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All singing can produce positive psychological effects. It releases endorphins, our brain’s feel-good chemicals.

Looking over my intentions for the next 365 days, one thing seems clear: I am in hot pursuit of more sparkle.

The EKG readout of my last year is a bit flat. I’ve been in a liminal space. Not sure what I want, which makes it difficult to point the vehicle of my life in a particular direction. I would like to blame it on the pandemic, but I cannot.

So, by the end of this fresh new year, I want to be able to reflect back and see more growth, more tried opportunities, even more failures. Just more of nibbling at life’s buffet dishes. My right-brain self balks at the idea of nailing down an organized list of desires, but perhaps there’s something to it. Those people seem to get more accomplished than me, who often floats along on fickle winds.

In the meantime, here are a few ways I’d like to introduce more joy into the bounty of my days. Maybe they resonate with you, too?

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New Year’s intention No. 1: Make more talk that is small.

It was a tiny conversation I can’t remember with a human I also can’t remember. But I walked away from our brief exchange about nothing in particular and felt like my battery had been recharged. And I realized I want and need more of this — humans and their quirks and meandering, meaningless, idle communication.

It happened again on Christmas Eve, as a line of us queued up at the bank. The fellow in front of me turned around, and saw I wasn’t hypnotized by my hand-held computer and also willing to make eye contact. And that’s when I was debriefed on how the U.S. has the best system in the world, something he realized after his travels abroad. His train of thought wandered a little, but I still felt like Oliver Twist: “Please, sir, I want some more.” And by more, I mean more human connection. On his way out, he offered me a friendly wave. Godspeed, good sir.

These are the strangers we encounter as we all move about the planet, in and out of each other’s force fields. The people who make up the connective tissue of our lives. We see them maybe daily, at the coffee shop or the grocery store. Maybe we smile or nod as we pass in the park or on the sidewalk, but don’t usually know much about them, just that they exist, much as we exist as background characters in their world.

It might seem like mere crumbs of companionship we can offer to each other as we wander through our days, but strung together, those crumbs can become a whole meal. When a couple of particularly quiet days line up in a row, I feel depleted, flattened. That’s when I become a crumb collector, snatching up bits of conversation and connection that often immediately bounce me back into technicolor.

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New Year’s intention No. 2: If you want to sing out, sing out.

Yes, Cat Stevens, I want to. Singing has a magical ability to lift you up from the dankest doldrums of Dismalville.

According to the website How Stuff Works, all singing can produce positive psychological effects. It releases endorphins, our brain’s feel-good chemicals, also stimulated by exercise, laughter and getting some sunshine on your skin.

I know this, and yet, when I take a fast train to Sadsville, it’s a challenge to motivate myself to even touch the music apps on my phone. But if I can, and a favorite Broadway tune, such as Rent’s “Seasons of Love,” pulses through the speakers, I automatically start to belt out that harmonious chorus like Pavlov’s dog.

To make this process one tiny smidge easier for my stubborn self, I’ve started a YouTube playlist titled: If you wanna sing out. Current songs include “Cry to Me,” a cover of Bert Berns’ old song; Taylor Swift’s “Lover”; and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party for One.” Suggestions welcome. They don’t even have to be cheerful, just highly sing-able.

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New Year’s intention No. 3: Intimacy. Or, as the therapy world sometimes calls it: into-me-see.

“Intimacy is the sense of another person fully knowing you, and loving you because of who you are, as well as in spite of it. This requires taking a leap into rare honesty and allowing yourself to be vulnerable,” according to an article on the Psychology Today website.

I want to lean into intimacy. I have no idea what this will look like, but I’m hopeful that stating the intention will open up windows, doors, crawl spaces, window wells, what have you. I would like to gather up all of my friends and family and the not-yet-known keepers of my secrets, and draw them in closer, where we can all feel safe enough to be seen, heard, not judged and embraced for all the things that make us cry in the shower, and all the things we want deep down, but are afraid to say out loud.

One common way to deepen intimacy involves disclosing more about yourself to others. It can be uncomfortable, and you have to select the right people, but this works. Being brave enough to tell somebody something deeply personal often elicits an equally personal tidbit. And then surprise — you feel closer, more bonded and on the path to a new level of friendship or relationship. I’m down with small talk (see intention No. 1), but there’s nothing like big talk — getting into back stories and histories and why we think we do the things we do.

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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