Each year we make New Year's resolutions to exercise more, to cut out our favorite tempting (and unhealthy) foods, or to break some negative habit.  And each year, most of our break our resolutions within weeks of New Year's and then feel guilty and disappointing in our lack of perseverance in our self-improvement efforts.

So this year I've decided to break the pattern and instead of resolving to do something that changes me or some aspect of my life, I've resolved to accept what is in my life and be grateful for it.  To do so, I found inspiration in Fraulein Maria's song from "The Sound of Music" and made a list of my favorite things in the hopes that this will make me want to spin around on a hillside belting out gratitude for the good in my life. 

My list doesn't include raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens but it does include other mundane items that bring me pleasure, like "new car" smell, or the crisp quiet that accompanies a snowfall.  It also includes aspects of my life that occured as a result of my wishes not being granted, such as dissolutions of romantic relationships; and it includes things that others might find to be gross, like the smell of my kid's stinky feet at the end of the day or the smell of tar baking in the heat of the summer sun.  It includes imperfections, such as my kid's crooked front teeth and the scar on my knee from one of the many times that I skinned my knee during childhood.  And it includes aspects of various parts of my life, like my co-workers who make work fun, my family who make life entertaining, and the mess in my house that indicates that we are spending our time together having fun.

There is a wisdom in the lyrics of this song and although it sounds overly simplistic, when things go wrong, you really do feel better if you think about some of your favorite things.  People who get depressed or anxious often have a tendency to notice and remember negative things in their lives and to overlook the positive.  A central component of numerous effective treatments for symptoms of depression and anxiety involves training to look for the positives in life.  Simplistic as it is, it works.  So "when the dog bites, when the bee stings" or any day this year, resolve to simply remember your favorite things and then you won't feel so bad.

Copyright Amy Przeworski

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About the Author

Amy Przeworski, Ph.D.

Amy Przeworski, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University and specializes in anxiety disorders in children, adolescents, and adults.

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