Well, it’s 2018 already!

Before we get into this month’s column, I’m going to mention what’s become my January mantra. Every year, because I get lots of positive feedback, I say some version of:

Another year just flew by. And this year will fly by quickly too. Here’s the fact to focus on: You will not be the same a year from now. The change may be gradual or dramatic, but you cannot stay the same. Life and reality just don’t allow that.

The options you control are: You will not be as healthy as you are while you read this—or you can choose to make specific improvements to your overall health and general fitness level. That’s it. We now know you have a lot of control over what used to be attributed to aging. You can have positive results in strength, daily energy, body weight, balance, arthritis pain/discomfort and almost all measurable health criteria.

I hope you choose to improve.

Now, this month’s column. It’s going to be about idealism. By definition, an idealist is unrealistic and impractical. Who would want that as a guide to live by?

Ever watch a good courtroom drama? (By the way, I think all teenagers should be introduced to lots of ’em and here’s why.) The efficient prosecuting attorney makes such a strong convincing case that we’re ready for the punishment to begin. Severe and right now!

Enter the defense attorney who starts chipping away at some of the premises, exposing some of the assumptions that were presented as facts, planting seeds of doubt, offering alternative viewpoints, making everyone involved ask some valid questions. Steering us away from confirmation bias. Making us think.

OK, so what? Well, says Brian, the defense attorney, an idealist is also a dreamer, imagining how things could be, not just accepting them as they are. An idealist is a romantic thinker who values the joys in life. So, an idealist is optimistic about future potential.

If you’ve read this far without getting bored, you will see where this is going: the same direction all my columns go. We have the potential, the opportunity, to make our short, short lives more pleasant, to live with less discomfort and with more daily energy. If we look at others and think they’re just plain lucky, remember, a lot of what we label as lucky is first recognizing, and then acting on, opportunities.

Due to publishing deadlines, I’m writing this just before one of my two favorite holidays and you’re reading it just after the other. Thanksgiving, because it’s inclusive and doesn’t prescreen for religion or other divisions, because it’s about family, and because even in bad times, we can all find plenty to be thankful for.

New Year’s, because it inspires us to at least look at where we are, where we’d like to be, what we’d like to change and maybe actually inspires us to follow through on some of the ideas. (Hmmm… “ideas” comes from the same word root as idealist, doesn’t it?).

Positive improvements to anything, including ourselves, start with ideas. Add the realistic qualities of resolve, self-discipline, persistence, hard stuff like that and this idealist says much more is possible than anyone will stumble on by just being a realist.

Wishing you a better 2018!