Wait 'til next year

Remember 2020? How could you not? People pronounced it an annus horribilis and said that this year—2021—couldn’t be worse. But then … well, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, personally, I’m quite happy and consider myself to be a very lucky guy. But there’s a lot going on right now that makes the world seem even more fraught.

This brings us to 2022. I heard a quote recently like: Nobody make any sudden moves! we don’t want to scare this year off, too! (I can’t find the source to credit it; sorry if it was you!)

The irony is that a few years back—2015, 2016, which were really good years for my family—I was writing about some of the same stuff that I’m writing about now: how to make the new year better than the last.

In fact, I sat down twice back then (two years in a row) with a West Point graduate and former army officer named Mike Erwin, who is also the co-founder and head of Team RWB and one of the few experts on optimism and gratitude that I know personally.

The idea was to think of simple, practical things that people could do to ensure that next year would be better (no matter how good or bad last year was). Frankly, some of them seem even more applicable as we head into 2022.

So, for one of our last Friday comment threads of the year, I thought I’d share a few of them. More to the point, I’ll bet many of you have better ideas. So please do share them in the comments!

Here’s the advice (mostly) developed by an expert on optimism and resilience:

  1. Bridge the age gap. For younger people, find a way to spend time with older people. For the more silver-haired among us, I’m telling you: Find a few things the young kids are into—music, tech, sports—and check them out.

  2. Give blood on your birthday. The rules say most people are allowed to do this 6 times per year; if that’s too much, what better day to do it than on the celebration of your life?

  3. Shed your stuff. I didn’t plan this, but Jimmy Dunne’s advice from earlier this week is on point.

  4. Do a digital cleanse. Go all Marie Kondo on your tech and digital habits, asking yourself: Does this bring me joy? Does this motivate me to do If not, maybe ask yourself why you allow something draining to take up any real estate in your mind or heart.

  5. Play the “count the riles” game. This is a game where you win by (a) counting how many people are just trying to throw negative energy at you (rile you up, in other words), and (b) not reacting.

  6. Throttle the news. Honestly, this is 50 percent of the point of Understandably; the idea that you can be well-informed without chasing or listening to every little development in every little story that media (who make money from your attention) want to throw at you.

  7. Do some random, nice things. Leave a ridiculously huge tip somewhere. Randomly offer compliments (but don’t be creepy.) Write notes of gratitude. The world is a giant lever; you can put a small amount of effort into something like this and wind up having a big, positive effect on people.

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Thanks for reading. Photo: Pixabay. As noted, some of these ideas ran a few years back on Inc.com (link, link). Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.