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Opinion: Don't let the January blues get you down – make small, positive changes

January can feel like a very long month indeed, but you can make it through with the right attitude.

Tony Moore

I MUST ACKOWLEDGE January is not my favourite month. But how I think about it and my reaction to it determines, somewhat, how I, will get through it. This applies to not only surviving January but, also, to so much in our lives. After the festive fun of December, the bleakness of January can drag on for many of us; dark mornings back in work with little to look forward to. But January is here – and the New Year beckons.

Many of us look into the New Year with a mixture of foreboding and excitement. There will be the usual mix of disappointments and pleasant surprises in the next 12 months. There will, of course, be challenges that, if we knew about them beforehand, we would probably retreat from. Challenges in our relationships, in or careers, or even finding a job which remains a huge challenge for many Irish people. The truth is none of us know what lies ahead. We can, of course, try and chart some course for ourselves but unforeseen events, both good and bad, as usual, will get in the way.

Let’s not be too coy about it; January can feel like a very long month indeed. We can also feel overwhelmed. Where do we begin to try and get our life kick started? The media are not short of a plethora of diets, exercises and motivation gurus to sort us all out and ‘fix’ everything, hopefully without us having to put in too much effort! That’s why I am a fan of R&A (Reasonable & Achievable). I think I’ll leave all those ‘get fit in 7 days’ programmes to those that have the time and energy. The only instant thing I know that has an immediate positive impact is to de-clutter. Get rid of anything that is creating mess and taking up space. When you do that you will feel you have some space to breathe. Instant and liberating!

Now, let’s sit down and examine what other ‘little’ change we can make that will have an advantageous impact on our life. Most of us will say we want to be happy, healthy and rich. But being rich won’t make us happy, and not necessarily healthy. Being rich will certainly relieve some of the financial pressure (which is most welcome!), but that will only be replaced by another pressure. So being rich won’t necessarily make you happier.

This is called the Easterlin Paradox; named after Richard Easterlin an economics professor. If you are very rich and/or famous who exactly are your genuine friends? Exactly! The same ones you had when you had little money and were not famous. Hang on to them.

One thing we can do to help ourselves is to learn something new. There’s plenty to learn and a lot of it is for free. So your first task is to search out some free education. Ireland is blessed with beautiful countryside and coastlines that tourists spend a fortune to visit. We are lucky that for us it’s free, and there’s not a lot that’s free so let’s make the most of it! I confess I’m a bit of a list person. For just over 30 years each year I have pledged to do something new and challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. Do just one new thing a year. I think that is R&A (see above). I’m happy to say sometimes I manage two or three new experiences a year, but I’m happy enough with one.

When we look back over the year we need to feel we have made a positive difference in our own lives and in the lives of others. By helping ourselves, by doing something new, for example, we both increase our own confidence, and thereby our happiness, and that increased confidence just might inspire someone else. You will be remembered for the change you made to someone else’s life, that cost them and you nothing, whilst also helping yourself into the bargain. Sincere best wishes for 2015.

Tony Moore is a counsellor for Relationships Ireland. Relationships Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that offers confidential relationship counselling services based on ability to pay. For more information or to book a consultation you can contact 1890 380 380, email info@relationshipsireland.com or visit www.relationshipsireland.com.

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Tony Moore

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