5 ways to end the year on a positive note

As we approach the end of another year, it’s natural to reflect on the months that have passed. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, embracing the year for what it was and finding positivity in our experiences can make a real difference in how we feel. Here are five ways to end the year on a high note, filled with gratitude and optimism.

1. Cherish the Top Moments of Each Month

When we look back on the past year, our minds often first recall the most intense moments. This is because our brain has a natural bias towards remembering emotionally charged experiences, which is called salience in neuroscience. Instead of passively letting our brain default to this pattern based on emotional intensity, we can consciously choose to focus on the positive aspects. By methodically reflecting on each month of the past year and identifying moments that brought us joy – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – we actively direct our attention to the positive experiences, allowing us to appreciate and cherish them more fully.

Start by listing down the months, and alongside each, note the joyful moments that come to mind. These are the memories that brought a smile to your face, the ones that linger in your heart. Feel free to add as many as you can recall – the more, the better. This exercise of focusing on positive experiences serves as a reminder of the good times we’ve had, highlighting the joy that can be found even in everyday life.

2. Embrace the Challenges

The other day I needed to ride my motorcycle to work. It was drizzling, cold, and miserable. But then I thought, “Well, at least it’s not a storm”. The weather did not change, but the way I felt about the weather did, so my ride to work became a little bit easier and more enjoyable.

We can apply a similar approach to our challenges. I am sure that this year, like every year, brought plenty of challenges. Whether it was a disagreement, a loss, or a setback, these moments are an integral part of our journey. By acknowledging these challenges and finding appreciation in them, we grow.

However, this is not easy if we have lost a loved one. In this case, we can hold onto the precious memories and cherish them. At least, we had the luck to know this person and spend some of our life with them. There is time for grief, and then there is time to find strength and resilience.

3. Express Gratitude with ‘Thank You’ Notes

‘Thank you’ notes have a surprisingly profound power. Whether it is an email or a handwritten card, a ‘thank you’ note is a simple yet meaningful way to acknowledge the kindness we’ve encountered. It lifts not only our own spirits, but also those of the recipient.

In personal relationships, ‘thank you’ notes can deepen bonds and remind people of their value in our lives. In professional settings, they help build rapport and a positive atmosphere, encouraging a cycle of good deeds and mutual respect. The ripple effect of this small gesture can be far-reaching, as it reinforces the importance of acknowledging each other’s contributions in our interconnected lives.

4. Learn from Missed Opportunities

Let’s reflect on the opportunities that didn’t pan out as we hoped. Whether it was a missed promotion, a relationship that ended, or a decision we now regret, these missed opportunities are valuable learning experiences. They can even be transformed into New Year’s resolutions.

For the moment, let’s concentrate on the lessons these situations have taught us and how they can shape our future decisions. By turning our regrets into learnings, we arm ourselves with the wisdom to better handle similar situations in the future.

Write down what you’ve learned from each experience. Next to your learnings, create a list of If/Then statements. For example, “If this situation occurs again, then I will…” This exercise primes your brain to recognize similar scenarios in the future and to prepare a different, more informed response.

5. Appreciate Your Health

Whether you’re enjoying robust health or navigating the challenges of an illness, the simple act of reaching the end of another year alive is an accomplishment in itself. Pause for a moment and truly experience being alive. Observe your hands, the sensations in your feet, gently close your eyes, and become aware of your breath. There’s a profound beauty in acknowledging our existence, in feeling awe rather than taking our life for granted.

Take a moment to express gratitude – to a higher power, your chosen deity, the universe, fate, or even the unique set of circumstances that have led you to this moment. Recognizing and appreciating the gift of life deepens our connection to the world around us and enhances our sense of well-being.


We can end the year with bitterness about what we don’t have or we didn’t achieve; or we can be grateful for what we experienced and learned. Let’s choose to be optimistic, to use our experiences – both good and bad – as stepping stones towards what we hope to achieve.

Ending the year on a positive note sets the tone for the new year. Here’s to a year well-lived and the promise of another year of growth and joy.

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