Yet we can take heart. For as we dig through the past 12 months of failures and regrets, we can also sift out valuable lessons and opportunities for 2012: We can learn from our mistakes.
Fortunately, 2011 has given us the greatest opportunity to benefit from adversity since the great flood. Of course, if we are going to last long enough to benefit, it might pay to have an ark handy.
Here are some of the low points of 2011, along with the learning opportunities they provide for 2012.
2011 adversity: A 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia was felt in Philadelphia, and we reacted as if the city were about to slide into the Schuylkill.
2012 possibility: Mother Nature has given us a clear warning to prepare for the worst. Get the children off the streets and dam up the Delaware: The next big Philly quake might actually knock something off a shelf.
2011 adversity: Donald Trump, hypothetical presidential candidate, metaphysical birthplace investigator, supposed Republican kingmaker, theoretical debate moderator, and conjectural hair physicist.
2012 possibility: American scientists discover a means of converting narcissism into energy.
2011 adversity: Congress determined that pizza is a vegetable.
2012 possibility: Congress declares that cheesesteaks are also a vegetable, yielding an inexhaustible cash crop for Philadelphia.
2011 adversity: Charlie Sheen emerged from an apparently less-than-successful stint in rehab and then deemed being dumped from his hugely successful television show "winning."2012 possibility:
Countless children are scared away from drugs for good.
2011 adversity: A "supercommittee" of 12 members of Congress spends months trying to reduce the federal deficit and comes up with nothing.
2012 possibility: To ensure it accomplishes something, the next supercommittee is staffed by superheroes - preferably registered as independents.
2011 adversity: The Kardashians make a mockery of both marriage and entertainment.
2012 possibility: The networks and nation get a long-overdue divorce from the talentless clan, and it lasts far longer than the infamous marriage.
Steve Young is the author of "Great
Failures of the Extremely Successful" (www.greatfailure.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.