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Last Year Wasn't That Bad

Last Year Wasn't That Bad

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Tell me you don't recognize this: "Well, last year was a total fiasco, but next year will be totally different!" "I failed at everything last year, but the coming year I will have an absolute metamorphosis!"

I've uttered and have heard these statements too many a time. They are so cliché, and so wrong.

Now, hold it. I do believe people can and will change, if only they wish to. A person can change his or her life around in a second, and I dare not mock the repentant.

The issue I take with these statements is with the first half of each one: "Last year was a failure. I failed last year. I was a loser…"

How can you discard a year like that?No, you weren't! That is so not true! You are so wrong! How can you discard a year like that? Weren't there so many good things you did, wonderful times you experienced, and many moments of commendable self-growth?

Regardless of how many unpleasant incidents occurred in your life in the last 12 months – whether a divorce, the death of a loved one, a job loss, the pain of estranged children, or other personal challenges – there were likely still many positive moments.

Did you not give charity?

Did you not contribute to the building of a relationship?

Did you not celebrate others' happiness with them, and mourn for your fellow's pain?

Did you never smile?

Did you not see the hand of G‑d guiding your steps?

The attitude of "last year was bad …" is wrong, a lie.

But worse, it guarantees another "failure" for the year to come. The logic is simple: If you were unable to see how much you accomplished last year, how many blessings you accumulated, what are the chances you will be aware of your growth, and the positive events coming your way during the year to come?

In summary: When summing up the year behind us, let us accept the year for what it was: a year of blessing for which we are grateful, of admirable growth of which we are proud, and of mistakes and hardships from which we grew. All in all it was a good year, thank G‑d.

And G‑d willing, next year will be even better.

Rabbi Levi Avtzon lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife Chaya and their children. He is associate rabbi and director of outreach at the Linksfield Senderwood Hebrew Congregationl.
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Anonymous amsterdam, Netherlands June 5, 2011

Thank you Thank you for such a positive note on looking back. It makes the future so much more open and full of possibilities. It is indeed a trap to be so hard on one self and then forget the smiles and the accomplishments. I am very good in being so hard and reading your article and setting my mind to it really helped straight away and when i say Shema i will think of these words i read today.
Shalom from Jacky Reply

Shira Epstein New Hemsptead Ny, US September 6, 2010

I really like this article I would like to comment on this because i have had some rough years myself on and off.

L'shanah Tovah Reply

Anonymous Longmeadow September 3, 2010

Thank you! This is a very beautiful way of looking back, as well as forward to the year to come. Much more meaningful and positive than just regarding the previous year (and ourselves) as just a failure. Reply

Anonymous Washington, DC September 2, 2010

Thank you for your words This is beautiful, Rabbi, and very true. For the past few days, I have been really trying to say "Thank you, G-d!" every time a problem is averted or a small blessing comes my way. Wow! I've been saying it a lot! And, if someone heard about my life, they would probably say it was a particularly tough one with lots of struggles and problems. But, I choose to see the positive and be thankful for what I do have. I'm not perfect at it, but I am committed to being appreciative of everything that is good in my life. Reply

MALKA KLANG bklyn, ny September 2, 2010

article what a great attitude and direction in life. Easier said than done, but if we internalize it-can affect great positive changes. Thank you for your beautiful insights as usual and thank you for the nachas I get from each and every thing you write. Tante Malky Reply

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