We’re not only in the first month of the year, but first month of the decade; and of course, the first month of the rest of our lives. The month of January always conjures both comforting and distressing thoughts and emotions in everyone. Comforting because it offers us a fresh start—a chance for new beginnings, like everything has been wiped clean and we’re starting afresh; like we’re now on our ‘take 30’ in a scene of our life’s film, and what really matters is that we shoot the last take well. All the bloopers in the previous takes won’t matter.
The game of life is an infinite game—not finite like a basketball or soccer game—and so long as we don’t give up on our goals, dreams and vision, we’ll likely end the game triumphant, with God’s grace.
January could be distressing, too. As soon as the revelry and carousing of new year’s eve ends past midnight, we can’t help but pause and ask ourselves, “What now?” We ticked another year off our lifetime, and feel sorry for all the things we’ve resolved to achieve in the past year, but never went past writing the new year’s resolution part.
It all boils down to a mindset issue, and we just need to make sure we have the right mindset to whisk us through all the challenges of the coming year. The mindset is really complex, but it all starts with our thoughts.
Every time a new year comes, I’m reminded of the words our mother used to tell us when we were children. “Happy thoughts, big dreams for the new year,” she would say. These words have somehow created an indelible imprint in my mind and I would frequently catch myself saying the same words many times, just mumbling them to myself, as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve.
Just as our physical health depends to a great extent on what we eat and drink, our mental and emotional health depends mainly on the thoughts we feed our minds. Science may still be inadequate to explain it in clear terms, but the connection between our thoughts and what happens in our lives is logical and rational.
If we constantly think of negative thoughts like fear, anger, resentment, revenge, despair, envy, pride, arrogance, jealousy and greed, the outcome in our lives would also be negative and could result in illness and poor health, failure and all sorts of bad luck.
If we constantly feed our minds with “happy thoughts”— positive ones like love, gratitude, compassion, humility, generosity, hope and desire to know what our spiritual purpose in life is, we can reap the benefits in terms of good health, happiness, peace of mind, success in our career and personal lives, and all forms of abundance from God’s bounty.
Many of us don’t realize it but we’re frequently talking to ourselves through our thoughts; and this self-talk can either be positive or negative, healthy or unhealthy. If we’ve been giving ourselves a lot of negative self-talk over the years, it’s never too late to change it and the coming year would be an opportune time to do it. In fact, this very moment is the best time to make that resolve to reduce, if not totally eliminate, all the negative self-talk we’re doing.
Reducing negative self-talk can go a long way in reducing our stress level, more than any potent tranquilizer or sedative.
I believe many authors who theorize that whatever circumstance in life we have right now is the result of the thoughts we’ve been nurturing in the past. So if we’re happy with our lives right now, that means we’ve been feeding ourselves with a lot of positive thoughts, and we should continue doing it. On the other hand, if we’re not happy with our present lives, and we wish we could be healthier, sleep better at night, have better relationships, and enjoy a little more abundance in life, then it can serve us well to change our thoughts.
May we all be blessed with a more positive mindset at the start of this new decade and the rest of our life—a mindset that makes us optimistic, not pessimistic; a mindset that makes us confident, not diffident; a mindset that enables, not forbids; a mindset that empowers, not weakens or demoralizes.
RAFAEL R. CASTILLO, MD