Remember those gold stars we used to get in elementary school?

The visible signs that we had done a good job – and it was noticed and rewarded?

Somehow as we get older those tangible reminders that we are doing good work, and accomplishing important goals disappear.

gold star well done

We may not even remember from week to week what we have done – against all odds. The hard project that we stayed with and finished – the important but daily tasks that we do with persistence and determination, like exercise, or keeping up with our meds.

This year, let’s sit down and tally up the results of our hard work.

It makes a difference. Research shows that we are wired to focus in on crisis more than the resolution, on the problem instead of what solved it. We tend not to notice positive and enjoyable moments – they are fleeting in our memories, as opposed to sad, painful, or difficult situations. But, when we make the effort and begin to pay attention, note and even dwell on positive and rewarding moments, our mood is lifted, and we become more resilient and energetic. This creates the “upward” spiral that can support us in dealing with daily stresses.

The end of the year is a good time to take stock of what worked, where we triumphed, how we put forth effort towards building health and maintaining our spirits.

Here are a few questions to get you started.

Review the year 2011 by months. Jot down important events, and daily routines.

What was your biggest success in 2011?

Where were you most courageous?

What important risks did you take on behalf of your health?

How did you best support your body?

Who made a difference in your healing?

Where did you try something that helps you feel better?

What did you learn about yourself this year?

What word describes the best of your year?

What habit or practice do you want to take forward?

When did you try even when you didn’t feel like it?

What was the biggest health challenge you dealt with? How did you deal with it?

Now think of the gold stars that you have accumulated. For extra points, go to the store and get some and put them on the paper where you wrote down all these accomplishments. Put the list up where you can see t and review it so you notice how strong, and bold, and persistent you are. How you are becoming gentle with yourself and others, as you develop your warrior spirit. Where you are learning and growing and trying new things.

Let me know some of your great accomplishments. Hearing about others who have tried new things, risked finding the doctor who really gets it, told someone about their illness, took a vacation to a cool spot, worked on some different ways to move their body – all these stories give support and encouragement – not only to the one who tells the story, but to our community.

Let’s bring encouragement and enthusiasm to the beginning of 2012!

I wish the best for you and those you love in the new year.