I am in shock at how quickly 2017 seems to have flown by! Though, to be honest, there were moments in 2017 when I thought the year would never end!

2017 was a rollercoaster of a year both professionally and personally. I thought about writing a blog post to share the ups and the downs but I’m trying to keep this short and simple. In a nutshell:

  • – I turned 40.
  • – I spent a lot of effort and energy trying to clarify my goals and plans. Some of this time was well-invested. Some of it may have been wasted. (I spent a lot of time on Facebook.)
  • – I also set the intention of lightening up. I started embracing my inner child and finding the elements of fun all around me.

As I sat down and reflected on the things that went right and the things that went wrong, I kept coming back to the same theme:

GEZELLIG

Gezellig (or gezelligheid) is a Dutch word that my friends Jody (a master of mindful meal planning and baker of the world’s best brownies!) and Natalie (an online marketing guru and fellow creative) introduced me to. It is used to describe something that is “cosy” or “comfortable”. According to Wikipedia, the word exists in English too but I don’t think I have every heard it an English phrase. But we should be using it more. Gezellig is more than just a simple adjective. It is used in an emotional, heart-felt sense.

Feeling like you belong. Like you are where you need/want/desire to be. It is the feeling you get when you see an old friend.

As Wikipedia put it, gezelligheid “is a general and abstract sensation of individual well-being that one typically shares with others”.

When things went wrong in 2017, it was usually because I wasn’t feeling gezellig. I wasn’t feeling comfortable and connected to the task or the person I was working with. And, when things went well, I noticed that the time flew by. The tasks seemed easy to complete. I’d have a hard time saying goodbye to the people I was.

I think, for a  lot of people, the world in 2017 seemed to be missing gezelligheid too. There is a basic human need to feel like you belong. It is so basic that was included among the 5 things psychologist Abraham Maslow concluded that humans need in order to motivate themselves through different challenges in life.

Many of us were already running on empty but the extra stresses that have come from watching many world leaders preaching nationalist views has trickled down and we hear stories of communities and families breaking apart as a result (or maybe this is happening in your community or family and, if it is, I am really sorry you are going through this. It sucks!).

I believe there was a shift in 2017. We have finally had enough. We are maxed out on trying to function effectively, trying to feel that sense of belonging, in a world that feels more disconnected. And we realize that having 1000 friends or followers on social media doesn’t make us feel any more connected to the people in the next room (or sitting across the table from you).

I do believe things are starting to change. People are speaking up more. They are more willing to be vulnerable and to share their stories. They are more able to ignore the nasty responses from trolls. (The haters are going to hate because the haters still feel disconnected and they aren’t ready to give that up.)

My intention for 2018 is to continue to focus on creating gezelligheid. In my own life by connecting with the people who are important to me and to whom I feel that I belong with and who I want to feel that they belong with me. And, bit by bit, person by person, we can pay gezelligheid forward and create more connections in the world. Because, as is the theme of AJ Jacobs’s new book, It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the Family Tree, humans all arose from a shared set of ancestors. We are, technically, all cousins. We all belong.

Here are some of the gezellig actions that I want to continue or start in 2018:

  • – Make a list of friends I want to reconnect with and call a different person each week to catch up.
  • – Schedule a date night with my husband (we don’t even have to go out. Just put on a nice pair of jeans and a clean shirt and have dinner and a movie at home after the kids go to sleep).
  • – Create a list of activities that each person in the family loves to do or wants to try and then schedule a time to do them. For example, I love doing yoga and getting my kids involved so we’ve been playing some of these winter-themed games to our family time right now.
  • – Unplug at least once a week with a technology-free day! And turn off the wifi by 10pm during the week because there are no important work emails or Facebook status updates that need to be read or shared that late at night. It can wait until the morning.
  • – Read more books.

And I’d love to hear some of your ideas! What makes you feel connected to the people around you?

Happy 2018 and here’s to a year filled with more laughter, more connections, and more gezelligheid!

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