Close Out the Decade with Five Happy Things

by Belinda Munoz on December 16, 2009


We’re just a few days before a new decade, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already made plans big or small for the coming year.  It’s easy to welcome a new decade.  After all, it provides a break from all the things, good or bad, we want to leave behind and promises possibilities for exciting adventures we have yet to savor.

But a little helping of nostalgia is nourishment for the soul for several reasons.  It lets us appreciate our evolution over the years; it helps us get rooted in the present so we can appreciate how far we’ve come; and it guides our path into the unwritten future.

Ushering in a new decade is kind of a big deal, and I really can’t guarantee that I’ll be around for another new decade after this one.  So, I decided to make this turn-of-the decade a little bit special by remembering some of the things from the past ten years that are worth a second look.

I was quite pleased with the results — a sense of satisfaction, a healthy dose of confidence and an abundance of other happy feelings — that I thought I’d share the process with you so you, too, can experience the burst of positive energy I experienced:


Recall the highlights of the decade; occasions you treasured, memories that filled your heart, moments you’d live through again without hesitation.  The things we remember first will give us clues on what we value and either validate what we already know about ourselves or serve as a reminder of what matters to us in case we’ve drifted.

Consider these occasions:

  • Births
  • Weddings, Partnerships, Engagements
  • Renewal of vows
  • Graduations
  • Rites of Passages
  • Chance meetings (such as running into people you know/like in another city or country)
  • Revelations/Epiphanies


Think of some people you’ve met in the last 10 years who have left you with a lasting impact.  This past decade, I met a number of personal and professional heroes who have inspired and influenced me in profound ways.  I’ve been “infected” by their bug of passion, determination, peace, idealism-in-action, etc.  A part of them will be a part of me from here on out.

Remember these people in our lives:

  • Friends and family who have always been there for us
  • Clients/Customers/Adversaries who have become friends
  • Mentors who have enhanced us
  • Mentees who have benefited from our knowledge and experiences
  • People who have challenged us in a friendly competitive way
  • Strangers, people we’ve never met in person who have touched us in some meaningful way


Some skills will never be for me in this lifetime, such as basketball or playing a musical instrument on stage.  And thank goodness because I much prefer to watch a ballgame or listen to talented musicians from the audience.

Think about the skills or talents that you made an investment in and from which you are now reaping the benefits:

  • Learning a new language
  • Athleticism
  • Expression through art
  • Managing finances
  • Fundraising
  • Coaching/Teaching
  • Making friends
  • Public speaking; leading workshops; moderating panels


I smile when I think back to how free I was, how eager I was to try new and daring things, how little regard I had for concerns such as retirement and how limited my sense of community was ten years ago.  Now, things are quite different.  Knowing that I wouldn’t go back if I could indicates that I must be moving in the right direction.

Recall some of the things we’ve done that make us happy or proud:

  • Problems we’ve solved
  • Overcoming a bad situation
  • Personal or professional accomplishments
  • Awards/Accolades received
  • Followed our hearts having no doubt it’s the right thing to do
  • Built, grown or concluded a business venture
  • Daring things we never thought we’d do but did anyway (screaming with eyes closed)


It’s a lot of fun to relive our adventures in new cities or new countries.  Remember that crypt with all those bones decorating the walls and the ceilings in that one church?  Or how about that one trip when you did nothing to prepare a sightseeing itinerary and had the best time, anyway?

Reflect on some of the places you’ve been:

  • A place full of history, ancient architecture, or breathtaking landscape
  • A shrine to someone you admire
  • A house full of ghosts whose presence you didn’t see or feel but captured vividly on camera
  • A spot you’ve never been to before yet made you feel right at home
  • A state of mind best left in the past


It’s easy to focus on the worries and regrets that accumulate if we allow ourselves.  And as the poet Jane Hirshfield puts it, “I don’t know where time is, you can’t ever find it, but you can lose it.

Time.  There’s nothing we can do to stop its ticking.  And yet we can fill its passing with sweet and bittersweet moments.  Moments of laughter.  Moments of joy.  Moments of growth.  Moments of meaning.

And you?  Do you have any fond memories of occasions, people, skills, actions or places form the last ten years that you’d like to share?

Image by doug88888

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December 16, 2009 at 8:36 pm
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ideas With A Kick December 16, 2009 at 5:07 am

Hey Belinda,

This is a really good exercise. It’s common for a lot of us to end the year, look back at it and filter out all the achievements and the happy moments. Consciously identifying these moments is a good way to build some momentum for the next year.



