New year, new beginnings – or so they say. “What will the new year bring?” we often ask. “Happy New Year!” we often exclaim. Are we taking the time to really celebrate and enjoy the holidays? Are we taking the time to reflect and take the proper steps to enjoy the new year?
Each day presents us with at least one opportunity to change the rest of our lives. So why do we place so much emphasis on celebrating the beginning of a new year? The reason is, I think, that a year is a time that is long enough for us to really transform our lives, but short enough so that we can still reflect on it and learn from all the experiences we have experienced.
In a day, you can adjust the direction in which your life goes. In a week, you can reach a new destination. In a month, you can make new friends and start new relationships. But in a year, in one year, you can build a new life for yourself. It is amazing how much we can do and change while living through the four seasons. So, what will I transform in my life this coming year?
A year ago I found myself thinking about my future. I would, I said, make a change from my engineering life into a more business-related one. I would find a way to complete my bachelor’s in chemical engineering, but I would graduate and move on to something different. I wanted a career that allowed me to make a big impact in society and organizations but allowed me to frequently interact with others. I also wanted to meet many new people, expand my social group, while simultaneously keeping my friends close.
This year allowed me to do that and more. Although I did not test for my black belt in Taekwondo, which was one of my goals, I think that my year was all I could ask for. I took some time off taekwondo and focused on academics, work, and friends. I also used that time to plan for my summer in Japan, a summer that was life-changing all by itself, and to figure out my career plan after graduation. Taking that break allowed me to clear up my mind in a way I may not have been able to otherwise.
A lesson I learned from that process, however, was to always keep communication open with others. To not shy away from sharing my honest thoughts with those around me, friends, family, instructors, and peers. Not keeping things clear may give rise to misunderstandings, and may end up hurting relationships unnecessarily.
I also learned that although it is great to have a close group of friends, you should always listen to your heart and your mind. There are times in which only you will know what is best for you, and if you don’t give yourself a chance to explore what your mind is telling you to do, what you feel is right, you may be giving up on the life you always hoped for. I love my friends, I cheer them every minute I can, but sometimes I have to be strong and self-reliant, cause only I will be there for myself every second of the day.
Here is a summary of what the seasons this year brought me –
Late Winter – Spring 2009 Just like the fields flower in the Spring to symbolize the new beginnings, there were plenty of new beginnings for me. Although I had a successful Academic semester, my major accomplishment was to learn to keep myself happy and relaxed! I think that, although I have always been on the ‘happy and relaxed’ side, this year is marked by an optimism I had not felt before. Maybe it was partially triggered by reading “The Secret”, Eckhart Tolle, or one of those philosophical books I read, or maybe it was just the strengthening of my relationships with my family, friends, and that special someone. Whatever it was, I think that my approach to life and the way I looked at it made this past year possibly my happiest yet. Waking up every morning and allowing myself to feel good about me and my day, and whatever it may bring, allowed me to really absorb and enjoy the beauty of each day. Even when times were not the best, when friendships/relationships were rocky, when family was not at its best, or when academic pressures were at their peak, there was hope and happiness within me. I always new things would be great. Not okay, not good, not fine, but fantastic.
Summer 2009– When the heat of the summer came around, I ran to beautiful Japan and there had a summer I could never summarize. As I wrote on my summer report about my summer –
How do I begin this report? There are far too many things I would like to express and share from my experiences in Japan, far too many to summarize here. However, to keep things simple, I will just say that my summer in Japan was a life-changing experience, and the memories from this trip I will forever treasure.
I think that is the best description of my summer. I wrote plenty about Japan – if you ever wonder what I did or loved so much in Japan.
Looking back at my summer, all I can remember is happiness and joy. I allowed myself to smile and laugh for no reason, to truly be present at the moment, and to stop thinking that “tomorrow” or “someday” I would be able to have the life I wanted and truly enjoy happiness. I replaced that thinking with knowing that there is no better day than today, no better moment than the present, to feel the warmth and happiness in our hearts that I had always been ‘seeking’. Maybe it was not Japan in particular that made my summer special, maybe the special part of it was me allowing myself to truly enjoy life.
I am now thinking about my summer in Japan, and it was a beauty. Those long days were beautiful and allowed me to truly experience what it was to be completely free –
Fall 2009 – Early Winter 2009 The fall season was one of many changes. The spring flowers and green summer leaves were now transitioning into more serious and mellow colors, and so was my life. But far from being a sad transitioning phase, it was yet another season of happiness and love. Although I missed my life in Japan, and the freedom I felt there, after some stumbles and lessons I learned that I could be free and truly happy anywhere. I did not need to be at a particular place to allow myself to be happy, optimistic, and free. I enjoyed the company of my friends, and I was able to strengthen my special relationship, which had bloomed during the Spring. I was also able to reconnect with friends and find a job, the job I had been asking for – a job that would allow me to transition from engineering to a more business-y job. This would allow me to solve problems while interacting with others and to make a big impact in organizations.
The late fall and early winter greeted me with snow in mid-October and then some brutal cold. This was before my travels to warm (almost hot) Puerto Rico. Just as I moved physically in the world, allowing me to escape the cold weather and embrace warmth, I learned this year that when everything seems cold around me, in my surrounding emotional world, I can transform my thoughts and my reality to keep my heart warm. I can always choose to irradiate happiness and love, and not to let the coldness and bitterness in the air infect me. There is always a way if I believe, and it is that way that I will always keep my life open to.
Concluding Remarks –
I am happy and have learned to be happier. This year has allowed me to transform my life mentally and emotionally and helped me become stronger and better. I will always strive for better, but will never stop enjoying the present, this very moment I am living. There will never be a better moment to be truly happy than NOW.
Enjoy the Holidays & Happy New Year ~
To a great 2009 and an even better 2010 ~
Life gets better, moment by moment.