At the Gate of the Year

My 86 year-old father recited this poem he heard on the radio when he was 9 years old! It was the Christmas radio broadcast message from King George VI in the year of 1939. 

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

It struck me that the more things change, the more they stay the same! The elders as far back as anyone can remember warn of the recklessness of the youth and warn of a world that is going to hell in a hand basket! I read a newspaper column written by Nellie McClung, reprinted from 1941 and it sounds so much like our news of today! “And when I get the sun well up, I turn on the radio for the news. That’s the worst of it. I mean the inevitable return to manmade trouble”.....”The new year has come in with a feeling of intensity. We know we are all standing in slippery places, but we are standing-free and undefeated”.

I gathered great inspiration from the Queen’s message this December 25th …”I often draw strength from ordinary people doing extraordinary things, volunteers, carers, community organizers and good neighbors. Unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special and inspiring to others. In the words of Mother Teresa: Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.

On our own we cannot end war or wipe out injustice but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we can imagine. Inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received. Love begins small but always grows”.

So instead of a list of resolutions I will summarize the exercise given by Eileen Chadnick in the Globe and Mail recently. Take time to reflect on the following questions with a friend and or spouse and write yourself a letter that you read on Jan 1st 2018. The Year Behind: What went well? What surprised you? What are you noticing or even having hunches about? What needs to be left behind? Wrap up your year with a name that fits. The Year Ahead: Where do you need to go next? How will you evolve in the year ahead? What are your top goals? Who will you connect with? How will you navigate ambiguity and uncertainty? What’s your mantra for 2017?

A friend of ours wrote her Christmas letter from the view point of her Portuguese Water Dog Rosie. To quote Rosie “I’ve reflected upon my short-lived addiction to American politics and have resolved in future to resist any urge to subject myself to such cruel and unusual punishment. I am determined that if I am ever again tempted to dip my toe into the morass of political discourse, I will instead immediately turn my attention to the wonder and beauty of the world around me….. unfortunately, stories of cheerfulness are rarely deemed worthy of reporting so I have firmly resolved to curb my curiosity, accent the positive, eliminate the negative and focus only on the many things in my life that make me incredibly happy. Think of all the disposable income you’ll suddenly have when you no longer have need for your Prozac prescription!”

Follow the lead of our friends in Denmark where they regularly top the worlds happiness rankings. This Christmas more than any other year in Denmark, books on “hygge” are dominating book sales. Hygge is the Danish art of living cosily. The word is vaguely connected to the English word hug, to cherish yourself, to make yourself snug. It’s about a feeling of wellbeing, about enjoying life, whether through time spent with close friends or family, sitting by a fire with a hot chocolate, or putting on warm socks and dry clothes after a rainstorm.

Most books on lifestyle are about deprivation and living the clean life of food and exercise. Hygge is the complete opposite of that.  It is about embracing things, enjoying cake, and chocolate, spending time with friends and family. It’s about the little things and luxuries which make life great, about enjoying the happy moments which we perhaps miss. Perhaps what hygge is really about is trying to achieve everyday happiness.

So as you stand at the Gate of the Year ask the man for moments of daily happiness to share with your friends and family. Ask him to help you open your eyes to the treasures that lie at your feet and ask for his help to put aside the “digital boxes” that distract you from achieving “hygge” and achieving small things with great love all through the coming year!

By Dr. Ingrid Pincott, ND  (Jan 2 2017)