By Dr. Peter Kalellis

Two annual and significant events tend to enrich human life. Christians of every denomination recognize the birth of Jesus Christ as one of the most significant events in all of history. There is unspeakable profundity in the fact that God, although a spiritual being, out of infinite love took on human form and appeared on earth as one of us. He became a human being that humans were able to know and relate with their creator, the God who loves and cares for them. Christmas then could also be called The Celebration of Love. Music, presents, songs and dances, dinners and parties are ways that we express our love. Within a few days, we will move from the agony of anticipation that all goes well for us to the ecstasy of our satisfaction.

The excitement and joy of Christmas are followed by the celebration of the New Year, one of the most internationally recognized holidays. Different countries and cultures celebrate the arrival of the New Year. The common thread is a gratified goodbye to the previous year. You might be celebrating with your family or a few close friends. The hope is that your celebration will be pleasant and will offer some new ideas and plans that feel promising. The old year, 2017, is about to expire. We feel a sense of nostalgia as we reflect on the events that took place in our lives in the past 12 months. At best we can reflect on the lessons that our past have left with us. It is time to celebrate and leave behind pleasant or unpleasant events, and be prepared to welcome 2018 joyfully.

Celebrations, as exciting they can be, eventually come to an end. But life continues its course, presenting us with exciting challenges and new opportunities to explore. Being mindful of the passing time, we become aware of how precious is each hour of the day, each moment. What we have left behind, what we produce in the future will have less importance than what we are doing right now, this very moment, for our wellness and peace.

The present moment is our best friend. In the morning as we wake up and it just happens to feel tired or moody, we can take a look at our self in a mirror, smile at the image that we see and then get back in bed and stay under the covers for a few minutes. Prop up our head with a comfortable pillow and rediscover the smile we had just seen as we looked in the mirror. If we continue to look tired or moody, our day will be sad both for the people we will encounter and for us. A handshake accompanied by an anxious and worried face evokes anguish, but a handshake accompanied by a smiling face conveys pleasant and kind feelings. If kindness comes from our heart, it will give us good feelings. But when kindness is offered out of obligation it lacks dignity.

To be a happy person, you need to gain mastery over yourself. You may need to concentrate on the present moment as if this were your last moment in life. The quality of time that you lived yesterday is lost in time; the quality of time that you may be planning to live tomorrow is unpredictable; the quality of time that you choose to live today, not only will give you joy, strength, and motivation, but it will inspire those around you.

Regretting the past or dreading the future can make anyone fearful and sad. But being happy this present moment makes us stand tall. However your personality may be at this reading, you can make a choice. The present moment, as short as it may be, is more important, for it gives you the opportunity to become aware of your strengths and to use them wisely.

Whoever you are, you have a little effort to make each day to rediscover people with who you could establish a friendly relationship or who need a helping hand. It is today, this very moment to begin having positive thoughts, speaking a kind word, making a gesture of sympathy or friendship to give meaning to the present. All of us must make an effort to be like oxygen purifying the air and sustaining life around us.

Allow me to add a few thoughts here to help you get started: Just put this magazine down and take a fifteen-minute walk in your neighborhood. Leave your cell phone home or wherever you happen to be. There’s something to be said about being completely unreachable. Who’s to say that we’re available whenever someone needs us? You are. Nothing matters right now. Look around and enjoy the grandeur of Mother Nature. Look at the trees how they grow and how their branches reach out. Look at the sky and as you continue walking, take a few deep breaths of the fresh air and feel refreshed and revitalized. Resist the urge to see what is on your Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Remember, you are not doing this to ignore someone, but you are paying attention to yourself. Later make a phone call to someone you love. After your walk making a short and simple call will nurture your soul and will make someone happy. That someone is you. This is an easy one that can take as little as five minutes.

• A style of a happier life can be as you direct your energies to discovering the values that exist within you. Do not be mean or cold to others, instead be kind and seek the riches that live in everyone. For better relationships, your initiative is essential.
• All humans are vulnerable. We need to know our strengths and our weaknesses and accept them as part of our human condition. We may be spiritual people, but we also are subject of our physical self. Sometimes, we are not able to exercise a valid and efficient control.
• The day is today that you will discover your fundamental qualities; those inherited developmentally from your home life, from your education, and from your environment. Then you can employ them each day, each hour for your wellness and the benefit of others.

Dr. Peter M. Kalellis is a psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, lecturer, and writer. He has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is the author of many books. He maintains his practice in Westfield, New Jersey.