I found it difficult to come up with a topic for my 2021 New Year’s post. Sometimes it seems like we are living in a different world, one we never would have imagined. Sometimes it seems like the world changes faster than we can keep up with it.
Focus on the Positive
There is one thing, however, I know for sure: people are more successful at dealing with things if we don’t spend too much time and energy repeatedly thinking, talking and writing about what we don’t like in this newish world. It is wise and right to keep up with what’s going on. Decide what, if anything, you would like to do about it. Do it. Then focus on the desired end result instead. Visualize that.
Where Does Luck Fit In?
It seems as if optimistic people are lucky, or maybe the reason they’re optimistic is because they’re lucky. But what really happens is that, when we expect good things, we are more likely to notice ways to make them happen.
Some time ago, I recounted an experiment in which people were told to walk along a certain route and go into a coffee shop. Some money had been placed in their path, and there were prospective business contacts stationed in the shop. People who described themselves as optimists noticed the money. Self-described pessimists walked right past it. Optimists struck up conversations with the business prospects. Pessimists did not.
According to Jack Canfield, If you are anti-a-particular politician, be pro-his opponent. Often elections are tipped in favor of the person that the people are really against, because he’s getting all the energy and all the focus.” James Ray states, “Maybe you have to be informed, but you don’t have to be inundated.”
Of course we need to express worries or disappointments to a few people. But when we repeat them over and over, we distract ourselves from noticing good things, like money on the sidewalk or good networking in a coffee shop. We forget to focus on the virtues of our preferred candidate. Also, we inject too much negativity into the lives of our friends.
Let’s not let our belief in the power of the positive turn into victim blaming. Not every unfortunate thing in a person’s life happened because they were pessimistic. We all experience misfortunes that are not our fault. When that happens, the person deserves our compassion and our help. That includes self compassion.
Sometimes people have a legitimate need to repeat things many times. For example, a friend of mine was working to overcome confusion, self-doubt, and other negative thoughts and feelings that were the natural result of having a narcissistic boyfriend. She recognized that she needed to talk to these over with me many times, she needed to hear the truth many times to undo these toxic thoughts and feelings.
Clinical depression is caused by biochemistry. Those who have it are not to blame. If you think you might have it, there is help available. If you think someone you love has it, blaming them, telling them to “just snap out of it,” won’t help.
These situations are different from those in which a person who enjoys a good life posts meme after meme on social media trashing the politician they oppose.
A Helpful Practice for the New Year
It seems that some people are born optimists, but anyone can improve their optimism, and thus, their life. Try this:
Write down 10 things you’re grateful for from 2021. Top of my list was becoming a great aunt for the first time. Then, write down 10 things you’re looking forward to in 2022. Set up a reminder that you will see before you get started for the day. It could be a sticky note on your alarm clock or on your box of cereal. It could be the list itself on the bedside table with a pencil to check things off. Set a timer and spend 5 minutes contemplating the first thing on your list. I might look at pictures of my niece and recall her reaction to a toy I gave her for her first Christmas, recall her playing with the toy.
Place another reminder in a place you’ll see it before you go to sleep. Contemplate something from your ’22 looking-forward to-list for a few minutes. I might contemplate future publication of my new book, visualize good cover quotes and Amazon reviews.
This will take you 10 days. After that, make new grateful-for and looking-forward-to lists.Things change. Lately, things seem to change rapidly, especially with respect to Covid19. That’s why I suggest you take this practice 10 days at a time. But do stick with it.
Maybe you find that something from one of your looking-forward-to lists won’t work out. Sure, you want to vent to someone, but don’t wallow in it. Turn your attention to something else you can work toward.
My Wish for You
I wish that all of you will look forward to a safe, happy and optimistic New Year.