I can’t quite believe that this will be my last column for 2013, and co-incidentally it is also my 100th piece for getwestlondon.
Yes, I’ve hit a century. (Something we could have done more with in Australia recently.)
As always when it comes to this time of year, it’s inevitable that you look back at the year and assess how good or not it has been. And I don’t mean on a global or national level, but in your own life. So I’ve been thinking about 2013 and what’s happened and I’ve got tell you, after much thought, contemplation and weighing up ( good and bad) that it’s been kind of average.
Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with average. I often think that the word itself is very misunderstood and most of us use it with negative connotations. However I’ve come to realise that in doing so we are really doing the word a disservice. You see average is just the same as OK, good, fine and not bad - all terms that we should really treasure when we’re using them to describe our lives.
The problem is we’ve all come to believe that we should strive for big highs, to want to answer that ubiquitous question ‘How are you?’ with words like amazing, fantastic and brilliant. We want a life that is full of excitement and thrills and surely that’s just not realistic. It’s also pretty dangerous, because the highs and the thrills are often followed, in my experience, by the polar opposites – lows and gloom.
It’s no surprise to me then, that society’s expectation of extreme happiness is strongly linked to the ever rising number of people around the world who are suffering from depression. Aspired heights can’t be reached, and therefore the reaction is often a very tragic fall into depression. The World Health Organisation even predicts that by 2030 more people worldwide will be affected by depression than by any other health condition. And if that isn’t a depressing fact I don’t know what is.
Alongside reflecting on the year that has passed, it’s also the time to set our sights on 2014. So is it wrong to crave and strive for everything to be perfect in your life next year? Not at all, but there has to be some realism in your dreams too. If I told you that in 2014 I’m going to start a new career as a brain surgeon or a supermodel, you’d do right to laugh in my face. But if my endeavours were maybe to include starting to write a book, developing my radio work and to continue being as good a Mum as possible, then maybe I might just have a chance. Hopefully that way, in twelve months time I won’t be looking back on 2014 thinking about what a failure I’ve been.
For me, the bottom line is that we need to stop striving for extreme happiness and instead aim for contentment. That way, looking back on a year that has been average will be accepted as extremely successful. OK, in 2013 I may not have transformed my career, won the lottery or found the next love of my life. But I’ve had no major dramas, I’ve worked hard and managed to pay the bills and I’m finishing the year fitter and healthier than I’ve been for years. And most importantly I continue to live a very nice life in Ealing with my little angel Molly. And if that’s average, then you know what, I highly recommend it.
NOTE TO SELF: I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!