Embracing positivity in 2022

It's been a year full of false starts, with most of the nation in and out of lockdown for months at a time. Yet as new growth spurs after a bushfire, it's been wonderful to witness our towns and cities coming back to life just in time for the festive season.

As we start to reflect on the year that’s been, it’s important that we look to the year ahead and make a plan to joy-start 2022.

The lengthy hibernation for many of Australians shone the light on what was truly important – family and friends. As we enter 2022 it’s vital to prioritise spending time with people that buoy your spirits. A joy-filled way to boost positive vibes is sharing a laugh. Most laughter occurs during conversations, not when something funny happens, so create opportunities for conversational laughter.

Speaking of laughter, there’s an old Yiddish proverb that goes, “We plan, God laughs”. In 2021, this saying had never been truer ­- with celebrations of all kinds having to be cancelled or postponed at the very last minute. When and if plans to come to fruition, celebrating these small miracles deepens our joy and appreciation.

More than that, an essential mental health attribute to help navigate future uncertain waters is an ability to go with the flow. It's further enhanced by embracing an attitude of gratitude to counter any disappointments. Being able to appreciate the good in our life is a potent mental health tool and invaluable personal resource to enhance psychological resilience. The more you consciously connect to feelings of gratitude, even for seemingly trivial beneficial or positive experiences, the more you train your brain to notice the good.

This goodness then ripples out to loved ones, acquaintances and into the wider community. It also connects us to the present moment, reminding us there is always something to be grateful for.  An especially invaluable practice when faced with challenges or when life is disrupted. Becoming consciously grateful strengthens neural pathways associated with positivity and wellbeing. A grateful heart and mind create a more positive and harmonious internal environment, enabling us to be more fully connected to our joy.

As the countdown to the New Year begins, let’s endeavour to joy-start 2022. Grasp opportunities to speak up and enjoy laughter. Wherever possible go with the flow; and grow gratitude. Your future self will thank you for it.

Ros Ben-Moshe is director of LaughLife Wellbeing Programs, adjunct lecturer in the School of Psychology and coordinator of the Laughter, Resilience and Wellbeing professional short course at La Trobe University.

Drawing on Ros' rich research expertise and her experiences in this emerging field, La Trobe's Laughter, Resilience and Wellbeing short course is the first of its kind in Australia. Check it out here.

This article originally appeared in Australian Community Media.