Perspectives: The best lessons gleaned from 2017

Image courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

OPINION — Since another year has blazed past, I thought it would be fun to revisit a few of the lessons gleaned from 2017 to see if any of them were worth passing along.

If, for some reason, you find that these observations provide no added value to your existence, feel free to have a positive and productive new year anyway. I’ll cheerfully refund whatever you paid for them.

First and foremost, the best thing that happened to me in 2017 was not something I was hoping would happen. Four days into the new year, I was let go from a long-time radio position, and the wheels of change began to turn.

I’m not going to pretend that such things are pleasant or exhilarating in the same way that a 1,000-foot zip line ride might be. However, as I look back on the various opportunities and friendships that have developed as a result of that job loss, I’m intensely grateful it happened.

Being forced to step out of my comfort zone has always proven to be a opportunity for growth, and 2017 was no exception. This was one of those rare times when my entire family was able to participate in the growth cycle alongside me.

It wasn’t easy for any of them, but the end result has proven highly satisfactory.

We learned what it was like to be separated from one another as I began work in a new city and my family remained at home to finish out the school year. Simple things which had been easy to take for granted suddenly took on deeper significance.

Being able to pray together, to eat our meals together and to hug one another before saying goodbye each weekend became important milestones of our time together. Even though technology made it easy to stay in touch during the work week, we grew closer to one another as a result of our separation.

All of us were required to bid farewell to friends and familiar places we had long loved and to embrace new surroundings, new friends and new challenges. Any worries about how my wife and kids would handle the transition were quickly put to rest.

Becky landed a marvelous math teaching position at a nearby junior high school, and my kids took on new adventures in the form of school, work and learning new skills that weren’t available to them before. My heart soared when I heard each of my kids express surprise at how quickly our new community had come to feel like home.

That’s when I knew they’d be just fine.

Moving to a new home required that we purge a large portion of the stuff we had accumulated over a 12-year period in one place. We donated and gave away whatever we could and discarded the rest.

It was astonishing to find boxes from our last move 12 years earlier that we had never bothered to open. Something very healthy begins to happen when we stop clinging to our stuff and actively make room for more important things in our lives.

We haven’t quite managed to become minimalists just yet, but we find ourselves feeling deeper appreciation for those things we do have and less need to fill the spaces in our lives with material things.

2017 was a year when a number of our close friends and family members went through serious hardships and trials. As hard as it is to see those we love having to suffer or bear difficult burdens, it has sharpened our instincts to reach out to them and to serve them in whatever ways we can.

This, in turn, has opened our eyes to the astounding number of magnificent people who stand ready to shoulder one another’s burdens in the truest possible sense of charity. These folks don’t often make headlines, but they do make a lasting difference in the lives of those around them.

Their examples lift and inspire anyone with eyes to see to step up and do likewise.

Perhaps the biggest lesson we’ve learned from 2017 is that nothing inspires us to reach and grow like catching a glimpse of some personal, inspired purpose.

This recognition means we must each be willing to choose to live our own highest purposes, without seeking permission. That means saying no to the collectivized purposes others would force on us.

It’s definitely not the path of least resistance, but it seems to be the one that will bring the greatest growth and ultimate happiness.

Not everyone will resonate with these observations. Each of us has a different path to follow and different lessons for bringing out our greatest potential.

If you’re looking for advice that’s a bit more universal in nature, you can always try this: Never buy a TV from an out-of-breath guy on the street.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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