As we move into 2013 and the 11,875-pound, LED crystal encrusted ball drops over Times Square without Dick Clark’s enigmatic presence, it is time to look back at the past year. 2012 was full of events, both large and small, which changed global culture, local economics, and our general perceptions of the mechanics of daily life.

2012 started off with the sinking of the Costa Concordia of the coast of Italy and the revision of maritime laws to better protect those at sea. This loss of 32 lives was not the first tragedy of the year as United States’ Afghanistan campaign continued, Syria’s civil war became more volatile, which added to the current turmoil in the Middle East, and war re-emerged in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. European politics wreaked havoc with the global economy and the word “Occupy” became paired with numerous city names around the world. Not only was the United States attacked abroad at diplomatic facilities but also at home by both environmental disturbances from coast to coast, and also by our own citizens in theaters, malls, and schools.

Not only did we lose Dick Clark in 2012, but Neil Armstrong, country crooner Andy Williams, Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, and the ever-cool Etta James. We lost young fighters, unique artists, comedians, writers who never grew up, and activists who never backed down.

However, not all of 2012 was full of tragedy, as many triumphs were to be found. With July came the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, bringing 104 medals to the United States. Ironically, Giants swept 2012 sports, with the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series and the New York Giants taking the Super Bowl. While there were many near misses, close-wins, and groundbreaking firsts in athletics, perhaps the most unique feat was that of Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from more than 24 miles above the earth’s surface. Baumgartner shattered the sound barrier while making the highest jump ever, resulting in awe-inspiring photos demonstrating the human spirit’s limitless courage & ability to push boundaries.

Many countries saw new, old, and the same leaders elected with varying responses. The United States witnessed a monumental election year full of missteps, mudslinging, and a variety of other political antics. The end result of this exhausting race produced Barack Obama with his second term as the 44th president of the United States.

The Internet saw many changes in 2012, from Facebook going public, to new regulations and privacy policies through the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA as it became more commonly known). We saw new gadgets (the iPad Mini, a Google phone), new upgrades, and more apps than we could count. Some were innovative, some were wildly successful, and some fell flat (anyone get lost using Apple maps?).

In science we found not only a massive planet with Earth-like conditions but also a planet made of diamonds. Honeybees infected with a zombie-like parasite were discovered in California along with a 10,000-year-old aquifer under the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia. In the summer of 2012 not only did the Large Hadron Collider at CERN confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, but Curiosity landed on Mars, taking spectacular otherworldly photos (which look oddly like New Mexico). An overwhelming amount of research demonstrated that exercise coupled with healthier diets including fruits and vegetables resulted in a better ability to maintain a healthy weight as well reducing the risk of dementia, diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers.

2012 saw a multitude of viral videos, acts of kindness and generosity, and bizarre performances of both actors and artists. Viewers watched great movies and television, more reality characters became “stars”, and at least a handful of people were quoted on things they instantly regretted, which will forever be remember in the form of internet memes. As of March, the world’s population grew to 7 billion, up by one billion in just a short 13 years. Each of these 7 billion people had a cascade of memorable experiences from the past year, both good and bad, which will undoubtedly shape their experiences to come in 2013.

So what to expect in 2013? Our ever-changing health care system should not be surprised to see further changes in policy, especially when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid. More drug studies will (hopefully) result in better conclusions in patient care, as 2012 was woefully short of these. Increasingly affordable forms of technology will continue to flood the market, hopefully along with less buggy software. Yet another flood of reality shows are expected, but some highly anticipated entertainment is on the horizon, both in music and movies. Politics will continue to politic, weather will continue to weather, and economies will continue to rise and fall.

All of these upcoming events come with the hopes of improving our lives and providing meaningful experiences to share with others. But, as with each year during which every person has made resolutions, the only true vehicle for change in 2013 is you, the individual. On top of your yearly resolution to lose weight, spend less, and give more, make some smaller resolutions to have a larger impact on your life based on the events of this past year.

• Look to Felix Baumgartner for the courage to take one small positive step forward every day, whether it be committing to catch up with a loved one once a month or letting go of work anxiety at the end of every week.

• Look to the 2012 Nobel Prize winners for advancements in pharmaceutical testing to increase your productivity and tackle those seemingly impossible projects you have left on your backburner.

• Look to the 2012 presidential election for the perseverance to get through each day despite naysayers.

• Look to the tragedies to focus on solutions and prevention, to take a positive path forward and ensure our history remains in the past.

Lastly, look to the summer Olympics for the energy to stay positive and keep moving, because, as Theodore Roosevelt put it, “Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster.”

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and hearty 2013!