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A new year.

It's a brand new year. For a lot of people, a brand New Year might sound really appealing.

If you receive this newsletter because you know me, you likely already know that I am from Buffalo and that I adore the Buffalo Bills. You likely also know that Buffalo has had a pretty challenging year including a tragic shooting at a grocery store and a recent blizzard that took the lives of around 40 Buffalonians. And then, just this week, Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle during the game on Monday night and remains in critical condition in the ICU.

Over the past few years, I've heard many people say that they want to write off the entire year, and yes, there have definitely been hard and long stretches, tragic events, hardships, things we'd like to forget, but it just doesn't work that way. You can't forget a year or pretend it never happened.

You can't get it back, either.

If you've been keeping up with updates on Damar Hamlin, you may have heard him talk about playing football in a recent interview: "I can't even describe it, but I cherish every never know when your last day could be that you get to experience something like this. I'm cherishing every moment that I can."

Here's what we know: joy doesn't exist without sadness. The good comes with sad, hard, and terrifying, but it makes the good the much better. We are wired to focus on the negative (which helps us with survival), and so we often have to work a little harder to find and remember the positive.

Here's an idea (I've shared this before, but it's worth sharing again):

It's a family friendly activity, regardless of your Pinterest status. Grab any jar (a clear jar might be the most fun), create a few colored strips of paper, and write down the good stuff that happens over the next 52 weeks. Any memorable event, large or small, or when something exciting happens, or someone learned something or overcame a challenging situation, worked really, really hard and earned a C+, went out of their way to be kind or helpful - write it down and add it to the jar. It would be easy to focus on outcomes here (e.g., won a championship, got straight As,) and you can definitely include those accolades, but don't forget to include the really important things (like effort and kindness).

You can definitely use different color papers, but I wouldn’t assign colors to family members. It’s not a competition, and you’re all on the same team anyway!

Then, on December 31st, your family can go through the jar and read each piece of paper and take a minute to remember the highs of the year. Life has been hard lately, and it’s unfortunately easier to remember the tough times during the year. Here's a way to remember all the good that can happen, even in the hardest of times.

Cheers to the new year! The highs, the lows and everything in between.

Dr. Kate

p.s., Go Bills and please keep Damar Hamlin and his family and teammates in your thoughts. As an update, just before this post went live, there have been some positive reports about his progress.

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