Tony Kirkman

Tony Kirkman is the executive director of the Piatt County Mental Health Department.

I’ve always found the celebrations around the New Year to be interesting. Many look back on 2022 with great thanks as this was the beginning of new life markers such as the birth of a baby or wedding.

Others look forward to kicking last year to the curb and hoping for better fortune in a new year filled with new possibilities. If you are like about 40% of the US adult population, January 1st was the beginning of your New Year’s resolution.

The most common resolution is usually health-related which explains why the gyms are packed on January 2nd. However, despite the zeal displayed to honor their newly established resolution, almost 80% abandon these goals by the second week of February.

Also, according to a 2019 research project by Strava, which used over 800 million user-logged activities, they predict that the day most people are likely to give up on their resolutions is January 19th which they affectionately call “Quitter’s Day.”

Now, the purpose of this article is not to comment on whether you have made or kept a resolution. Rather this is an open call to our entire community to engage behavioral changes that will hopefully lead to an improvement of not only individual wellness but community wellness as well.

After spending many years working in mental health may I offer the following suggestions:

• Stand with people who are going through difficult times instead of taking the easier route of walking away. Your presence in hard times will never be forgotten.

• Fix your gaze on the positive things in your life instead of focusing on the negative or what is missing. I remember an older pastor once say, “It is hard to be optimistic, with misty optics.”

• Let transgressions roll off your back and not stick to your thoughts. The quicker you can release an offense, the less likely it has an opportunity to saturate your soul.

• Choose to use your hands for serving when a need presents itself instead of pointing out who isn’t pulling their weight. Love in action is powerful to both those directly affected as well as those who witness the action.

• Likewise, use your arms to pull people closer instead of pushing them away. The reality is we as a community have far more in common than we do apart.

• Feed your passions. Choose an area where you would like to personally grow and go after it. Don’t allow your 2023 self to be the same as the 2022 version.

• Use your heart to love unconditionally, starting with yourself. Find things that justify your purpose, passion, and worth.

• When stressed, realize breathe control is key. Also strive to live an intentional life versus a busy life. Making room or capacity in one’s life is necessary for wellness.

Maybe it may be difficult for you to tackle this entire list, but I guarantee you that choosing a few will have a significant impact upon your life and those you can influence.

Recently, I was reading a passage from a book that I have chosen to adopt as my 2023 mantra. In this book, a gentleman was asked how he was doing and he answered, “At this point in my life, I’m just trying not to miss the goodness of each day, and bring my best self to it.”

The truth is, there is good in every day, and I can capture it if I bring the right tools to snare it. My hope and prayer for you is that you have an amazing and healthy 2023.

Never forget that I’m rooting for you!

Tony Kirkman is the executive director of the Piatt County Mental Health Department.

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