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Reflections-By Dr Rajan Philips

( This motivational article was published in Oman Observer , one of the leading Newspapers in Oman. The article is reproduced with the permission of the author )

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End of the Year Musings


AS we get ready to bid goodbye to 2009, we tend to look back at the days gone by and then look forward hopefully to the dawn of a new and blessed year. It is a time some of us experience a sense of deflation or even depression — the year-end blues. It results from a reflection on our failures and unfulfilled plans and lofty resolutions. These may have included a plan to go on a diet and exercise combo to shed kilos, manage our finances more resourcefully, land a more satisfying job or shore up our personal relationships.

We started off the year with great hope and fervour, but as days rolled by, things didn’t shape the way we hoped for. We are thus left with a burnt out feeling, having overworked but making no real headway in life. On a global front too things look rather dismal — disappointing climate change conference, unrelenting rise in violence and unrest and the economic crisis showing no let up. The graphic media reports and threadbare analyses add to our anxieties. The good things that happen do not make media headlines. It is up to us to avoid getting immobilised or crushed by failure and setbacks.

We can benefit from failures too if we view them in the right perspective. Thomas Alva Edison had to try again and again before tasting success in making one his several inventions. He remarked “I have not failed. I’ve just found 1,000 ways that won’t work.’ That is the spirit we need to move forward. The insight into what works and what doesn’t is itself a great positive lesson. Failure might be because of setting unrealistic goals or resorting to escapist methods like drinking or taking drugs.

Similarly, putting all the eggs in one basket is not only an unsound investment option, but also a flawed approach to everyday life, particularly in personal relationships. We should not let one person or interest dictate our happiness or well being. Likewise, our fear of change and a closed mind to issues create tensions that stunt our growth.

Many of our failings can be traced to our poor time management skills. Today, there is a general perception that life makes more and more demands on our limited time. We seem to be always working frantically and under pressure to meet deadlines. This is obviously bad for our health and diminishes the quality of our work. Why does this happen? Calm introspection would reveal that unproductive and avoidable work takes away a good chunk of our valuable time.

To prevent a sense of frustration seeping into us on this count, we need to budget our time efficiently (much more than we budget our money), by setting clear priorities. A simple but well thought out list of things- to- do is a good idea. A periodic check on how we carry out the tasks will help us meet deadlines with less anxiety.

Most of us realise that negative thoughts are counter productive and harmful. Yet, it is not easy to cut them out. We must learn to bring them under control through a conscious positive thrust. I recall here reading about a simple strategy to avoid succumbing to the negative stream of thoughts. Just walk down the memory lane of the year drawing to a close, and think of all the good things — big and small — that you did or which happened to you and note them down on paper.

Keep out assiduously all unpleasant items. It could be a special holiday trip that came through after years of wait, a dining out experience with a loved one, your child winning a coveted prize or an adventurous trek to a local mountain. I tried this out for 5 to 10 minutes and I can say it works. What is more, good memories trigger further pleasant reminiscences.

You are filled with joy and a sense of gratitude towards those who made these possible. What more do you need to provide you with a renewed zest for life and the spirit to meet the challenges of the New Year? As the year 2009 fades out, the message is clear and simple. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and not dwell long on our failings. Let us move forward with the perseverance and optimism expressed in the concluding lines of H W Longfellow’s famous poem ‘A Psalm of Life’

‘Let us then be up and doing, With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labour and to wait.’

A few Quotes:
 For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. — T S Eliot
 Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. — Hal Borland
 Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. — Alfred Tennyson
 Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits. — Anon.

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