This Ann Landers column from 1997 was recently shared with me at work. I thought it would be good to share with the class.
Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time for. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge and replace it with some pleasant memories. Share a funny story with someone whose spirits are dragging. A good laugh can be very good medicine.
Vow not to make a promise you don’t think you can keep. Pay a debt. Give a soft answer. Free yourself of envy and malice. Encourage some youth to do his or her best. Share your experience and offer support. Young people need role models.
Make a genuine effort to stay in closer touch with family and friends. Stop magnifying small problems and shooting from the lip. Words that you have to eat can be hard to digest.
Find the time to be kind and thoughtful. All of us have the same allotment: 24 hours a day. Give a compliment. It might give someone a badly needed lift.
Think things through. Forgive an injustice. Listen more. Be kind. Apologize when you realize you are wrong. An apology never diminishes a person. It elevates him. Don’t blow your own horn. If you’ve done something praiseworthy, someone will notice eventually.
Try to understand a point of view that differs from yours. Little is all one way or another. Examine demands you make on others.
Lighten up. When you feel like blowing your top, ask yourself, “Will it matter a week from today?” Laugh the loudest when the joke is on you. The sure way to have a friend is to be one. We are all connected by your humanity, and we need each other. Avoid malcontents and pessimists. They drag you down and contribute nothing.
Don’t discourage a beginner from trying something risky. Nothing ventured means nothing gained. Be optimistic. The can-do spirit is the fuel that makes things go.
Go to war against animosity and complacency. Express your gratitude. Give credit when it’s due – and even when it isn’t. It will make you look good. Read something uplifting. Deep-six the trash. You wouldn’t eat garbage, why put it in your head? Don’t abandon your old-fashioned principles. They never go out of style. When courage is needed, ask yourself, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Take better care of yourself. Remember, you’re all you’ve got. Pass up that second helping. You really don’t need it. Vow to eat more sensibly. You’ll feel better and look better, too. Don’t put up with secondhand smoke. Nobody has the right to pollute your air or give you cancer. If someone says, “This is a free country,” remind him or her that the country may be free but no person is free if he has a habit he can’t control.
Return those books you borrowed. Reschedule that missed dental appointment. Clean out your closet. Take those photos out of the drawer and put them in an album. If you see litter on the sidewalk, pick it up. Give yourself a reality check. Phoniness is transparent and tiresome. Take pleasure in the beauty and the wonders of nature.
Walk tall and smile more. You’ll look 10 years younger. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you.” Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world. If you have love in your life, it can be the best year ever.