Activities to Brighten Your New Year

By: Other | January 18, 2016

Written by Jennifer Wendt, Ph.D.

A new year brings a sense of refreshment. A fresh time of hope, reflection and opportunities for change. There seems to be a general consensus that 2015 was a more difficult year for many people. Our World has been exposed to great tragedies, locally and globally. Many have experienced personal heartache, loss, stress and illness. As we enter 2016 we yearn for happy experiences, relationships, connections, possible changes and a sense that our life and our world can be a positive experience.

As we know, life is full of ups and downs. The variation of positive versus more challenging things we experience provides us the opportunity for a richer experience of both the highs and lows and creates balance within our lives. After we journey through difficult times we come to greater appreciate our positive experiences. When we reflect back on a year we tend to remember various significant events depending on our personality and current mood. Some of us tend to reflect on the happy memories and positive experiences. Some will quickly recall the struggles and the more trying times. Others will remember a balance of the highlights.

Standing on the horizon of a new year and feeling the opportunity for fresh new experiences, we can plan simple activities that support goals of happiness, connection and positive activities. As a disclaimer: I cannot personally take credit nor accurately cite the original idea for these activities as they are a collection of my favorite ideas I have come across throughout the years via stories from others, social media, etc.

1. Create a Jar to Collect Happy Memories:

As you have positive experiences throughout the year, jot them down on a piece of paper and place them in a designated container. You can decorate a box or a jar to place your notes in. You may want to jot down happy memories, kind gestures, accomplishments, goals met, connections made, anything you want to remember as a positive experience. At the end of the year, read through your year of positive experiences. This idea can be expanded to capture experiences for the whole family, academic successes and work successes.

2. Write a Letter to Someone You Care About:

Select someone each month to write a letter to. Take the time to express your gratitude, admiration, inspiration and whatever positive feelings you can share about them. We often don’t take the time to tell someone how much we appreciate the way they have positively affected our life.

3. Begin a Box of Inspiration:

Create a box of things that inspire you (similar to the happy memory jar above). While we often have moments of inspiration which may be fleeting, you can take an active role in harnessing that inspiration. You may find yourself filling your box with quotes, book titles, photos, notes from a meeting, etc. It can become a vessel for a dream or a place you can dig into when you are feeling low on inspiration.

4. An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions:

Very few people make resolutions that they successfully attain. If you are one of those people, consider an alternative. First review your previous year and create a list of your accomplishments and happy memories. Second, create a wish list for the New Year. It can be a mixture of realistic wishes and more advanced wishes. It can include a variety of wishes from functional projects to desired experiences. You may wish to read a new book, clean out that high cabinet in the hall and take a day trip to a new city. You will help yourself attain some of these wishes if you keep most of them realistic and prioritize. At the end of the year you can review the list and see which wishes you granted yourself and which you will continue to aspire to attain.

These activities of joy, wishes and inspiration are designed to help you hold on to the freedom of opportunity we experience at the dawn of a new year. The reality of our days filled with highs and lows will quickly set in, yet we can hold onto our aspirations and positive experiences with these activities that act as reminders planted in our lives.

As you enter the New Year, here is wishing you a Happy New Year filled with activities you enjoy, meaningful connections and richness in your experiences.

Image: Jamie McCaffrey on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

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