By Deborah Gantos

January is the month when many people write New Year’s resolutions, decide to lose weight or set new goals. I would like to suggest a new approach: heal, make amends and move forward. This editorial will be concentrating on those three concepts.

The first concept is heal. The aftermath of the presidential election still seems to be lingering in the news. After all the vitriol and polarizing diatribes that were flung at those “bad people,” because “they” do not think the way we do, it is time to lay all that negativity and rage to rest. I pose a question to you: How do you feel when you are in conflict or experiencing a tense relationship? Most people would answer: depressed, agitated, unhappy and so on. So take advantage of the beginning of a new year and decide to heal. Make a conscious effort to literally or physically list all that anger and burn it up. The result will be a feeling of relief and release, like a huge weight that is lifted from your shoulders.

The second concept is make amends. We are human. We hurt people’s feelings. We have disagreements. Make the phone call, or if you cannot bring yourself to speak in person, write them a letter and make sure you have someone who is neutral read it before you send it. The reason writing or emailing is less effective is because people can misinterpret your words and do not have the benefit of direct, person-to-person communication. Therefore, I recommend talking directly to the person who elicits that animosity or conflict within you. The result will be some form of healing. Even if you still cannot be close to that person, you will feel better because you addressed it with good intentions and then you can begin to move forward, which brings us to the third concept.

Move forward. If we do not move forward, we stagnate and wither in our misery or discontent. Once you have made an effort to heal and make amends, you start with a clean, blank slate. All or many of those negative, debilitating thoughts are now put to rest. You can take breaths of fresh, clean air to begin again to follow your dreams and joy. Many people who are older often think it is too late to change, and say, “I always do it that way.” You do not have to think this way. Move forward. What are some of the things that give you joy? Have you stopped doing them because you are too old, too tired, too depressed to do them? It is a vicious circle of sadness because by not doing anything, the inertia will make you feel even more depressed. Some of you may have been raised to “do your work or chore first, then have fun.” Guess what: there are so many things we “should” do that we never get to do enjoyable activities. Choose one small thing and do it. Do you like photography, music, doing crosswords, playing golf? Do it! After you do it, talk to someone you love and share the experience. By putting it in actual words and “declaring” it out loud, you give it meaning and it becomes implanted in your brain. That positive reinforcement will encourage you to keep doing things that make you happy.

A new year, a new month is here. Stop what you are doing (after you finish reading this!) and take a step towards experiencing a season that makes you feel fulfilled and joyful. Take just a few minutes each day to put into action those three things: heal, make amends and move forward. Just give it a try. You may surprise yourself and become someone people like to be around by letting go of dysfunctional thoughts and being a happier person in this new year.

Deborah Gantos is the Editor-In-Chief of Surplus Today.