As incoming or returning students, every year we are able to reinvent ourselves. Today is not like yesterday. Well, for some it might be, but that is solely your choice. No one is making you go to Clinton every day and sit alone. No one is making you stay in your dorm, day in and day out. We are in an environment where we have choices — so many choices it can be overwhelming sometimes. Open your mind and your heart to the numerous possibilities to be happy and enjoy yourself.

Be sporadic and step out of your comfort zone. Help the person next door, go to a free concert or sit with the kid who’s by his or herself. If you don’t have any friends, put yourself out there and say “hi” to someone. That simple “Hello” can lead to a friendship that lasts for years to come. If you don’t know what to do, maybe go to the activities fair and sign up for a bunch of random things. At the meetings, maybe you’ll realize that the event isn’t for you, but the people who make up the group are awesome. Plattsburgh is a place to try new things. Take advantage of the countless activities happening every day.

Now, once you’ve taken that step to be open to new opportunities, let go of the past. Open your mind to the idea that you might actually enjoy the company of the odd stranger you just met. Try something out, and don’t give up on it so quickly. Everything takes time. New opportunities may be scary. They may be exciting. Actually, it just might be a whole lot of feelings and you can’t put it all in one category. Well, heck, that’s normal, just go with it.

Instead of being what others say you should be, just be what you want to be. At some point, you have to realize that you are in charge of your life. Not your family members. Not your friends. You.

If you don’t know who you are, which is perfectly normal, just live every day with a positive vibe. At night, go through your day. Think about everything that made you happy. Steven Archer, a Harvard graduate and the leading expert in positivity research, has found that five small changes over the course of thirty days can change how you look at your environment and enable you to see it in a more positive way.

Those simple steps are writing three gratitudes each day, journaling, exercising, meditating and random acts of kindness.
Each day, take out a piece of looseleaf and write three things you’re thankful for. It may be hard at first, but over time you’ll realize there are tons of things to be thankful for that you didn’t even realize. If it makes you uncomfortable to do this practice in front of others, do it in the dorm or somewhere more private.

Journaling can seem overbearing and nonsensical, but it’s about how you interpret it. Writing for 15 minutes about the events that happened that day can be a huge stress relief. In some cases, it might even make you smile because of all the adventurous things you did that day when you stepped out of your comfort zone. Some people like the gym, some do not. If you do or you don’t, that’s fine. But taking a walk to clear your head can really help after that workload of essays you had to write. Exercising doesn’t have to be lifting weights for hours on end and having jelly legs the next day. Going for a walk or simply doing a few crunches can give you a sense of accomplishment and make you feel good.

I saved the best for last. Random acts of kindness have always been my favorite. It’s as simple as it sounds. Give a random person a compliment. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not. The fact is you just might have made their day. Random acts of kindness are only positive vibes given to others. It doesn’t cost anything, and it makes you and others happy. Sometimes knowing that you made someone smile can make you feel even better.

Take chances and make an effort to make your day, along with others’ memorable today and every day.

Email Angie Cipriano at angie.cipriano@cardinalpointsonline.com

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