Melissa Schmalenberger, Published December 30 2012
Ms. Simplicity: Fill yourself up with good news
I want more “Pollyanna’s” in my life and less “Debbie Downers”. But the only way to do that is to make sure that you yourself are focused on the positive. So, if you want a New Year’s Resolution that should be easy to keep, challenge yourself to focus on a happier 2013. Here are some easy ideas to get you on your way:
• The gratitude jar: Keep a large jar, basket or container in a common place in the house. When someone does something nice for you or you notice a member of your family going above and beyond, grab a scrap of paper and write it down. If you want, put a date on it. At the end of 2013 have a family party and gather the family around and read what everyone wrote down.
• Write a letter to yourself: Imagine yourself in a happier place after making some changes throughout the year. Be realistic with the changes. How will your life be different at the end of 2013? Write the letter in positive terms, such as “I am so happy and grateful now that I am living a more healthy lifestyle.”
• Write a letter to friends and family members: I do this throughout the year. I will randomly sit down and write my husband or children a handwritten note. I did this at Christmas this year as part of our talent show – my talent was writing. It was fun to watch everyone read their letter. My 13-year-old had me read his as he doesn’t know how to read “wavy” writing. I did this same thing with a group of my friends. It felt good to look back and reflect on what I am grateful for with our friendship.
• Post only positive things to Facebook: Facebook has become our very public soap box for our private lives. Nobody wants to read that you have another migraine week after week or your kids are crazy. When we post things like that we are simply looking for pity, and that is not a fun place to live. Start to look at the glass as half full, not half empty. Yes, sad and bad things happen in life and should be shared. I am not saying be someone you are not, but just try focusing on the positive and see what happens in your life.
• Do random acts of kindness: Share the random acts with your friends and family and make it a group effort. Sometimes the random acts are more powerful if you don’t share it with the world, but keep them private. I think of the person who drops that gold coin in the Salvation Army bucket every year. That person is doing it to share love, not to receive accolades.
• Speak your gratitude: When someone gives you great service, tell them. I had great service at Starbucks on 32nd Avenue in Fargo one day. I was having a really rotten day. The barista who gave me my tea was so pleasant and friendly I left in a better mood. The next time I was in, I told her how much she improved my mood that day. It is my hope that her day was then improved because of my gratitude.
• Speak compliments: If you see a friend and you think that they look really good or look great in a certain outfit, speak it, don’t just think it. If you keep the thoughts to yourself that isn’t doing much good. But if you speak it, you could change someone’s entire day.
• Share your gratitude: If something random and wonderful happens to you, share it. My son found a ring in a parking lot at school last year with some friends. They turned the ring in and the woman whose ring it was wrote the paper and they published her thank you. I never even knew that my son found the ring until a friend of his posted the article on Facebook and tagged him in it. I appreciate the fact that the woman took the extra effort and wrote a public thank you.
• Focus on the positive: I love when my children get handwritten notes from their teachers or we as parents get emails or notes telling us what a good job our kids are doing. There is no gauge as parents to know if you are doing a good job. Sometimes all you have are those school conferences twice a year. Having a note from a teacher means so much, thank you teachers!
• Have a Good News Board: We have a very public place in our house where we put the good news. When my boys would get a perfect score on a test in a subject they were struggling with, on the board it goes. What I love is that my boys now do it on their own. My middle son will even ask me if I noticed anything new on the board.
• Have a “Rock Star” plate: Buy or create a special plate that when someone in your family has something great in their lives happen, they get to eat dinner on that plate.
• Send someone a “Just Because” gift: I did this with some of my closest friends this year. I had found the perfect gift to share with my girlfriends and right before Christmas I mailed it to them with a handwritten note telling them how much I love having them in my lives. This does not need to be a physical gift, it could even be a “just because” note. Who doesn’t love to know that they are appreciated and loved?
So who is with me on creating a happier 2013? It is within our power to see the good in ourselves and the good in other people. What would happen if we as a society started making a bigger deal out the great that people do in the world? Just remember, the change can begin with you!
Melissa Schmalenberger is a professional organizer. She blogs at mssimplicity.areavoices.com.