Looking on the sunny side of life
After the gatherings, glitz and goodwill that make up the holiday season, it’s easy to feel a let down when it concludes.
Add to that the trepidation that comes with facing the unknowns of the new year, and it leaves me feeling disconcerted or, as my dad used to say, discombobulated.
Fortunately, I have learned to say “no” to my fearful, negative feelings and, instead, look at the positive flip side of things. Cultivating the art of affirming self-talk and working to change a pessimistic outlook has taken me many years, but it’s definitely been worth the effort and reaped benefits for me and, I think, for my family, friends and anyone else with whom I come in contact.
Just as being negative brings people down, being positive lifts them up. Looking on the bright side is tied to outlook, something over which we have control. For example, I’ve discovered that to avoid the post-Christmas let-down, I focus on Dec. 25 as the beginning of the Christmas season. In the Catholic tradition to which I belong, the 12 days of Christmas begin on Jesus’ birthday and end Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.
My faith also reminds me that the arrival of Jesus and the gifts he brought with him means that for believers, Christmas isn’t just something we celebrate during a single season, but all year. One way we see it is in the faith, hope and love of his people. Yes, we all fail, sometimes miserably, in the delivery of those virtues, but there also are successes, too --- think the neighbor who snowblows the sidewalk or the stranger who pulls your stuck car out of a snowdrift -- and that’s reason to celebrate 365 days of the year..
Meanwhile, instead of feeling let down when the frenzy of the holidays ends, I strive to view it as a quiet time to reflect on the blessings of the past year. At the same time, I look forward to what is in store in the future.
Instead of worrying about what misfortunes may befall me in the coming year, I work to have the perspective of the new year being full of promise. And rather than fretting over things that possibly could happen and over which I definitely don’t have control, I turn it around and think about the ways I can make life better for me and those around me. That might include taking dinner to a friend who is sidelined with health problems, keeping my tongue silent instead of complaining about someone or something or, even, writing a feature story about an ordinary person doing out-of-the-ordinary things.
There are a lot of worry genes in my family history, and I’ve inherited my share of them so changing my negative attitude has been challenging. It’s a challenge I work to embrace because not only does it help me lead a happier life, it shows my children that they have control over their outlooks on life. They know that if I can look at the world through a positive lens, they can, too.
As I enjoy the last few days of this year, I look forward with eager anticipation to the new year. Bring on 2020.