Thoughts from the Therapy Chair with Joe Martino: December Edition

The end of the year is finally here! And what a year it has been.

I love the start of a new year. Yes, I know it’s just another start of a new month but there is something that can be magical about the possible start of a new year.

For many, there is also a sense of dread for a new year. Especially, it seems to me, this year.

I’m hoping that you are finding some hope as we look forward to the next year.

Here are some things that I have found helpful to foster hope in my own life and in the life of my clients.

What are you thankful for?

I have found that making a list of the things that I’m thankful in two ways. First of all, what am I thankful for in my life outside of the year? I met my wife long before 2020 and she is something that I am thankful for, so she goes on this list. The same thing for my children and my business. My home goes here. This list is a great way to remind myself of all people, places and things in my life that I have to be thankful for.

Then my next list is what are things I’m thankful for specific to the year 2020. What happened this year that I can and should be thankful for? That I can give gratitude for? This is especially powerful in hard years like this year.

What are you hopeful for?

This too is a powerful tool. In a year like 2020, where there was so much that changed and so much that was lost. Sometimes, we can get so focused on what we lost that we lose hope for what we could gain in the future.  Very often, people who have suffered will lose any hope that the suffering will stop or that good things can happen again. But often, the reality is that for the majority of people, there has been both good and bad things that people experience. Hopeful people train their brain to recognize and identify the good things that happen every day. This exercise will help you begin to train your brain to see things that are positive.

What are 2-3 things you are committed to trying to make happen in 2021?

This is not a New Year’s Resolution. This is a commitment to effort. What are two or three things you want get started in 2021? Maybe it’s time to get a few classes started? Maybe you have a business idea you want to attempt. Whatever it is, narrow your focus down to just two of three things and put it down on the paper.

Commit to doing this one thing.

Commit to writing down three things that you are thankful for in your life every day. Doing this, will train your brain to see the positive things happening in your life. This could be something that happened in the last twenty-four hours or something that has been a part of your life that you have taken for granted or not recognized in a while. As Andy says in the Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.”

May you, my friend find the space to foster hopefulness and joy in 2021.

Joe Martino is a counselor with Joe Martino Counseling Network.  He has locations in Lowell, Grand Rapids, Greenville, and Grandville.  For more information about Joe and his business, check their website or Facebook page.  He and the rest of the counselors and staff are eager to help those in need.  

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