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2018 in Review: Was it really so bad?

abbey sits at the foot of a tree, surrounded by autumn leaves, looking to the side of the camera

"2018 was a crap year and I'm glad it's over." Over the past few days my Twitter timeline has been inundated with tweets along these lines. Everyone seems very keen for January 1st to roll around. And it's not hard to see why some people are glad to see the back of this year. Seann Walsh was a jackass. Logan Paul was a jackass. Donald Trump was a ... actually, I think I need more expletives to sum him up. Added to this we have the continuing trials and tribulations of Brexit, plastic pollution becoming an ever increasing problem, and wild fires sweeping California. Ugh. Depressing stuff. The aim of this post isn't to be a total negative Nancy, however. Today I am in fact inviting you to question whether, despite all the rubbish stuff that I've just listed, the overwhelming bad feeling toward 2018 is really justified. Shall we get started?

As humans, we tend to remember the bad stuff a lot more vividly. There's even a psychological reason behind this. A Stanford University professor in an article for the New York Times revealed that negative emotions are dealt with differently by our brains than positive experiences. Negative emotions require more thinking to process and are therefore more memorable than positive ones. The Stanford University research revealed that people tended to be more upset about losing $50 than they were be about gaining $50. The negative always seems to win.

abbey, a brunette blogger wearing a mustard knitted jumper, holds up two yellow autumn leaves on her head like ears
Mustard knit jumper: Thrifted (similar)

But by choosing to dismiss 2018 entirely as a shit year, we could be missing out on a chance to remember some really positive things. Perhaps 2018 wasn't the year where you ran a marathon, married your soulmate or made your first million as you promised yourself it would be all the way back in January, but I guarantee that you will have at least one memory stashed away from the past 12 months that is a positive. Maybe it's something small: it could be as simple as the fact that you bought your Mum an amazing birthday present and made her smile. It could be as major as the fact that you left a job that wasn't fulfilling and started a project that you're really enthusiastic about. It could be the fact that you learned a new skill, you were a good friend, you donated money to charity, you learned a lot about yourself. All of those things, great and small, are amazing and are truly worth remembering. The crappy stuff may stand out in your mind more, but before dismissing 2018 completely, why not make an active effort to remember the stuff that you did well? Our psychological makeup seems to be working against us but with a bit of extra effort, we can turn the way we feel about 2018 around.

a close up of abbey's torso, wearing a mustard knit jumper, showing a gold watch on her wrist
Watch: ADEXE (gifted)

Struggling to do just that? Well, it wasn't all doom and gloom in the news this year. If those positive memories of your own year aren't welling up inside you just yet, why not try these happy national news stories on for size! Prince Harry married the beautiful Meghan Markle. Women were permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia. Iceland made paying men more than women illegal. Scientific proof was found that dogs understand human distress and try to help their owners. The junior football team stuck in a Thai cave for 18 days were successfully rescued. India decriminalised homosexuality. Over the summer the World Cup (nearly) came home. More countries than ever before banned plastic. Cafes were set up in the US to employ people with autism. Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species. People are eating less beef than ever before, reducing the carbon footprint of the average American citizen's diet by around 9%. Literacy rates are at an all time high. The number of wild tigers in Nepal has almost doubled. Those are all wonderful reasons to look back on 2018 with a smile on your face, right?

Another important point is that if we only focus on the bad stuff from 2018, we are setting ourselves up for a fall in 2019. Because guess what? People are going to suck in 2019 too. Things won't always go our way. Bad things are probably going to happen. So, if we hold up 2019 in our minds as THE YEAR that things are going to go right for us, we will only be disappointed when some things do inevitably not work out. That isn't to say that we should be pessimistic about the New Year - it holds so much promise! But it won't be perfect. In my humble opinion, being realistic is the key to happiness. 2018 had some positives and some negatives, next year will be the same. And that's ok!

abbey stands turned towards the camera, hand on hip, she is smiling and wears a mustard knit jumper
Zip pocket trousers: Thrifted (similar)

So, what is my message with this post? To summarise, I'm inviting you to remember 2018 fondly, if you can, and take off those rose tinted glasses when it comes to 2019. No year is perfect but that doesn't mean that we can't still roll with the punches and live our best life. Now it's over to you: what is your most positive memory from the past year? What is something you'd really like to achieve in 2019? Leave me a comment down below and let me know.

Until next time,

A x