The start of a new year, a new decade no less, should be marked by a pause in our daily lives. Time to get rid of what is dragging us down and to focus on what is working in our lives. While others are gnashing their teeth at the year they are leaving behind -- the decade that they are getting rid of (naughty aughties, anyone?), a few of us are optimistically anticipating the year and the decade to come.
The best way to get over a bad event is to "look suffering straight in the eye, acknowledge and respect its presence," according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ("Finding Flow," Basic Books, 1997), "and then to get busy as soon as possible focusing on things we choose to focus on."
It's time for our nation's citizens to get busy creating our nation's future.
Why should we be optimistic? The last two years have wreaked havoc on our economic system; the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent; banks are collapsing; companies are being taken over by government; and we are piling on debt.
But we should be optimistic, if for no other reason than because sitting around moping will not get us anywhere -- and neither will blaming everything that's gone wrong on the person who came before.
What does work is optimism, belief that the future will be better, that we can affect our future and that, with hard work, we can change the trajectory of our lives individually, as families, as states and as a nation. Such optimism allows us to set positive goals, concentrate, focus, work hard and lose ourselves in the process of creating the life that we have envisioned.
In the century before the birth of Christ, the Roman poet Juvenal wrote about the Roman populace as longing for only "bread and circuses." His view was that the people who were once involved in creating the future of their nation cared then only for the day's food and entertainment.
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties;" he wrote in "Satire X," "for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions -- everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses."