Life lessons from 2016 : A study in gratitude

Life lessons from 2016 : A study in gratitude

Have you read Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret?’ I haven’t. But, according to people who have read it, the basic premise is this: What you feel is what you attract.

In other words, a positive affirmation, repeated with energy and commitment will see fruition because the Universe is listening to you. The same goes for the negative energy we appear to absorb from news, people and things around us.

Chances are they all begin with you.

It’s the end of November and perhaps a bit early to be writing end-of-the-year gratitude posts, but my heart is full at the moment so here goes. These are the lessons that 2016 has helped reinforce in my life. I am immensely thankful to every single person, event and circumstance that brought them into my world.

[bctt tweet=”Here are 10 life lessons from 2016 that fill me with #gratitude.” username=”shyvish”]

Lesson 1: Learn to let go

Let go

I’d like to say that I’ve never really been worried about numbers in a big way. But I’d be lying. It took me a long while to completely come to terms with the number of page views on my blog. Heck, this even extended to the number of shares on a blog post. Occasionally, it mattered how many friends of mine saw the posts, read them, commented on them or shared them.

But a chance deletion of my blog a day after it went self-hosted, completely threw me off the numbers wagon and made me take stock of what really mattered. That’s when it came to me: the numbers will plunge and surge almost every day or week, but the one thing that doesn’t have to change is you.

If we learn to let go of the attachment we have to our blog or our relationships and do what we do unconditionally, the returns are both beautiful and unexpected.

Lesson 2: Growth will happen

Someone once said that the fruits of labour are the sweetest when you’ve worked the hardest. After 3+ years of sustained blogging, it was a marvelous feeling to be invited to speak at an event for mom bloggers and entrepreneurs. I would never have imagined that possible. There are days even now where I have to pinch myself to ensure that it actually did come to pass.

Life as a parenting blogger_Panel discussion_Mums and Stories

I finally moved my blog from Blogger to my own space after 9 years and it was overwhelmingly gratifying to see the love that poured in from all corners. What this taught me was that, even without my knowing it, there were people cheering me on, hoping for me to succeed. Kind notes and messages from people who regularly read my blog, even the silent ones, continue to be my greatest blessing.

Lesson 3: Make time for the family

This year has been a challenging one for us, the family unit, since my husband’s work kept him away from us during the week. Weekends were precious and much anticipated. As a result, we wound up savouring the quality moments we spent together as a family.

V with the baby Gy

gy-shy-love

I must confess I’ve not been a great friend though, since I very often opted out of events, meet ups and even birthday get-togethers as a result. I’ve even gone for ages without responding to mails, messages or missed calls. But, making time for the family, especially my daughter, was paramount.

During the week, I was playing two roles: the doting mom and the stern mom. Constantly trying to do both was exhausting and led to many tears and lots of arguments. She IS growing up, after all, so all I can hope for is compassion from friends and family despite the many ways I have ignored them. (By the way, that’s baby Gy in the photos, just in case you were wondering).

Lesson 4: Live life on your terms

It can be hard to keep up with the Jones or the Sharmas of the world. Scratch that, it can be exhausting. As bloggers, a lot of us tend to do this to ourselves. We read blogs which have followers in the thousands and wonder why we don’t have that kind of clout. As parents, we read a lot of pieces on how this mom brought her kids up solely on organic food and never skipped a beat. Or how that mom’s kid scored a perfect 10 on every school assessment while our own tend to lag behind.

I have two words for you: Stop it!

Blogging guilt and parenting guilt are two things I see many moms facing. Social media and perfect Instagram posts only make it worse for most of us. Take a break every once in a while and breathe. You are the best you can be. Never stop believing that.

Lesson 5: Never stop learning

I recently did a presentation at work on how to leverage social media in the digital content space and it was so gratifying to hear from the team members and colleagues. They all appreciated it and how I made it seem so simple.

Social media strategy

As I told them, I honestly learnt everything thanks to two resources: Google and my gang of ever-supportive blogging friends. If it weren’t for someone like Vidya, I’d never have set foot in the sponsored post space. Sid helped me migrate my blog to self-hosted the first time and patiently taught me tech tips and tricks. Rachna introduced me to very good campaigns and continues to support my blogging in every way possible. Vishal helped me move this blog from Blogger to custom domain.

I have so many other people to thank but that will have to make for a separate post.

Lesson 6: Make health a priority

I was never big on health and I am ashamed to admit it. A mild scare around June this year changed that. As a result, I began to consciously watch the amount I eat, how much I exercise and more importantly, how well I managed my emotional health too. All of it is tied in together to help us live wholesome, meaningful lives. Walking became an important part of my routine as did healthy eating. That and the way I perceived my body has made 2016 a year to remember.

Lesson 7: Lessons can come from anywhere

I’ve always maintained this but 2016 has proved this true yet again. Children teach us the biggest of life lessons but so do events like demonetisation and the results of an election far away from your country. It also taught me things I wish I didn’t know about people on my virtual friend list.

