And so it begins: a new year, a chance to re-evaluate, keep some newly-minted promises, and make kindness and gratitude mainstays of our lives. There is, after all, much to be thankful for—yes, even in this conflict-driven culture we’ve created for ourselves whose hallmarks are anger and a belief that we’re owed something when not.

Think there’s no good news out there to be thankful for? Well, here are several applaud-worthy events to get things started:

  1. Some 100 years ago, most folks in the world lived in extreme poverty. By 1990, the figure stood around 33%, dropping to 10% today.
  2. Voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election was the highest in 100 years, with 49.3% of potential voters going to the polls vs. 36.7% in 2014.
  3. Unemployment is at its lowest—3.7%–since 1969.
  4. Bipartisan laws have resulted in giving judges more leeway in sentencing, while reversing some of the excessive, inflexible, and mandatory minimum federal sentences.
  5. The InSight lander touched down safely on Mars in November and will keep sending data for the next two years.
  6. There’s even hope on the Alzheimer’s front with the Japanese drug BAN2401, which holds out hope for a practical treatment in the not-too-far distant future.

So give thanks. You’ve got nothing to lose, and, in fact, there’s much to be gained. Reports Maanvi Singh, “Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress, and improve interpersonal relationships.” Reportedly, being grateful can also lower heart attack risks and lesson symptoms of depression…

Bottom line: Model the behavior you long to see at home and out in the world, too. Your kids will thank you one day, following your lead in exercising kindness and gratitude for the many blessings you enjoy and the people who ease your way. That includes thank you notes–yes, even for gifts that hit the return pile.

Oh, and as my mom always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That means online, too.

With my many thanks for your continued support and wishes for happiness and health going forward, Carol