Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

Hackett: Reflections and resolutions

What a year 2022 has been.

Here we thought 2021 was a doozy, I think 2022 gave it a run for its money.

It’s hard to comprehend sometimes how much was actually compacted into 2022.

I’ll share some personal reflections, that I hope can help you put a little perspective on the challenges and joys you faced over the past 12 months.

It’s hard to fathom, but at this time last year, I was simply a sports reporter, trying to live out a lifelong dream. The World Junior Hockey Championships had arrived in Red Deer, under some scrutiny (completely different scrutiny than Hockey Canada faces today). COVID-19 had reared its ugly head and players began testing positive the moment they arrived in Red Deer and Edmonton.

I had watched the tournament since I was old enough to talk and when it was announced the tournament would be in my own backyard, I was over the moon. I still remember the moment when I got a call and was told the news. It felt surreal.

Little did I know how much the world would change and how different covering the event would be from my original vision.

But still, it arrived, players were here. Games were happening. Crowds weren’t quite what people had imagined, with vaccine requirements and mask mandates. You couldn’t even eat or drink at your seat.

At least for a minute anyway, the tournament was cancelled a few days in, as more and more players tested positive for the virus. In terms of our current reality, it seems almost surreal now – daily testing of the players.

So I spent the first few days of 2022 with a wide-open schedule, wondering how I would fill my nights after I had expected to cover an international hockey tournament.

After that, I found a lot of joy. I got engaged, we got a puppy, I went to see the Blue Jays play a few times and I got to see two great friends get married. This year was a whirlwind, with of course some bad mixed in, but now isn’t the time to dwell on that.

I think the New Year should be about moving forward. Moving on from things you didn’t like in 2022 and trying to chart a new course in 2023. Resolution is a word that carries too much weight, that sometimes holds us back before we even get started. If we don’t go to the gym more in the first month of the year, or start eating healthier, it’s easy to feel like we’ve failed on our goals and fall back into old habits.

I had a friend, who always said it was his goal to be happier next year. Short and simple. In terms of quantifying, maybe not exactly the most achievable goal, but an admirable one nonetheless.

Long term it’s certainly hard to measure and it’s even more difficult to look back at the end of the year and try and gauge how you felt through the entire year prior.

But if we take that goal and try to break it down into weeks or days, it becomes more manageable. And forget the comparison, just be happier than you were yesterday or do something that brings you a little bit of joy today, no matter how big or small that ask is.

I read a book earlier this year, called Thanks a Thousand by A.J. Jacobs. He set out to thank every person involved in making his daily coffee. He called it a “gratitude journey”. Sounds simple right?

He thanked his barista, an obvious one, but also the driver who delivered the coffee beans to the store and the designer of the cup, lid and sleeve that the coffee came in. He thanked the man who selected the perfect coffee blend and the farmer who harvests the bean. He left no stone unturned and in the process, uncovered an important lesson about gratitude.

If we all stopped and said thank you more often, really truly said thank you, not just your typical mumbled thank you under your breath as you leave a store, something changes inside of us. You grow a bit more appreciation for what that person has actually done for you and in some instances, you give them a little bit of joy that helps brighten up their day, as Jacobs outlined in his book.

Even after that reading, I failed on this in 2022. I can hear those hollow thank yous in my head. It seems easy, but in the complicated, fast-paced world we live in, it’s a lot more challenging than you think.

Especially now, it is easy to get tied up in our differences, to focus on our disagreements and to not hear the other side. There’s too much yelling these days, not enough introspection. Social Media has a way of drawing out the worst in us, while occasionally providing some good.

So in 2023, I challenge everybody to say thank you with a bit more vigour, with a bit more enthusiasm than you did in 2022. If you can spare a second, ask that person how they’re doing and truly listen if they do want to share. It won’t always work out, but it can be empowering when it does.

Let’s all forgive ourselves a little more next year, too. It’s been hard these last few years and sometimes we get too caught up in the day-to-day, we forget that we are harder on ourselves than we ever would be on our friends or family.

If we can just add a little bit of forgiveness and gratitude into our day-to-day, surely we can make 2023 a year to remember.

Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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