Resetting the Optimism Button for 2017

Time for the Year in Review. This is the week in which every columnist reviews the past year from their perspective, be it sports, TV shows, movies, celebrity lives and deaths, or … dare I say it, politics. There are lots of articles talking about how bad 2016 was and whether it will get better or worse in 2017. I admit to falling into the category that considers 2016 to have been a bad year, perhaps the worst since I was born nearly 71 years ago. Why, because the political direction of the countries making decisions that affect the entire world appear to have lost even a glimmer of kindness, even a veneer of compassion, even a shred of civility. Bullying seems to have won the day. If the most influential world leaders are to make decisions based solely on self-interest and not at all on values and not at all on inclusion, then what hope can there be for making things better … together … for everyone? All these years I thought that’s where we were headed, even if it takes a very long time and there are some stumbles and steps backwards from time to time. Now I’m not so sure. Not sure at all.

OK, I’ve got that off my chest. Now to consider how those of us who feel this way – and I appreciate that not everyone does – can find a way to put a positive spin on 2017. First of all, we can all think of positive things to remember from this strange, strange year, and hang on to them tightly. Keep reminding yourself of them. My own top items are:

  1. Brand new grandson born on Christmas Eve (!!)
  2. Fabulous week in Cancun with grandchildren and their parents
  3. Fascinating trip to Vietnam and Cambodia
  4. Retired – again – at the end of June. This time for good!

Secondly, we can all do what several people I know are already working on, some with more success than others:nonews

  1. Stop compulsively reading the news online; at least aim for moderation
  2. Stop compulsively watching the news on TV
  3. Stop incessantly talking about the bad news with friends.

I’m not saying that any of these extreme actions are easy, but they are important to practice. Eventually it will (at least may) get easier. 🙂

Thirdly, we all need to consider what we can do in 2017 that will make us happy, both about ourselves and about the world in which we live. For me, I have to stop spending so much time despairing about things over which I have no control. I can’t singlehandedly ensure the survival of the UN or bring peace to the Middle East, but I can find ways to help ensure that I live in a community that continues to value kindness and inclusion. I can strongly support enlightened leadership wherever I find it. I can walk the talk.  I can be there for family members, friends, and colleagues. I can celebrate the accomplishments of all those people with whom I’ve had the privilege to interact. And I can get up off my butt and exercise more often, so that I can celebrate my outstanding fitness level! 😉 See, there’s no end of ways in which we can combat despair, one step at a time.

And, finally, to help prevent finding ourselves feeling this despondent next New Year’s Eve, I love this idea for a Good News Jar that has been circulating on Facebook. I’m going to make myself one tomorrow so I’ll be ready for all the good things that are going to happen on January 1, 2017.


Happy New Year, everyone. May 2017 surprise us all in lots of good ways.



P.S. – 2017 jar all ready for good news!

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9 Responses to Resetting the Optimism Button for 2017

  1. Pingback: Help, I forgot to ac-cen-tu-ate the positive! | Robby Robin's Journey

  2. jennypellett says:

    I can’t keep away from the news – it’s in my DNA – but I’ll try to moderate in the new year. I like the idea of a new year’s jar. I think we’ll start one here. Happy New Year, Jane 🍾🥂🍾🥂🍾

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know, I haven’t made any headway on curbing my compulsiveness since I wrote that down, although today is the first day I really have to try according to the rules I made for myself! I did make my jar, which included me having to consume a larger than usual quantity of expensive mixed nuts in order to clear out the jar! Such sacrifice. 🙂 Happy New Year to you, too, Jenny.

  3. ALESIA WEISS says:

    Turning the TV off had been strange , but so far I have been surviving! This had been a rough year, but no doubt – I plan on making each of my days of 2017 full of grace and understanding and hopefully beating my body back into better shape!! Haha

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You’ll be my role model for this year, Alesia. Actually, we’re not doing badly with the TV. We’ve watched an extraordinary amount of sports and nature shows since deciding that we couldn’t bear to listen to any more news. It turns out that there are sports I had never even heard of before! Now if only I could overcome my compulsion to check the news online, hoping against hope that I’ll find one article to reassure me that sanity can prevail. Happy New Year, Alesia.

  4. Elaine Mayer says:

    Thanks for your insightful reflections and your ability to find optimism for the future. Love your thoughts on what we CAN do in the coming year. Here’s to 2017!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Sigh. We have to remain vigilant and make sure we don’t despair so much that the democratic process can’t turn things around. I suppose this has always been the case; perhaps we’ve taken too much for granted for too long, I don’t know. This year will be “interesting”, if nothing else! Happy New Year, Layne. Looking forward to seeing you and Steve later this year, right?!!!

  5. DM says:

    That is a great idea! (the New Years Eve jar) Had not heard of one before..think I’m going to do it. I’m already pretty good on the “don’t watch/ or read/ too much of the news…it really does help to keep from getting sucked into a perpetual funk. I started it, a few years ago, after something had happened in the Middle East and I just could no longer stay “current” with what was going to happen/ not happen next. That feeling of powerlessness can be so vexing if you can’t find ways to stand against whatever it is that is happening.

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