Out With The Old, In With The New Year

by Mary Russell, M.S.

It’s been a rough year and I doubt I am the only one eagerly awaiting the arrival of the New Year. Recently, I’ve found myself thinking things like, “Good riddance to 2012! 2013 will be a better year. Everything will finally be ok and everyone will be happy!” It’s a nice thought – that with the ushering in of a new year, our circumstances and feelings will instantly improve!

Indeed, thoughts like this can be helpful. For many they provide hope for the future and motivate us to take the necessary steps to improve our lives. For others, these thoughts simply give a false impression that a change of the year will produce a change in feelings and behaviors without additional effort. In REBT terms, we call this making the dreaded Aà C connection.

An arbitrary change in the calendar is unlikely to yield any radical change – just ask those who prepared for doomsday on December 21st. That being said, I certainly don’t wish to sound like a downer or send the message that you should give up your resolutions. I for one support anyone who wants to better his or her life. I simply wish to point out that the New Year alone is unlikely to produce meaningful change. I think Gandhi said it best when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Change does not need to happen in the New Year, but if you WANT it to it might be helpful to think about what YOU can think and do to foster the change you want to see.

Homework (yes, there is homework over winter break): 1) Imagine your life as you would like it to be in the New Year. 2) List how you would be thinking and acting differently under these more perfect circumstances. 3) Think and act in accordance with your list – Gandhi would be proud.

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