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Worst year ever, best year ever?

2016-12-18 21:47:06

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I came across an article the other day in which the author was proclaiming 2016 to be the worst year ever. When I (for some reason) read beyond the headline, it turned out they weren't overly enamoured with 2015, 2014 or 2013 either.

At some point, surely, you've got to wonder whether the fault is with the events of the year or the way you're processing them. So I'd say that if you don't like the way something is going in the world, there are two ways to deal with it.

The first is to become well-informed about whatever it is that bothers you, develop strategies for trying to improve it, and dedicate significant energies to putting those plans into action. The second is to decide that you can't easily do much about it, pay less attention to it, and focus on events in your own life that you can influence instead.

Both approaches involve cultivating an internal locus of control: roughly speaking, the belief that you have control over events rather than things being "done to" you. An internal locus of control tends to make people happier, more motivated and success-orientated.

What you absolutely shouldn't do is spend huge amounts of time reading about whatever it is that bothers you and hanging out with people who are endlessly complaining about it – unless you're going to try to do something about it. Not only is this cultivating an external locus of control (the event is happening and you're powerless to stop it), but what you pay attention to assumes greater importance – so the more you read about it, the worse the anticipated ill-effects seem to become.

If 2016 has taught us anything, it's that (to borrow from Scott Adams) we're all living inside our own personal movie. Everybody's movie will be different and we'll never agree on whose is "right" – but as long as you make yourself the hero of your movie rather than being an extra standing around unhappily in the background, you'll feel far better when the credits roll.

Happy whatever if anything you celebrate at this time of year!

By Rob

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