Pile of cards on the table

I’ve heard some criticism of the whole “Live in the moment” adage on the basis that remembering the past can give us a lot of pleasure and meaning.

This can be done any anytime, of course, but I find myself pretty reflective this time of year. Notice–this is different than setting intentions or goals. I did some of that too! But I find it almost impossible to look ahead unless I’ve set aside time to remember, to look back in an appreciative way.

I send a lot of snail mail, so I often get a lot in return. Throughout the year, I hang all my correspondence up on a wire in my home office. Cards from clients, birthday greetings, thank you cards from non-profits I support. At least 50% is from my soul sister Emily, another 25% from close friends and family, and the rest is usually a surprise. Someone who remembers me out of the blue, or someone I hardly know whose life intersected with mine in a meaningful way.

At the end of the year, I take everything down. I read them again, save a few, cut out images from others. And I leave the wire empty–an act of faith, really, that it will be filled again, and that I will continue to experience connection in the new year.

Several years ago, I used Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map framework to identify four core desired feelings: Wise, Alive, Satisfied, and Connected. These have been such a compass for me–I have trained myself to evaluate every invitation and every commitment according to them. Will saying “yes” allow me to feel more wise, alive, satisfied, or connected? If not, it’s a pass for me.

My new year’s snail mail ritual allows me to focus on my core desired feeling of connection. There is so much being written right now about loneliness (like this and this) and the toll it takes on us when we’re not experiencing enough connection. Maybe snail mail isn’t your thing, but some other new year’s rituals you might try are:

  • Scroll through your text messages and appreciate everyone who reached out to you, whether it was to wish you Happy Birthday or to coordinate logistics
  • Look through your calendar to notice times you were with others–even things like doctor’s visits count
  • Reach out to someone you love–it’s hard to experience connection if you’re not initiating
  • During a routine errand in the next week, make a point to go slowly and notice the humans around you. Talk with the bank teller or smile at a child standing in line at the grocery store or sincerely thank someone who helps you with something

It would not surprise me at all if those rituals grew a little more connection in your life. We really need it now more than ever.