First Things First

Make the New Year Great

The past year was an unsettling one for many of us. So, it’s no surprise that many people are relieved and grateful that another year is finally over. Knowing the page has been turned and new opportunities await gives us all hope for a brighter new year.

No matter what happened over the past 12 months, keeping things in perspective in the midst of difficult circumstances can help us see beyond ourselves to the bigger picture.

The good news is, as we enter into 2017, we can all write a new chapter. Instead of focusing on the “what ifs,” consider focusing your time and energy on what could be. Avoiding the distraction of what could have been allows us to see the potential.  Just think of all the positive things happening and the daily opportunities to make a difference.

Whether we’re dealing with illness, job loss, challenges with children, a difficult marriage or money issues, we rarely say we are enjoying life during our struggles. Looking back, however, while we wouldn’t want to experience it again, we often realize we wouldn’t trade what we learned along the way. Life’s most challenging events often stretch us and teach us the most.

When life is complicated, it’s very tempting to wish away today by thinking about tomorrow. In his book, The Precious Present, Dr. Spencer Johnson says the “precious present” can be maddeningly elusive and gloriously attainable. Johnson contends that learning to live in the present is a process.

For example, “I can choose to be happy now or I can try to be happy when… or if…” the book states. Johnson encourages readers to savor every moment in life as perfect, apparently good or apparently bad, but certainly as a gift.

While encouraging a mother in the midst of a hard time with her children, a wise man shared some phrases for her to use frequently. He said that using the following five phrases as often as possible could make a powerful difference in her relationships.

As we walk the road of life, using these phrases can let others know how much we care.  It can also force us to think about the impact we are having on their lives with our words.

If you’re looking for deeper personal fulfillment and happiness this year, by all means, try to enjoy each day and don’t take time for granted. There really is great potential in the coming months. Although we can’t predict the future, we can make the new year better for ourselves, our friends and our family if we can keep a little perspective and respond thoughtfully to the best and worst of times.

Happy new year to you.

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