This is the time of year when most of us reflect on the past 365 days. Was it good year? Was it bad year? What could I have done differently? For me, this past year was nowhere near perfect, but it was one of the best years I have had in a long time. In order to understand why this year was so good I have to start from the beginning.

Where it all started…

The past few years, like most twenty-somethings, I felt completely lost. I was going through the motions of what was expected of me, but never really asking myself what would make me happy at this point in my adult life.

That lost feeling started to lead me down a long, hard road. One where, to be perfectly honest, ended in depression. This time last year I hit my rock bottom. I was making questionable life choices, choices that I know my family would not be proud of. I had put on a good 35 pounds. I stopped hanging out with my friends because I felt so bad about myself. At one point I did not leave my house for almost two weeks because I felt like I could not face the world.

Never in my life had I felt this isolated and sad. For those who know me, know that I have always been a happy and positive person. I felt like life had finally beaten me down and won. It was then I knew I could not allow myself to keep feeling this way if I ever wanted things to be different. That was when I made the choice to stop playing the “woe is me card,” and start living my life again. It was my first positive choice of the year.

Once I realized I did not want to be a victim anymore, I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in my life and what I wanted most out of the year ahead. So I made a list of goals and feelings.

First, I decided to change my eating and fitness habits. I knew I was not being good to my body. That was a good start because once I started losing weight I started to find the confidence I had lost along the way.

After that, I choose to start seeing my life as “the glass half full.” I found when certain things would not go my way it helped to find the silver lining. Yes, I know that sounds cheesy but it really worked for me. No situation is ever so dire that you cannot find something to be thankful for.

One of the best choices I make everyday is to not judge myself based on what other people are doing or what they have. I know I mentioned this before in past posts, but it really saved me.

The few friends I talk to who are depressed all have one thing in common: they based their happiness on the people around them. That is no way to find what you are looking for. Every person is different and they don’t find happiness in the same things.

Going back to church was also a really positive choice I made this year that has helped me grow as a person. It gave me a new community to connect to and gave me back a relationship I was to east to let go.

The main reason I was so unhappy and lost before was because I kept choosing to be unhappy and lost.

I finally got sick of looking at the world as a bad and unfair place. Happiness is a feeling that doesn’t just happen; it is a conscious choice you must make everyday. I can choose to let something like a parking ticket ruin my night or I can choose to accept what I cannot change and live in the moment.

Of course bad things happened to me this year that left me sad and crushed. I dealt with loss, I had my heart broken, and I was disappointed about not getting a job I wanted. But because I choose early on in the year that I wanted to deal with my problems differently I was able to get through these tough moments and come out the other side. I was able to take pride in the fact that I am stronger than I thought.

I do not know where I would be if I stayed on to the path I was on last year. I am happy I made that first choice to change because that led to a positive domino effect in my life. It wasn’t something that happened over night but it happened, and it will continue to do so as long as I keep making positive choices. I wouldn’t change anything about this year the good or the bad.

For anyone who feels lost or sad, the only person who can change those feelings is you. So what are you waiting for, take the first step towards positive change.

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