Last year at around this time I came across a lot of posts on Instagram about posters’ “word of the year.” I had never heard of (or paid attention to) the idea but it immediately resonated with me and my word for 2016 was obvious. My son was born just over a month earlier on Thanksgiving and I’d been reading a lot the prior year about gratitude and its importance for leading a joyful life. So gratitude became my word and I broke out my little pink journal with the phrase “See Countless Blessings” embossed on the cover intent on doing exactly that—being more cognizant of all the little and not-so-little good fortunes in my life.
Like a New Year’s Resolution, my nightly journaling lasted for less than a month. And as my husband reminded me a few days ago, I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to gratitude. But while I didn’t make the progress or keep to my commitment as I intended the first week of January, that word was nevertheless a good reminder of how I wanted to be and a gentle but effective nudge to pick up the journal periodically throughout the year (for a day or two at a time-ha!).
As 2016 came to a close, I started thinking about what my word for 2017 should be. Since I didn’t do so well with “gratitude,” I thought about using it again but that felt a little like cheating. Thinking about the ultimate goal, I considered making it “joy,” all the while thinking about all the massages I would get and fiction I would read to bring more joy to my life. And reflecting on my formula for joy, I contemplated “connection” and how I could try to create more connection in my life every day, even while living in Prague. (Who’s ready to learn Czech?)
Ultimately I decided on “growth.” A little vague, perhaps, but that’s part of why I like it. Working on gratitude can certainly be part of it (even though I forgot to bring the journal on vacation) but I don’t have to close out the year completely transformed and expressing gratitude for every little thing. (Not that that would be a bad thing.) I can take those Czech lessons, but don’t have to feel bad when my introversion prevents me from actually using it and trying to get to know the people around me. And while I do hope to get more massages and read more fiction this year, I won’t have to blame my less-than-entirely-hedonistic lifestyle on the fact that I have a toddler and thus never enough time. What matters is that I end the year a little more grateful, a little more connected, and hopefully a lot more joyful.