What I Learned in 2015

Mike Doria Looking Up Toward Sky

The inspiration for this post came as I accidentally snapped this photo of myself.  I was on one of my routine exercise walks around the outside of my office and fooling around on Snapchat.   In 2015 I learned that I can no longer eat what I want without any weight gain consequences.  Guess I’m not 25 anymore.  Who knew?  Blah!

It’d been a while since I had what I considered to be a “good year.”  In the past I’d been blessed with great jobs or unforeseen opportunity, etc.  And then it all just became stagnant.  Life became mundane.  There weren’t many surprises. It was boring.  Enter 2015.  A twist.  Awareness.

While most people can boast or reflect on things that have happened in the past year, such as weddings, babies, promotions, etc.; I can only share what I’ve learned.  So here is my short list.  And in no particular order of importance.

What I learned in 2015

  1. Smiling is Important: Put one on your face and see what happens!  I noticed people approaching me more.  They genuinely wanted to be in my company.  People sought my opinion or input in a conversation.  Sure, I have my grumpy days.  But they certainly were a lot fewer and far between in 2015.  Smiling not only changes your face, it changes your outlook.
  2. I Don’t Have All the Answers: And I’m ok with not having all the answers…now.  I used to be a know-it-all.  I used to have my own small view of the world.  And I used to think I had done enough living to insert my opinion with the hope of making it stick.  In 2015, I asked for a lot more advice.  I asked for a lot more help.  And when I humbled myself enough to do so, doors opened.  People embraced it.
  3. Church is Everything: And I found one that cared more about my inside than my outside.  The Crossing‘s motto is “come as you are.”  So I did.  And each week since, I’ve learned how to be a bit kinder, more understanding, more useful and more caring about the world at large.  Most of all, I learned how to communicate with God.  Instead of fantasizing about what he might be like, he showed me what he IS like. #amen
  4. Not My Monkeys, Not My Circus:  Translation: it’s none of my business.  And I can thank my Aunt El for sharing this clever little phrase with me over Christmas.  It’s not that I was a busybody…per say.  But I now try to stay out of other peoples’ business or out of situations in which I can’t add anything other than noise or chaos.  It’s a waste of time.  I’m less productive. I stay in my own arena.  And, trust me — life is so much easier when I mind my own beeswax.  It’s not always easy to do, but I’m working on it.
  5. Lowering Expectations:  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone would just do what it is you think they should do?  But that don’t.  And it’s aggravating.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t still expect things from people — especially when those “things” are somewhat of a societal norm.  But I just stopped expecting people to behave certain ways.  It caused me less grief and it allowed me to incorporate a little more tolerance in my life.  #StillWorkingOnThatOne
  6. Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength:  Not a sign of weakness.  I was born independent.  Asking for help was not always easy.  If I wanted something done, I’d do it myself.  2015 forced me to seek help from others when my way no longer worked.  The end result — I gained priceless bits of wisdom.  Situations and circumstances became easier to handle when I let someone else help me gain perspective.
  7. Love & Encouragement: Ever feel like you don’t get enough love, attention, encouragement or support?  Best way to combat that is give it to someone else.  Think about it — you know exactly how it feels to not have those in your life.  So why not use that pain to give a little attention and love to someone else who needs it?  It breaks a cycle. It feels good.
  8. Helping Others Helps Myself: Yes, it’s true.  It may be a pain in the ass sometimes to go out of your way to help someone else.  But you know what?  Every time I did, I felt better.  I felt useful.  I felt needed and I felt a bit more complete.  Try it.  Don’t get crazy with it — but try it from time to time.
  9. I’m Not Perfect:  Nor will I ever be.  2015 was all about making progress and becoming aware of my actions.  It was about shifting my attitude.  It was about knowing that I’m human and will make mistakes.  And once I digested that, I didn’t have to be so hard on myself.  I’m going to fumble.  And it might even require an apology.  It’s cool.
  10. I Hate Being Alone:  I used to bury myself in work or shut myself away from the world.  I used to require a ton of alone time to re-energize.  And it wasn’t doing me any good.  In 2015, I started making more time for friends.  I’ve had more dinners at restaurants and homes than I can count. Turns out I hated being alone.  My friends and family are my life support.
  11. My Writing Sucks:  Yup, the one passion I have in life isn’t all that great.  I’ve written books, albums, etc.  I’m ok with being a mediocre writer.  It keeps me willing to become better.  And it keeps me inspired to do more.  I don’t just want to construct sentences anymore.  I want to effect change and trigger emotion.  We’ll see what happens in 2016.
  12. I Love NPR: The stories and the story telling are fascinating.  Just fascinating.  Maybe I can join the team one day.

What I’m still learning — even on the second to last day of 2015 is patience.  I’ll probably figure out how to get it at the 11th hour of my life.  I’m also learning that I’ll never stop learning.  There’s no reason to.  I would have nothing to look forward to.

I turn 40-years-old in February of 2016.  And while I’m suffering (or at least think I’m suffering) somewhat of a mid-life crisis, it’s ok.  I recently had dinner with a group of friends.  Among them was a 78-year-old man who didn’t look a day over 50.  I asked him how to overcome this.  He told me that once I accept that we all get older and realize it’s a part of life, I’ll be fine.  Easier said than done, but I’ll try.  I also asked him about life in general and some overall advice.  He said I should do whatever it is I’m passionate about and the money will come.  I guess I’ll keep writing.  So far it’s paying the bills.   Happy New Year!