It’s been quite the year and true to form, I decided to reflect in writing. The more that I wrote, the more that I realized how valuable this reflection could be for someone else. Hence, this blog was born; a condensed version of my thoughts on the past year. There have been ups, downs, twists, turns and so much more. However, through it all, I’ve come out as a better person and I hope, that in some way, this blog can add similar value to your life.

Let’s get started.

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You Can Be Happy And Sad At The Same Time 

I’ve felt the full range of emotions as a twenty five year old; happy, sad, excited, fearful, hopeful, doubtful, confident, anxious, etc.. You name it, I’ve felt it. However, the more time I’ve spent with different emotions, the more I’ve realized that feelings are not dichotomous; they are not good, they are not bad, they just are. Through reinfection and awareness, I’ve realized that when you can identify emotions in the moment, you can control them. When you control your awareness, you can control your emotions rather than let them control you. 

You Can’t Plan For Life, But…

Last year, if you told me that I’d be wearing a surgical mask to the grocery store, I would have called you crazy. Needless to say, this past year for me has been a rollercoaster. I graduated from PT school, worked two jobs while I studied for the biggest test of my life, move to Philadelphia, signed up for an Ironman 70.3, planned a wedding, planned another wedding, felt helpless as my wife had an emergency appendectomy all while attempting to navigate the COVID craziness with as much grace and poise as possible. However, through it all, especially in the past month, I’ve been reminded that you just can’t plan for life. Sometimes, you have to roll with the punches, make the necessary adjustments, trust in the process that we call life and take the next two points to heart…

Control What You Can Control 

To build on the previous point, this year reinforced (over and over and over again) that you can’t control what happens to you in life, but you can always control how you respond. The world felt this lack of control on a collective level with the emergence of COVID-19, however, I would argue that if you’re reading this blog, like me, you’ve felt helpless at some point throughout the past year, or maybe even month, or week, or today. I’m here to tell you that there are only a handful of things that we can control in life. Those things are attitude and effort, both of which are governed by our choices. In other words, our ability to make conscious decisions for ourselves is the ultimate power and freedom. You have the power to change your perspective (attitude), you have the power to change your effort and in the end, you have the power to change your life, but it all starts with the decision to do so.

There Is Good In Every Situation

Sometimes you have to look harder than others, but the statement above couldn’t be more true. When Michaela and I chose to postpone our original wedding (due to COVID), we were beside ourselves. It was one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve been a part of in recent memory. In that moment of decision, it seemed as if there was no good that could come out of the postponement of our dream wedding. However, over the next month and especially on our wedding day, we came to realize that we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. While it wasn’t the wedding that we had originally planned, it was the absolute perfect day. There was so much good to be found in the circumstances, but we had to actively look for it. I understand that the current times are tough times for many people, but I’m not afraid to argue that there is some good to be found for everyone. In the end, all that we have is this moment. The past and the future are thoughts, but this moment is tangible. Take a second to slow down and express gratitude for everything that you have in this moment, it can change things for you if you let it.

Struggle Is Found In Strength 

This is not a new topic for me, but one that I would be remiss if I left out. This past year has been a struggle on many levels, but I’m not complaining. Believe it or not, I welcome struggle because it has never failed to leave me with strength. The prospect of adversity is one that eventually becomes unavoidable; we all face hardship. However, at the end of the day, it is challenge and discomfort that help us grow into better versions of ourselves. It’s not a comfortable process and it’s not a passive one either. For me, this year has been marked by struggled turned to strength and I want to encourage you to take steps to do the same. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out and let me help guide you in the direction that you want to go.

You’re Allowed To Have Bad Days

While I would love to pretend that 25 was a year full of just roses and sunshine, that would be a lie. I’ve had some tough days, like we all do; it’s human. However, I’ve learned that a bad day doesn’t have to derail you. Instead, I take it for what it is and move on. Here’s the secret – don’t beat yourself up, you’re allowed to have bad days. In the long run, it’s about consistency, not perfection. Take the time to invest in yourself every single day and build better habits that will serve you in the long run. The bad days will come and go, but don’t let one turn into two just because. It happens, it’s okay, it’s time to move on and keep pushing forward.

Never Underestimate The Power Of A Smile 

This is nothing new for me, but it’s something that I’ve taken to heart even more in my 25th year. I’m grateful to wake up and smile every single day; my wife does that for me. When I see her, I can’t help but smile and then feel the need to pass that along. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t belabor the point; you never know what someone else is going through and a simple smile can make someone’s day and even change someone’s life. Send a nice text. Hold a door. Flash a smile.

When You’re Not Sure What To Do

The older I get, the more I realized that I know what I’m doing, but in a much more real sense, have no idea what I’m doing (did anyone get the reference). The more life that I live, the more that I realize there is so much to learn and so little time. This past year has been filled with uncertainty and that can be scary and even paralyzing. However, if there’s one thing that I know to be effective, it’s this; when you’re not sure what to do, just do the next right thing. In life, whatever your occupation or circumstances, do the right thing, take the next step, make adjustments, learn from failures, lift up other people, believe in yourself, have faith and never stop being you. If you can do those things on a consistent basis, with positive energy and the best intentions, you’ll be just fine (more than just fine).

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I’m grateful for all that this past year has brought me, but now, I’m looking forward to 26. I appreciate every single one of you who has supported me, encouraged me and even just followed along. Thank you for time and attention, I promise to keep bringing my best and adding as much value as I can. I’m not sure what 26 brings, but as I part with 25, let me leave you with just a few quotes to think about…

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

Carl Bard

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

Booker T. Washington 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Maya Angelou  

“The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.” 

Socrates

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” 

Bernard M. Baruch  

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”

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Thank you for reading!

Here’s to 26. 

Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT

IG: @joerinaldi.dpt

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