Man, often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end up becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.
It is through this kind of thinking that I have fundamentally become an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested last year, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death and I am not ready to concede defeat nor death.
The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds and times and that is what I do every waking moment. We are the first generation to live in the social media era. The pessimist mind however fears this is true. I have always held on to the belief that things will always get better. That tomorrow will be better than yesterday. That when they say there is a light at the end of the tunnel, they actually know what they are talking about. Always keeping the hope alive even when times are bleak.
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic as might be presumed. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places, and there are so many, where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
So, with wishful optimism, once again we start another year hoping it will be better than the last. Every year we go through the same cycle. Starting the year on a high note, full hope and how things will work our way. The year progresses and soon we start falling into the pitfalls of life but such is our life. But do we give up or beat ourselves up simply because one thing in our grand vision did not go as planned?
When things start going sideways, it is only natural for us to start being cynical. To start questioning things, questioning the intentions of those around us and even God. You start wondering why He would let you sink into depths of abyss and yet on New Year’s Eve, you went to him, planted a seed, prayed, worshiped Him and on top of that, your pastor told you that this would be YOUR YEAR. You wonder if anything else you prayed for will come to fruition.
When encountered with such thoughts, I seek refuge in the remembrance that I cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise in the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So, for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.”
Your new year resolutions might not go exactly as planned. In fact, they will not go exactly as planned. Somewhere along the way, you will hit a bump. You will encounter an unexpected turn. You will meet another vehicle on the wrong side of the road. You will make mistakes. When that happens, I want you to remember this; we’re humans, not machines. We have bad days. We have mental difficulties. We are inspired, yet we fail. We are not linear. We have hearts that break and souls we don’t know what to do with. We kill and destroy but we build and make possible too. We’ve been to the moon and invented computers. We outsource most things but we still have to live with ourselves. We’re mostly pessimists who believe it’s too late so what the hell? We’re the comeback kids in love with second chances. And every New Year is another chance. Every new day is another chance. When you fall or skip that gym day, wake up the next day like its new year and start all over again.
This year, don’t forget to thank your past years because they enabled you to reach today. Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future. Let us believe in a long year that has been given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of its necessary, serious, and great things.
We spend January 1st and most of that week walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential. This new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.
Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our lives direction. Make New Year’s goals. Don’t be afraid that last year you accomplished one or none of them. Don’t be afraid that you failed to keep your word to yourself by March last year. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This will help you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.
Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down – as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go. What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed? What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life? What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?
As the old year retires and a new one is born, we commit into the hands of our Creator the happenings of the past year and ask for direction and guidance in the new one. May He grant us His grace, His tranquility and His wisdom! Many things are and will continue to be thrown our way in this game of life. It’s how we deal with them that shows our true character. I want all of you to feel the hope, love and passion I feel for the upcoming year and the rest of my life. I want ALL of you to not only go for your dreams, but have a damn ass good time doing it!
I also hope that in the year we just started, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy. Life is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep moving forward, and savoring the journey. Pursue what catches your heart, not what catches your eyes. Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you can imagine. You are unique. You have different talents and abilities. You don’t have to always follow in the footsteps of others. And most important, you should always remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing and have a responsibility to develop the talents you have been given.
Take responsibility for your own happiness, never put it in other people’s hands. Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind. Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people. A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a tremendous impact on someone else’s life. Even if you cannot change or touch the lives of all the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around. Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t respect, appreciate, and value you. Spend your life with people who make you smile, laugh, and feel loved.
Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with our communication is that we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.
Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down. Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinions of others. When you start living the life of your dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubts, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance and self-belief there is no limit to what you can achieve. Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.
Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles. Also remember to be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more? Follow your heart, listen to your inner voice, stop caring about what others think. Make improvements, not excuses. Seek respect, not attention.
Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality, not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.
Consider my voice, if you can hear one in your head while you are reading this, as the great miraculous bell of translucent ice suspended in mid-air. It rings to announce endings and new beginnings. It rings because there is fresh promise and wonder in the skies. Its clear tones resound in the placid silence of the winter night (it is winter in some places), and echoes long into the silver-blue serenity of a beautiful cloudless night. The bell can only be seen and heard at the turning of the year, when the days wind down into nothing, and get ready to march out again. When you hear the bell, you feel a tug at your heart. It is your immortal inspiration. There is always an opportunity to start again and again, if the old ways did not work last year, look for better ways of doing things this new year and start again afresh.
©C. J. NJOROGE