In many parts of the world, 2012 has begun. Over here I’m still lagging behind, but nevertheless, what’s the hurry.

Decided to go slow on the last day of the year. Get a cup of pike place brew by the seaside and watch the last 12 hours of 2011 go by. Need to give my ACL a breather too; I guess it must be starting to protest after all the hiking and biking in SF. Age is evidently catching up huh, or maybe some things just don’t heal no matter how much time you give it.

2011 has been quite a milestone. I think coming to the US has changed me a lot, and made me grow a lot. You’d figure how much you take the little things in life for granted, and how much of this world you have yet to see and experience. You start fighting with yourself over decisions you have to make at the crossroads. And you learn the pain of compromising because you can’t always have everything you want. Life isn’t a happily ever after fairytale ending; it’s the chapters that come after. Reality can be cruel and merciless. You can take it in your stride, but it isn’t always easy to swallow.

But life isn’t always a doomsday scene from Hollywood. I’m pretty sure we will still be here after 2012, so there’s really no need to get all depressed (or happy — well that’s severe depression actually) that the world is going to end within the next 365 days.

I think my biggest takeaway from this year is finding (or sometimes self-creating) happy spots.

Many of us are already experts in manufacturing grief. Open your photo library from way way back, reminisce the old times, play that nostalgic tune, read those old diary entries. Tear your heart out over those times you wished you could return to, replay those old emotions that you consciously preserved somewhere in the depths of your heart. I do that sometimes, and I’d feel terrible. Objectively speaking, it’s pretty morbid isn’t it? It’s no difference from self-torture, yet we seem to like to do that to ourselves. It’s the biggest irony in human psychology, I think, to compete in feeling the most miserable. I’m sure you’ve witnessed an episode like that.

And so I figured that perhaps it might be better for a change and not be such a psycho and indulge in self-torture. Also known as emoing in today’s lingo. We are have such fantastic cognitive abilities that we are capable of creating our own illusions that’s real enough to fool ourselves. So if we can put ourselves into grief-mode, I guess it shouldn’t be that hard to create happy vibes. And it really isn’t that hard, if you stop craning your neck and squinting your eyes to find that happiness you thought resided in the distant future.

For an extrovert, I find it ironic that I find happiness in solitude. (Hear me out before you lay judgment that I’m crazy.)

Solitude is actually very hard to deal with. Extroverts get an extremely hard time, because we are naturally engineered to talk, socialize and interact. We struggle being alone because not reaching our daily yakking quota drives us up the wall.

But talking in excess isn’t always good. They say moderation is key, and I guess that applies to extroversion. In the right circumstances, I talk lot. Always had and I predict I always will. But sometimes when you keep talking you don’t listen. And you miss out a lot when you don’t listen. You tell people your side of the story but you stop hearing others’. You are used to flooding your mind with words and thoughts that you don’t know how to control them when you lack a channel to output. And when that happens you feel the urge to find someone or some way to let out your thoughts before they drown your soul.

It takes time and I guess a tad of determination to quieten your mind and let it rest. Like how our bodies get tired after physical strain, our minds need a break too from mental processing. When you can finally stare into nothingness and let your mind empty out, it’s really a nice feeling.

I think solitude helps you empty out all those old crappy lingering thoughts more easily. It’s hard at first when your mind keeps filling up and its contents have no where to go except swirl round and round in your thought space. But once in a while those thoughts find their own escape routes and clear out from your mind, and you’d feel like there’s suddenly a lot more room up there. When there’s less clutter and more space, you welcome happy feelings a little more easily. Or at least that’s what I get. It’s nice to let those burdens go once in a while and make room for happy feelings. The truth is that those burdens will always come back sooner or later, and reality will always come knocking on your door no matter how much you’d try to ignore. But that doesn’t mean you have to torture yourself by carrying all that heavy thoughts with you 24/7. To put it in a crude and sarcastic way this is nothing more than escapism. Then again, who cares? Escapism beats the gravity of reality, so I’ll gladly opt for the former.

My new year resolution is to be more honest with myself and not to live with a heavy heart. Life sucks sometimes, but there is always a happy tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.

Happy new year people.