But, as the saying goes, people come into your life for a reason or a season. Find out which and don’t take it to heart if you find that it’s time to move on from broken relationships. These incidents made me cherish the ones I hold close to my heart, online and offline. I don’t bear any ill-will or angst towards those who are no longer my friends. I understand that this is an individual journey for each of us and hope you can each find peace on your own.

Lesson 8: Do what you love

At the event where I spoke, people asked me how I made time to blog. For that I only had one answer, ‘Because I love doing it.’ I primarily enjoy writing. Sometimes, I do a lot of it- through poetry, status updates, free writing in my diary. It is the juice that keeps me going. Call it my energy drink if you will.

If you find a passion for something, give it your all. Do it because it drives you from deep within. That’s how I feel about blogging. Interestingly, I haven’t begun to feel that for my memoir yet. I am still plagued by a sense of discomfort about sharing my story for the world to read. Some of it is painful, some of it is very difficult to write. So I’ve stopped forcing myself.

The good news is, my first draft is almost ready. 2016 may actually see me finishing the first draft before December ends. So that’s something to welcome 2017 with, for sure.

Lesson 9: Make time for movies and books

A movie, a book, a conversation between friends, an observation of an interaction- the key is to stay open to everything and listen with your heart. I love watching films, especially the ones that blend entertainment and a lesson so effortlessly into their representation. Dr.Strange was one such film and so were the movies Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory.

When breath becomes air

I’ve not read as many books as I’d have liked to this year, but the ones I have managed are all wonderful and splendid. Be it ‘When Breath becomes Air’ or “Quiet’ or ‘The Palace of Illusions’, each book took me closer to the real reason I exist: To carve my path on the spiritual journey of finding myself.

*I do watch Hindi movies but very few on-screen. I’ve given up wondering why exactly. Maybe it’s the execution or the fact that I can watch it at leisure on TV or Google Play later in the year.

Lesson 10: Bless everything

In February this year, I celebrated 15 years of the day I first laid eyes on my husband. It’s a day we fondly look back at every year because we know what we’ve been through ever since,to be where we are today. We’ve survived my depression and bipolar disorder. We’ve struggled with being told I’d probably never have a child. We dealt with the pain of a chemical pregnancy together. For the last year and 9 months, we’ve lived apart every week thanks to work.

15_years_Anniversary

But, as my dad always says, ‘Bless everything.’ Every stumbling block has taught me that it’s not the end of the road. It’s just a hurdle that we have to learn to overcome. We’ve grown together as a couple and for that I am eternally grateful. Together, we look forward to growing old, constantly pulling the other’s leg and watching our child become whoever she chooses to be.

I couldn’t have asked for a better person to spend my life with.

***

I know 2016 has also been a year of distressing news,war, strife, terrible election outcomes, the stress of demonetisation,  people dying and the list can seem endless if I were to continue.

But, if we were to pause and reflect on the good moments in our lives, I think you’d find that there are always more things to be grateful for than ever. What matters is where you train the magnifying glass.

***

Linking this up with Vidya Sury’s Gratitude Circle Link Up

gratitude-circle-vidya-sury-final

Featured image courtesy: Rawpixel via Shutterstock

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Comments

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26 thoughts on “Life lessons from 2016 : A study in gratitude

  1. I’ve been contemplating doing something like this to round up this year. It’s been a very strange year and I think while I blame the universe for a lot of things, I let go of focus on some and needlessly focussed on some others.

    Thank you for the mention. And having a close group of supportive friends and a team like BAR is pretty awesome right?

    Always happy to help you, Shailaja. Just say the word.

  2. I completely agree with the belief of the universe listening to everything we have to say.
    I absolutely loved this post because it features two things very close to my heart, life-lessons from mundane life and of course being grateful for each one of them.
    You sure have had an eventful year and am wishing the year ending will be the cherry on the cake.
    Era recently posted ObservationsMy Profile

  3. A thoughtful compilation, Shailaja. 2016 has taught me people are not what they seem to be. Online, I mean. I kind of knew that but anyways. 2016 has shown me that it’s not going to be easy out there but to fight that I need to be at peace within. So, started working on that. It’s been a good year with many lessons and some heartaches but then that’s what life is, I guess

  4. I love these gratitude posts. They make a world of difference. I am glad that thanks to Vidya, l started doing the monthly posts to reflect upon the positive that transpired every month. It has genuinely made a difference. I will do an year end post as well. Later. ☺️

    Happy to read your lessons. Having known you closely both online and offline, none of them are surprising but heartwarming. I hope you continue to thrive, introspect, change, move on and stay warm and supportive.

    Online friendships are fragile but l believe l have something special with you. Being words and work we connect on a very human level. Twice this year l reached out to you when l was troubled and wanted your level headed perspective. You can’t through with flying colours. Hope we continue to share this lovely bond. Touchwood.

