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Celebrating our Successes in the New Year
By Joyce & Barry Vissell

At this time of year, it is common for people to make New Year’s resolutions, looking back at the old year and finding ways to improve. This is a wonderful thing to do each year, but it is also important to avoid self-criticism if you do not follow through on those resolutions.
A very common resolution is vowing to take better care of your body through exercise. In the beginning of the year, gym memberships soar. I used to belong to a club where I went swimming almost every day. In the month of January, it was very difficult to find a place to park. I was told that this happens every year. People vow to exercise more. It lasts through January, then gradually wanes and by the end of the year, the parking lot looks almost empty. One of the managers told me that the gym actually plans on the increase of January memberships to keep running financially knowing that most of those people will not follow through. He further stated that if everyone used their gym membership regularly, it would be so crowded they would not be able to operate.
This year, I am going to suggest adding something to your routine of resolutions. How about looking back at the past year and celebrating the successes that you have made?
I am going to share one superficial celebration of success and a deeper one. My dentist and dental hygienist want me to spend even more time cleaning my teeth each night. They want me to spend ten full minutes flossing and ten full minutes using my Sonicare for a deeper cleaning. They also want me to use a rubber pic and then a little brush that goes between my teeth. Then when that is all done, brush with MI Paste. If I looked back on the year in the eyes of my dental team, I would feel that I had failed. But this year, I am going to look back and see that although I did not do everything that they wanted, I never skipped the dental floss or the little brush or the Sonicare (but only two minutes) and of course brushing. I sincerely tried and that is a success. I can strive to do more, but at the same time congratulate myself for what I did do. It feels so much better to celebrate my successes than criticize my failure to do all that was suggested.
And something much deeper. Several years ago, there arose a misunderstanding with a man who we loved very deeply. Barry and I wanted to meet and work out what ever it was that caused the misunderstanding. We had full confidence that we could come to an understanding again. This man, perhaps out of fear or stubbornness, refused to meet with us and instead blocked us from all areas of communication, phone, text, email, Facebook, etc. He then moved out of state and we had no means to know where he was. I felt very hurt that this man did not even give us a chance to work things out with him. I could have chosen to close my heart to this man and reason inside that he does not deserve my love. But I determined to keep my heart open and think positively about him. I knew that closing my heart would feel terrible and could cause illness and sleepless nights. Even though I strived all year to keep my heart open, sometimes the anger would come, especially when I thought that he did not even give us a chance to work things out. When I was aware of anger, I would force myself to sit down, close my eyes and think of ten positive things about this person. I always felt better after I did that. At the end of the year, as I looked back, I celebrated that I tried to keep my heart open and that I was able to think positively about this man. I had slips into negativity, but I forced myself to come back to positivity. I was not perfect, but I did have some successes. It was important that I focus on the successes.
In the beginning of this New Year, spend some time remembering and feeling your successes of the past year. Were you able to forgive someone? If so, that is a big success. Were you able to apologize to someone? Again, that is an amazing success. Were you able to make some progress getting out of debt, or perhaps adding more healthy food to your diet, or learning something new? Did you care for your body in any way, even if you weren’t consistent with your gym membership or other exercise? Did you declutter any part of your living space? Were you kind to anyone? The list can go on and on. Each success needs to be celebrated. You can be very proud and congratulate yourself. None of us are perfect, but we can love ourselves by acknowledging even the smallest successes.

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are the authors of 9 books and a new free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Call 831-684-2130 for further information on counseling sessions by phone, on-line, or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

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