Every time I Google “hopeful thoughts for 2018,” what I find are trite lackluster suggestions (“clean out your closet! write down your goals!”), so I guess it’s up to me to come up with something better. No, I can’t put “change the administration” on my to-do list for 2018. But there are things that I can do—and that you can do—to make a difference in the world. Don’t give up on them.

I hope that one or two of these items make sense to you… and might help make your 2018 a little more bearable—or even, just possibly, brilliant:

  1. Learn how to accept defeat when it happens, and move on. I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn from our failures. But we can’t keep saying that Hillary should have won. Moving forward involves… moving.
  2. Challenge yourself to grow. Decide that this is the year to learn a new language, or pick up a new hobby, or read a different book every month. Do something that will make you stretch. It will feel really good, I promise.
  3. Make your bed every day. No, I’m not your mother, but she was right. All our lives feel cluttered right now, and an unmade bed is messy, both literally and symbolically. Get out of bed, make it, and move forward into your day.
  4. Forego one coffee every week. Just one. And take that money and give it away. To Helping Our Women, to SKIP, to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Give it to someone who will do some good with it.
  5. Just say no. If you would prefer to stay home and have an early night and someone wants you to come out for a drink, it’s okay to say no. To take care of your own needs. That’s the only way you’ll ever be able to do anything for anyone else. Stay healthy and fit, because we need you.
  6. Get involved outside of Facebook. Let’s face it, most of the time when you post something political, you’re preaching to the choir. You’re not really changing anything. So do something for change. Understand the issues and make your voice heard on Countable. If you’re not registered to vote, do that right now. Write Congress with ResistBot. Write a letter to the editor.
  7. Volunteer. A lot of us don’t have a lot of money to give, but especially in the off-season, we can all find time to help. Independence House is always looking for hotline volunteers. The AIDS support group, CASAS, Provincetown and Truro Public Schools and COAs… the opportunities are endless and you can find someone, somewhere, who needs what you have to offer. Just to make the world a better place.
  8. Look for the joy. It’s everywhere, but we get so engrossed in our problems that we don’t see it. A walk on the beach with your dog. Watching a spectacular sunset. The smell of bread baking. A hot shower when your muscles are stiff. The smallest things can bring joy if we let them. Don’t look for the pain; look for the joy.

In Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot wrote, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”

Be that voice. Claim those words. They belong to us.

Happy New Year, everyone!