New Year perspective: Is your glass half full or half empty?

Tessa Hobbs-Curley University of Illinois Extension Services

As a new year is upon us, sometimes we say that we hope the new year is better than the last.  As the saying goes, are you looking at your glass half full or half empty?  

 Our outlook may be grim, or it could be positive. If your tendency is to find the less optimistic view, then you might want to explore ways to add a little happiness or attain some strategies to find an optimistic future. 

A new year is often a time to reflect upon the past and prepare for the new year.  Nobody is asking us to minimize the trials of what COVID-19 has brought to us, the health scares that individuals encounter, or grief of losing loved ones or employment.  

We tend to make wishes that include more money, a better job, better health, etc.  Sonja Lyubomirsky,  professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, who studies happiness outlines 12 activities with strategies of maintaining happiness. 

Here are just a few activities you can try to start your new year with the perspective of your glass half full: 

  • Do more activities that engage you.  Whether you are at home or work, seek experiences that challenge you or help you find your “flow”. 
  • Write three good things each day.  Open your mind and pay close attention to those moments of pleasure or beauty. 
  • Let go of resentment. Learn to forgive and don’t carry the weight of anger and frustration which consumes your positive outlook. 
  • Practice acts of kindness. Whether you are intentional or spontaneous do something good for another. 
  • Cultivate relationships. Call, email, or text a message to those you see often or want to maintain connections.  Simple gestures of letting someone know that you are thinking of them goes a long way. 
  • Take care of yourself. Eating healthy, exercising, practicing relaxation, and doing activities that make you happy, rejuvenates the mind. 
  • Don’t dwell on problems or compare yourself to others. 
  • Express gratitude and/or appreciation to people or just be aware of your blessings. See more on keeping a gratitude journal. 
  • Strengthen your spiritual connection. It’s the sense of connecting to something bigger than ourselves. It truly is beyond what we can hear, touch, or see.  
  • Set goals that you can measure.  When setting goals, it is important to have a person or buddy that can hold you accountable. Remember to write down the goals and place it somewhere that you can look at it daily. 

We are more creative, productive, energetic and intelligent when we are positive and happy!! In fact, research shows that more happiness and positivity cause us to be three times more creative, 23 percent less fatigued and 31% more productive.  

So, this new year why don’t you give yourself the gift of positivity and see the glass half full and not (half) empty. 

Tessa Hobbs-Curley is a Family Life Extension educator