I’ve decided: 2010 is going to be a good year for me. No, I didn’t consult a fortuneteller. Nor did I look into a crystal ball. I don’t have a Ouija board, and I don’t claim to have power to see into the future. I just decided. Oh, I didn’t come to this decision lightly; and I don’t mean to sound like I’ve lost touch with reality. Yes, I read my share of fairy tales as a child that all ended with people living “happily ever after;” but I’ve lived long enough to understand how both the struggles and the joys of life ebb and flow. I thought about it as I packed away Christmas decorations and began to settle back into the routine of everyday life. My mind has been spinning with curiosity about the year ahead. Expectations. Possibilities. Uncertainties. I’ve set some goals and have some ideas of what might come to pass, including the birth of a new grandbaby, a book to write and some trips planned; yet I realize I don’t know what will actually take place as this year unfolds. One thing I do know: I have some options about how I’ll approach the coming days. I can look forward with eager anticipation to a positive year filled with opportunities and blessings. I can dread the challenges and struggles that will cross my path. Or I can let my mind race with anxious thoughts about the unknown. Now, anxiety and dread are two emotions I don’t wear well; so, I think I’ll choose optimism. I suppose if I’m going to maintain this perspective I need to start when I wake up each morning and prepare to approach the day. First impressions are powerful, often prompting us to form assumptions about what will follow. They weave their way into our minds so quickly, setting a tone for how we interpret what comes next. It’s as if we put on a pair of tinted glasses. Everything we look at through the glasses seems to have that tint. ‘Tried on any sunglasses lately? There are some out there that create a view pleasing to our eyes, while others are so heavily tinted and dark, even distorted, they skew our perspective. I want this to be a good year, so I need to pay attention to the thoughts I entertain each morning that will form a first impression of the day. I want to choose glasses that will help me focus on the positive things taking place around me. I know there will be challenges, trials, and disappointments along the journey. As much as I’d like to avoid them, they will be there in view. Rather than run from them or be consumed by them, I will need to face them, work through them, and look for lessons to be learned. I just want to be sure that along the way, I don’t miss the joys and blessings that are there as well. The power of positive thinking: not just a catchy, well-worn phrase. It’s a testimony shared by many as they recount experiences of successfully working through struggles. It’s a powerful teaching tool of coaches preparing athletes for competition. It’s a conclusion drawn by healthcare professionals as they witness healing in the lives of patients. It’s a challenge before each of us as we approach a new day. If you have ever visited my office you may have noticed a print by Norman Rockwell who is well known for creating vivid portraits of American society. This particular drawing depicts people traveling along a sidewalk in front of a church: heads down, shoulders stooped, mouths closed in silence, each one focused intently on shuffling in solitude from one place to another. Unaware that along that same path are birds soaring, trees budding, flowers in bloom, blue sky, the warm glow of the sun, and a plea on the church’s message board: “Lift up thine eyes.” As we move through this New Year, let’s pay attention to the way we greet each day we are blessed to have and then watch where we’re walking, with the eyes of our minds and hearts wide open to all that is along the journey. Heads up, everyone! Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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