2020 has been a year full of extraordinary challenges. One thing it has taught us is that we can’t control everything. We will be put into situations that we have no control over. What we can control however is how we react to those challenges. That brings us to the ONE thing we can do to make 2021 better. Focus on the positive. I know, this is a lot easier said than done, especially when we’re living through a pandemic. I know we’ve also heard this a million times and dismissed this as common sense. But training your brain to search for the positive can dramatically change your life. We don’t know what 2021 will bring but we can set ourselves up for a more fulfilling year by training our thoughts to work for us instead of against us. Here a couple ways to start focusing on the positive:

  1. Talk about the good things in your life. Next time you chat with a friend or family member or even a stranger at the grocery store, challenge yourself to talk about the good things. So often we get in this habit of constantly complaining. We complain about the grey Seattle weather, not getting enough sleep, work stress, family drama, the state of the world, etc. Why not embrace the good things in your life?? Talk about that beautiful sunset, or the cute puppy you saw, or the new recipe you found. Sharing the good things in your life will not only make you happier but may inspire others to do the same.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal. Start or end each day by writing 5 things you’re thankful for. This will help you to start training your brain to seek out all the blessings in your life. If journaling each day seems like too big of a commitment then on the days that you’re feeling extra negative, take 10 minutes to write out everything you’re thankful for. Use this as a way to get out of that negative funk.
  3. Use affirmations. Affirmations are a great way to change our thoughts. Remember, we can’t control everything, but we can learn to control our thoughts. Pick an affirmation to focus on each day, week or even month to really drill it in your head. Some examples are:

            Today I will not stress over things I can’t control.

            I am healthy and filled with energy.

            Today will be a good day! I’m happy and strong.

            My thoughts don’t control me. I can control my thoughts today.

            I am thankful.

            I can create a life I love one step at a time.

            My possibilities are endless.

  1. Allow yourself to feel your feelings. It’s important to recognize that we can’t ignore our feelings. It’s not healthy to face a tragedy and pretend everything is okay when it’s not. 2021 is going to have disappointments, we are going to face challenges, and that’s okay. When these struggles come, allow yourself to be sad or angry or disappointed. Feel whatever you need to feel and then decide how you’re going to make the most of that situation. Viktor Frankl (a survivor of the concentration camps of WWII) wrote, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing—your freedom to choose how you respond to a situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you.” How can you grow from what you’re going through? What is the silver lining in this experience? Maybe you won’t see it right away but keep looking. Eventually you will find the bright spot.

I’ll leave you with one last thought: Let’s say you dropped a vase and it shattered into pieces. Are you going to throw the pieces away and count it as a total loss? Or are you going to take those broken pieces and make it into something new and beautiful like a mosaic? You have the power to turn every struggle you face into something beautiful. Let’s shift our thoughts in 2021 and choose to focus on the things that make us feel alive.