Last Call: the art of being thankful

Last Call
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Let’s face it; 2011 has not been the most stellar year on record for most of us.

As a I write this column, it has become official that the “super committee” can’t agree on how to reduce the American household deficit, Europe has the financial markets on the edge, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement has spread around the country, the NBA season is on hold, your neighbor’s house is in foreclosure and you have not had a raise in three years. The list could be expanded endlessly…

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So how can we find the strength to get into the “holiday spirit” in a world that seems upside down; where many families are struggling economically to make ends meet or face other bitter news like the loss of a loved one?

I don’t pretend to have all-encompassing answers. I can only share in this column what has worked for me personally. So here are 12 steps that will help you to get into the Holiday spirit, but they will only work if you actually find time to practice them. One suggestion would be to only focus on one point for each day over 12 consecutive days:

1. Let it out. It’s OK to be sad or angry, and having the blues can be liberating, as long as you accept this as a short-term form of getting over what ails you and don’t dwell on the negative.

2. Stop worrying. Worrying is natural but it is not a good use of our energy. If you continuously paint worst-case scenarios in your head, you will drain your batteries. Instead, focus on being strong and take small measures every day to make good things happen.

3. Reach out for help. You could be surprised how much sharing can help start the renewal process, and the holidays are good time for that.

4. Put things in perspective. Often our own cause for being grim or sad might look small compared with other people’s fate.

5. Accept that the world is not just. No matter how you look at it, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes fate is not in your favor. So what can you do to change the odds? Stay positive and be open to accepting good things. Eventually they will happen. As Louis Pasteur said: Fortune favors the prepared mind.

6. Death is inevitable. Start with the premise that life is a struggle from the moment we are born. This might sound harsh, but if we start looking at life from this vantage point, every minute we live, every meal we eat and every moment we share with loved ones becomes a gain.

7. Let go. Holding on to the past is rarely a good start to make things better. It might not be easy to accept your situation but unless you are able to let go you will make it harder to find new joy.

8. Focus on what you can change and not what you can’t. This seems cliché, but I continue to be amazed on how much energy people waste on complaining about things they have no influence over.

10. Find a positive focal point and continue to aim at it. This is especially important. Try to find something that has a positive notion or a perspective for success. It is a quintessential tool to survive and thrive and, as difficult as it might be at times, you will feel much better if you balance your mind by allowing for positive thoughts.

11. Be selfish. I don’t mean that you should have a “me, me, me” attitude, but take a moment to breathe out, find space in your life to reconnect with your inner soul, and take care of your body. If you are strong within, you will be able to find positive things around you. How about making Dec. 9 “a personal day?” A day where you step out of your daily routine.

12. Be selfless. Stop expecting so much from others and the world. Start being happy with what life offers you now.

13. Give. Giving comes in many forms and they are not always material; sometimes it is as simple as saying thank you. Sometimes the biggest gift is spending time with a loved one or with a stranger. Don’t do it because you feel it helps the other person; do it because when you go home it will make you feel better inside.

Write me to share your success stories and thank you for reading Monthly.

Have a wonderful holiday and believe that together we
can make 2012 a
new start.