    Here’s to a rocking 2017. Let’s get that book out, woman! ♥️
    Rachna Parmar recently posted Grateful This NovemberMy Profile

  5. Wish I could point out one lesson which was my favorite Shailaja. Each of them is worth their weight in gold. Life can make us drift and feel morose if we don’t look out for the seemingly small, but secretly powerful, lessons.

    And you couldn’t have articulated it better than saying lessons can come from anywhere.

    Superb post, as always!

  6. Forget Secret, you should check out The Magic, will send you the PDF version.. It has 28 chapters and each has a little activity at the end, all about gratitude and putting out positive affirmations into the universe.. I totally believe it and it has be brought some amazing changes in my life…

    Hugs for a great year ahead.. <3

  7. What a lovely heart warming post! For the last two years, I have been summing up my year like this and it is so awesome to look back at the times gone by and draw inspiration from it. Gratitude is now part of my life.
    Shailaja – you are a fabulous person. I have come to know you as a warm and loving woman. Wishing you the best ever 2017.
    Parul Thakur recently posted As I write my life’s storiesMy Profile

  8. A very good list of lessons. Learning to let go is a difficult one to do but once done is refreshing. The biggest lesson in life that I’ve learned is that life is just as it should be. And from that I have derived my mantra Go with the flow, be Zen and let it go. Wishing you the very best for 2017.
    Suzy recently posted 5 Hobbies #FridayReflectionsMy Profile

  9. Wonderful post to round up the year. It’s been a bumpy year for many of us actually, hasn’t it? All the more important we hold on to the good times and look to erase the bad times from our memories as soon as possible.

    P.S. How have you not read ‘The Secret’ yet? 🙂
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted Conjure Your PatronusMy Profile

  10. You know I love you, Shailaja! 2016 has been a tough year at home ,too, but we’ve become pros at looking at the pros! I felt so happy reading each point, because I feel my learning has been similar. Difficult times help us grow, and how! I am so happy for you. I wish you a great time ahead. i admire your level-headedness–it takes courage to see things for what they are and prioritize. <3 Giggling over the Jones and Sharmas. Hugs! Thanks for the mention!

    I will do my roundup in Dec!
    Vidya Sury recently posted Dear Mom, Did You Read The Label? #readthelabelMy Profile

  11. A very inspiring read Shailaja. Congrats on braving it out together, you and your better half. I am looking forward to your memoir, I had long back read a tweet in which you had mentioned something akin to that. I am all ears. I want to read and share it with two of my friends who are struggling with depression.

  12. I am going to take with me the two words your father told you, ‘Bless Everything”. That’s what we all need to do, to be able to move forward and not look back at things that did not work out/ things that went wrong.
    Thank you for this wonderful post, Shy! Hugs to you and lots of love and blessings for a spectacular new year! <3

  13. Loved reading all the points Shailaja. I can learn a lot from you and your blog. You are an inspiration for me who is not very old in the blogging arena. And agree that bring thankful makes things much easier for us as we look at all the positives in our life. Keep writing and keep inspiring 🙂

  14. It was lovely reading this Shailaja, I especially liked how you found life lessons in all aspects of your life – from parenting to blogging to relationships to work :). Lots of hugs and much love to you, keep going strong <3.

  15. A lovely round up Shailaja. As much as your posts positive and inspiring, this list is so full of it Just looking at the good things… Glad it has been a meaningful year for you.

    Looking forward to more from your blog in the years to come.

  16. Bookmarking this post for every year end! 😀

    I so loved your post on blogging guilt and trust me it did help me overcome it. I have always lived life on my terms and it is the best and only way to live. Else, it is a waste.

    P.S: Lil Gy looks so adorable in those pictures <3
    Soumya recently posted Action Replay: November 2016My Profile

  17. I love reading gratitude posts, even though I have never done them myself.

    2016 has been a roller-coaster of a year. It has been stressful, yes, but life has been moving in a positive direction, so I can’t really complain.

    2 great years back to back. Hope this streak continues for 2017. For me. And I wish the same for you. Always. 🙂
    Shantala recently posted November Wrap Up – Books and MoviesMy Profile

  18. Your recollections are worthwhile. There is a lot one can leanr from them. I have had a mixed 2016 and I am definitely hoping for a better, more beautiful 2017. Wishing you a merry christmas and a fabulous 2017 🙂

  19. Ahhh! These blogging and parenting guilt …I always try not to fall in their trap. You are a tough nut Shailja. I too ended the year with some learning and a motto for the time to come. Its great to read those lessons learned. Wishing you a very happy new year.

  20. I believe that thing about you attract who you think about .It’s the best kept secret and it’s good that you know it now.Numbers are not everything for a blog.But they do help us grow in some ways.Not all but some.Will look forward to your memoir.

  21. Awesome lessons!!! Way to go Shailaja for accomplishing so much through blogging. I loved the first lesson Learn to let go. i am that clingy person and its very hard for me to let go of things which i think should happen in a particular way and i am so happy reading this.I think i should start practising this seriously.
    Richa Choudhary recently posted Mom who believed in her body and had a natural delivery of her baby at a Birthing centre : Birth StoryMy Profile

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