There’s a joke going around that at one second after midnight on January 1st, hindsight will actually be 2020. By the time you read this, 2021 will have arrived. Thank goodness for that!
2020 started out as such a nice, round number, didn’t it? A brand new decade! A fresh beginning! What an enormous let down.
Sometimes we like to reminisce about the old year as we are entering the new one, but I really don’t want to do that this year, do you? I mean, it’s nice to find the positive and all that, and there have been lots of positives to be sure. But, I’m sorry. The negative stuff has just been so…well, negative. Too many people have lost far too much this past year. So I’m just writing it off.
2020, over and done. Yep.
I’m one of those boring people who still likes to make New Year’s resolutions. It’s funny, though, for the past few years it’s been the same one. My repetitious resolution has been to have an Attitude of Gratitude. I didn’t invent that phrase, but it rhymes quite nicely and as a songwriter, I like that.
Outside of the fine rhyme, I’ve realized over time that “attitude” is pretty much everything. If you have a bad attitude, you live a miserable life. On the other hand, if you look for even a tiny bit of good in something, that simple act makes your life a little better. It’s not easy to do and requires a lot of commitment, especially these days. And don’t get me wrong. I get the grumps too. But every New Year, I basically try to renew and recommit to a better attitude.
One of my favourite podcasts is Hidden Brain, which you can find on NPR Radio’s website. The podcast describes itself as exploring “the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior and questions that lie at the heart of our complex and changing world.” Human behavior has always fascinated me, and there is so much that I have yet to learn about the brain and all of its mysteries.
A recent podcast titled “Why Nobody Feels Rich” piqued my curiosity. In it, they discuss how we tend to compare ourselves to those who have more rather than to those who have less. I recognize that in my teaching. My students are often frustrated with people who can play guitar better than they can. They rarely focus on those who can’t play as well. Why is that?
In the podcast, they describe how comparing “upward” or towards someone who has more than you, on the one hand, can be painful. But on the other hand, it is a way of perhaps driving ourselves to do better, to find a way to achieve more. So although my students may find it frustrating not being able to play like James Taylor or Eddie Van Halen, having those two icons in front of them might inspire them to work harder at it.
The way I see it, while working harder can be a good thing, the reality is that very few of us will actually achieve that level of excellence. So what I work on with those students is in finding joy in the small accomplishments, and just being happy to play. If you enjoy it at least 51% of the time, it’s worth your effort.
And if I spend a little more time looking for the positive, I will usually find it. Sitting back and recognizing all of the good in my life helps to make me happier. My attitude of gratitude. As difficult as it will be in the next few months for all of us, I hope you, too, will find something to feel happy and grateful for.
Happy 2021, friends.