Best of 2016 (The Annual UnTangled Top Ten Lists)

best of 2016

Photo Credit: Bigstock (Gajus)

I’m a big believer in holiday traditions.

From lighting fires in the fireplace, to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, to decorating the tree while watching It’s a Wonderful Life, I ritualize everything. This year, we watched A Christmas Story on Christmas Day, and I suggested making it a tradition. My wife and kids all rolled their eyes. So we have a new tradition. I believe traditions are important, because rituals anchor us in an increasingly untethered world.

And one of my favorite annual rituals is the year end top ten lists that emerge between Christmas and New Year. This ritual is a way to integrate everything that has gone before. It’s a way to honor the year and then let it go, so we can welcome in a new year.

So, for the fifth year in a row here at UnTangled, here are the Top Ten UnTangled (and Artisan) posts of the year (according to Facebook shares), the best of the rest (according to me), and a list of the ten books I enjoyed most in the past year. I hope you enjoy, too. But it’s okay if you want to roll your eyes…

Top Ten Posts (according to Facebook):

  1. A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl (About How Fast She’s Walking Away)
  2. An Open Letter from a Therapist to His Clients
  3. I Can’t Believe Anyone Goes to Therapy (Says the Therapist)
  4. A Father’s Letter to His Little Ones (In the Wee Hours of the Election)
  5. Why Healing Our Hearts Might Be Simpler Than We Think
  6. How to Talk with Family About Politics This Holiday Season
  7. A Post About Marriage and What We’ve All Longed for Since the Crib
  8. The Simple (But Not Easy) Choice That Will Define All of Us
  9. Don’t Try to Make Your Life Better (Make It Beautiful-er)
  10. The Life Changing Difference Between Seeing Beauty and Seeing Beautifully

The Best of the Rest (according to Kelly):

  1. The Kindness Challenge
  2. This Could Be the Difference Between a Life of Suffering and Joy
  3. The Secret to Becoming Who You’ve Always Wanted to Be
  4. The Antidote to All the Crap in Your Facebook Feed
  5. What Will People Think of the New Me? (A Post About Courage)
  6. The Truth (and the Surprisingly Good News) About Who We Really Marry
  7. The Subliminal Sexism Both Men and Women Are Still Listening To
  8. The 71 Most Effective Ways to Avoid Feeling What You’re Feeling
  9. It’s All the Rage: How Outrage Has Become a Virtue
  10. This is How Kids Will React When Their Electronics Are Taken Away

Kelly’s Favorite Reads of 2016:  

  1. The Alphabet of Grace—Frederick Buechner
  2. Anam Cara—John O’Donohue
  3. Upstream—Mary Oliver
  4. Small Victories—Anne LaMott
  5. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten—Robert Fulghum
  6. Very Married—Katherine Willis Pershey
  7. Nobody Wants to Read Your S**t—Stephen Pressfield
  8. The Broken Way—Ann Voskamp
  9. Lila—Marilynne Robinson
  10. City of Mirrors—Justin Cronin

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Disclaimer: Kelly's writings represent a combination of his own personal opinions and his professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with him via the blog does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. Kelly does not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accepts no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • JC

    I subscribed about a week ago after googling my way into some of your writing on empathy. I like the whole blog and community that I’ve read so far, thank you. I like to read something that provokes thoughts, and then be allowed to comment. Additionally, I like being able to comment in a place where the majority of commenters are listening, also thinking and conducting conversation as a community rather than looking for a fight.

    Today’s top ten was a great way to perpetuate my blog binge over the last week. I “binged” my way down to one of your favorites entitled “The 71 Most Effective Ways to Avoid Feeling What You’re Feeling” and realized that the entire list was how I live, day by day…avoiding feeling. I’m curious to know if you intend to put out a new list of how to “Feel What You’re Feeling” in the near future? I am quite masterful at avoiding and as part of the new year like your Kindness challenge for this year, I am picking a word for me for 2017…”Feel”. I want to feel more. My whole life I’ve been accused of being too sensitive and I’d like to push back on that perceived weakness (as mentioned in your blog on sexism) and truly feel this next year. I want to “make it beautifuler” by really following my heart. I don’t want to be a crybaby or an emotional wreck every day, but I do want to feel empathy, feel joy, feel the loneliness, and just really feel what’s in my heart and honestly face the worst and best of it with vigor. I’m hoping to find a greater sense of satisfaction and gratitude about what I have, and perhaps clarify a path for myself to follow towards an increase in blessings that are waiting for me if I just take that path.

    • JC, welcome to UnTangled! You’ll find you typically hear back from me if you comment on the day of a new post. I try to respond to all comments by Wednesday afternoon. I’m glad you could do a healthy new year binge. 🙂 I think you’ll find this community constructive and supportive. Great people.

  • Marie

    I love your book list! Can I suggest “A Man Called Ove” as a wonderful fictional addition to your list? Best book I read last year…and I read a lot! (At least a book per week…)

    • I started reading it last week on vacation, Marie! I’m only a little ways through it but enjoying it immensely. 🙂

  • Cris M

    I admit that there are a lot of people in the world, but that doesn´t “amaze me less” when I find that people are moved by the same things I sometimes are moved by. 2 of your posts (the one about courage, and the open letter from the therapist) are 2 of those who touched me this year particularly. Change, discovery, vulnerability, put things out in words, are words that are close to me. As for the books, Anam Cara is “my wisdom book”; the book I consult often “to learn how to see”, I have been reading it since 2013 though over and over again, and each time I find a deeper meaning for the same sentences. I also read “upstream” this year 🙂 , and a couple others that at times, also touched me deeply. My discovery of the year has been though the podcasts from “on being”, and also your blog. I enjoy this idea of connection that comes so unexpectedly, and ends being so fulfilling… Thank you for being such a kind and wise fellow pilgrim since our ways have joined. Now, looking forward to reading your book, as it comes available. Many blessings for your journey. Hugs Cris

    • Cris, over my vacation, I started reading “Consolations,” by David Whyte. He was a friend of John O’Donohue and has been on the On Being podcast. It’s a beautiful book!

  • Sarah

    We integrated number 7 into our wedding vows. The post makes us tear up every time we read it. My spouse and I always refer to being each other’s witness in life now. It really resonates with us, thank you for such beautiful words.

    • Wow, Sarah, I’m glad those words have come to mean so much to you. I’m honored. And congratulations! All the best to both of you!

  • I’ve used several of these as my “post of the week” when I send our my own blog newsletter. Great stuff.