On this, the darkest day of the year, we know one thing for sure—the light will return, bringing brighter, better days.

This makes it one of my favorite days of the year.  I’m grateful for the powerful reminder that no matter how dark it gets, new life is always gestating.

In early November I attended a TED-X conference where each speaker conveyed how the light and darkness of the past inspired him or her to create a new future.

The final speaker, a Hip Hop artist named Xola Malik, rapped about how growing up in the ’hood led him onto a dark path of negativity, misogyny, and substance abuse until a remarkable inner shift illuminated a new way. Now, with profound respect, he honored women for their courage and progress in the fight for full gender equality.

As he looked out into the audience, his gaze deepened.

“Women, raise your hand if you think your best days are still to come.” Every female hand went up. “Men, applaud them.” And they did.

After conceding that there is more ground to cover, he repeated his earlier instructions…with a slight variation.

“Women, raise your hand if you think your best days are still to come. Men, stand up and applaud them.” When the applause tapered off, he said, “Women, you just received a standing ovation.”

Every cell in my body was nourished by the richness of that moment. I was infused with hope and courage to press forward.

We encounter both light and darkness on the journey of health

The bright days fuel our hope. But when old habits return and we abandon practices that generate health, the darkness creeps in. It’s easy to get lost in the dark, believing that it shrouds our future.

Yet, where there is darkness, there is hope for light. In fact, it is the shadows that prompt us to seek the light and to focus on what matters most. Darkness is our teacher.

In the words of Simon & Garfunkel:

“Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.”

Even in the dark, things are happening under the surface. Roots are being nourished so that the branches can reach towards the light.

Take a moment to ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from the dark?
  • What new life is gestating inside of me?
  • How can I use my past—the darkness and the light—to cultivate hope for a better future?
  • When the darkness sets in, can I choose to believe that the light will find its way back to me?

On this, the darkest day of the year, I ask you to plant a seed of hope. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “My best days are still to come.” Then clap your hands together, applauding your courage for being on the path and for loving yourself enough that you can’t give up, no matter how dark it gets.

As you do, I will be standing beside you, applauding your courage and conviction, your vision and your future.

You just received a standing ovation.