Six Reasons to be Thankful for an (Admittedly Rough) 2016

By Mitzi Hernández Cruz, HIPGive contributor

2016 promises to say goodbye in the same way that it treated us during its reign. It’s a year that leaves us worried about wars, a new U.S. president, and the death of incredible musicians, artists, and politicians that mark the end of an era.

But instead of feeling fatalistic, depressed, or desperate in the face of a chaotic international panorama and uncertain economy, we should take the time to reflect and give thanks for one of the most complicated years in recent memory.

Though reasons to be grateful may seem hard to find, here are six ways we can thank 2016:

1. Adversity makes us strong.

If you lived through radical changes in your work, personal, financial, or love life this year, remember that every time we face a new situation that seems difficult, it’s because we’re gaining experience. We should be grateful for these situations and confront them head-on, because these moments teach us lessons that in the future we’ll take for granted. Learning to fall, pick ourselves back up, and continue on helps us find our limits and strengths and become more resilient.

2. We are safe from harm.

One of the best ways to get rid of the bad is to simply notice it. If you’re caught in a vicious cycle of negativity or stuck in your comfort zone, it’s very difficult to leave the negative behind. So if you noticed situations that weren’t making you happy and decided to change them, that’s the best thing you can do for your future.

If we aren’t in agreement with recent political changes, we should analyze our participation and what we could have done better as a citizen. This reflection will help us take concrete actions going forward.

3. Do what you want, and don’t wait.

This year many great artists died, and many shared their regrets for not having gone to one of their concerts sooner on social media. On a larger scale, there are other things that will never again exist—destroyed cities like Aleppo and a transformed Cuba that will never be the same.

If you didn’t get to visit a place that was closed for ecological reasons, see a show, or if there’s something else you weren’t able to do for some reason, this is the moment to realize that we don’t have to postpone our desires. We should take advantage of our opportunities, because 2016 has shown us that some things will never be the same.

Take a moment to hug those around you, reflect on what you love, and pursue your passions.

4. Throw out what isn’t working.

We’ve gone beyond YOLO to something that could be its complement… leaving behind the bad. If we want to go forward feeling lighter, we must let go of grudges, fulfill commitments to ourselves, and keep our feet on the ground.

2016 gave us a jolt that showed us things don’t take care of themselves on their own. Today, more than ever, the times demand us to act with integrity. Our commitment is not for a distant future, but for all the acts of the year to come.

We need to leave behind the vices that don’t allow us to advance, and to turn our complaints into transformations.

5. Make a list of what you’re grateful for.

Take stock of everything you’re thankful for from 2016. A list can be a good way to reflect and see things in a new light—what might have seemed dark is actually filled with things to be hopeful about. To start, take a look around, and not at just what’s material.

Some suggestions for your list: the people who surround you, your work, family, friends, treasured objects, trips, compliments you received, something new you tried… anything can be something to be grateful for.

You can also add moments you spent in nature. Look at everything surrounding you with enchantment and thanks. Find happiness in the sky, a plan, a ray of sun.

6. Say goodbye!

Another thing to thank 2016 for is that it’s about to end!

What are you thankful for from 2016?