2 Jeffrey Tang December 16, 2009 at 7:19 am

It feels strange to think back and realize that it’s been 10 years since the dawn of a new millenium and 9 years since the attack on the World Trade Center changed the direction of the world.

A decade is a long time … but it feels so short in hindsight. Curious how that occurs. I’m working on my own year/decade summary, and it’s a great exercise, if a little bit regretful. I see missed opportunities and wasted time, and I can’t help wishing that I’d done a better job of it. But of course, there’s no use in regretting, only in looking and moving forward.

Here’s to a great new year and new decade, Belinda!


3 Quinn December 16, 2009 at 12:33 pm

just running down your list of things to think about brought many a smile to my hart this afternoon. Thanks for the post, so often we focus on the negative it is high time we give happiness its due.


4 Patty - Why Not Start Now? December 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Hi Belinda – Absolutely love that quote from Jane Hirshfield. I’m all for honoring those precious moments, and in fact I’m thinking we must be linked up in some psychic manner. In essence, I just wrote about the same thing! Not an exact match or anything, but many similarities. Your piece, though, actually reminds me of something I did on New Year’s Eve 1999 – a lifeline. And I went back to my beginnings. It was a tremendously satisfying thing to do. Now, I’m a bit overwhelmed looking back at the last decade. There are so many sweet and bittersweet moments, as you say. One that stands out – November 2004, a train trip from Oregon to Minnesota. Sleep deprivation combined with a full-on sensory experience. Something new each day. Feeling completely alive.


5 LPC December 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Yes. So much better than focusing on what you didn’t manage to get done.


6 alex - unleash reality December 17, 2009 at 6:20 am

BELINDA Supremo Deluxe!!

really really liked this.

was dripping honesty and heart and authenticity.

not usually a fan of lists and things but this one had an effect.

I keep a file on my computer called “making the legend” where i write about cool and significant happenings so i can look back and reminisce but really cool to put it all onto a page.

adds up in a really cool way. kinda like imagining all the food you’ve eaten over the course of a day on a single plate. has a magic effect :P

really cool site all round. magic honest content and sexy slick theme.

keep well and in touch
alex –


7 Heather Rice December 17, 2009 at 6:25 am

This is a really amazing way to recap 2009 and look forward.


8 Eric | Eden Journal December 17, 2009 at 6:37 am

Hi Belinda, I just found you through a comment you left on Patty’s site. You know, it didn’t even occur to me that this is the end of the decade until I read your blog a few minutes ago. I look back and wonder where that 10 years went. It seems to have gone by so quickly. It seems like just the other day we were worried about Y2K. I have so many great memories, I think i’m going to need to jot them down and spend some time enjoying the thoughts and memories of years gone by. Sounds like a great activity to do with the family.


9 Bob Bessette December 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Hi Belinda,
A couple of occasions (fairly recent) associated with my eldest daughter was 1) when she opened up the envelope from her first choice college and was accepted with a great financial package and 2) dropping off my daughter at college for the first time. I must admit I broke down when I gave her that final hug. I wasn’t expecting it but it happened (cried like a baby). She is very happy now at her new home and I’m off tomorrow to pick her up to come home for a 4 week holiday break. Crazy how time has flown! Thanks for this thought-provoking post.



10 schmabes December 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

Thanks for the reminder. It’s kind of trippy to think in terms of decades. for instance, I can say that I’m 4 in decade years ;-) . …and loving every day as the years go by.


11 Madeleine December 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Belinda, What a great and timely post. Reflecting on it, I realize that I’ve had some terrific experiences this past decade. I survived Seattle’s Nisqually earthquake in 2001 (althopugh the building I was in did a lot of swaying), I saw my youngest child graduate from college, I joined Toastmasters and am still learning, I started (and finished) my second career, I met my BF and traveled around Cape Horn on a ship with him. And more.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and lots of highlights in the decade ahead.


12 ayo December 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Hello Belinda

Stumbled on your blog from bobs’totally unique life blog.

Loved this post. Taking time out to review the years activities is quite refreshing,encouraging,enlightening and motivating.

It gives you something to look forward to in the coming year and fills your heart with expectations.

You take care of yourself.


13 Ralph December 28, 2009 at 1:45 am

I always get excited about a new year. I’ve got so many goals that I haven’t accomplished this decade that I am determined to accomplish in the next. Thanks for the reminder.


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