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At least it's not the end of the world

When we gloss back over the past year, it’s easy to get caught up in 2012 end-of-the-world prophecies. From extreme natural disasters to social and political upheaval and economic disparity, it was a tumultuous year around the globe.

Let’s recap.

January – A series of blizzards ravaged the United States.

February – Political revolt led to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepping down as leader of Egypt. This act ended one of the world's most long-standing dictatorships.

March – One of the five largest earthquakes ever recorded happened in Japan. It measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, critically damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, causing the country over $300 billion and claiming 20,000 lives.

April – The United States experienced one of the worst storms in its history. In 48 hours over 200 tornadoes tore through 16 states. Two weeks later the 2011 Super Outbreak occurred, the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded. All totaled, nearly 800 tornados ripped through the United States in April, causing billions in damage.

May – The world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, was killed in Pakistan.

August – Our country lost its AAA bond rating, sending shock waves of anxiety across the world. People feared a double-dip recession and a global financial system meltdown. The same month the United States hit its debt ceiling, and the American people lambasted Congress for its failure to act quickly. At the last hour, Congress came through to avoid shutdown but accomplished little to ward off public fears.

September – The Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York, protests aimed at corporate influence, social and economic inequality and corruption. The movement sparked similar demonstrations around the world.

October - Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed in Libya. His death followed months of rebellion.

Good times, right?

Use these events to validate all those end-of-the-world prophecies, and what do we have to look forward to in 2012? Maybe a polar shift that will change the rotation of the planet, causing catastrophic floods and earthquakes? Maybe the comet Elinin slamming into earth? Perhaps the U.S. dollar will fail and the New World Order will come to power. Or as we move into the Age of Aquarius, the human race will endure a long period of suffering followed by a shift in human consciousness.

We aren’t psychics. We can’t say if any of these things will happen. But we’re not buying into the fear. Most of these prophecies are way beyond our control anyway. So we’re approaching 2012 with a positive attitude, darn it, and we wish everyone else would do the same.

Here are some ways to stay upbeat:

Simplify your life – Focus on simple pleasures. Replace expensive activities with things more fulfilling.

Be thankful for what you have – Look around you. See the good things in your life you tend to overlook. Don’t focus on what you don’t have; focus on blessings.

Turn off the news – Nothing brings a funk like a good dose of evening news. Do something else. Consider a new hobby.

Get involved  – National issues seem impenetrable at times. Make a difference locally by volunteering.

As Father Time thumbs over the last page of the 2011 calendar, remember that despite this orb’s abundant craziness, there is as much or more beauty and goodness in the world. The planet’s not gone yet, folks, so let’s celebrate the magnificent opportunity we have to be here now.

Here’s wishing that you and yours create a beautiful 2012 calendar together.

Happy New Year from the Progress!