Another year over and a new one begun. Ireland has taken a battering and we can be forgiven for approaching 2013 with trepidation. Words like "bailout", "austerity" and "unemployment" dominate the national vocabulary. But it's time for us to park the negativity and doom and gloom, and to take a brighter and bolder approach to our future – while acknowledging all the damage that has been done and mistakes that have been made.
As a nation, we need to stop talking ourselves down and have confidence in our ability to create a worthwhile future. I agree with President Michael D Higgins when he said in his Christmas and new year message that we have "much to be proud of, and much to build on". Despite all our problems, we can still look forward with hope and courage to realising some of our dreams.
Our economic condition does not define who we are. We might be bust, but we are talented, resilient, unique and, above all, survivors. Here are 13 reasons to be positive for 2013.
1. After five austerity budgets, we are 85pc of the way there in the adjustment we have to make under the terms of the bailout. And there is talk of the debt burden being eased by our troika masters in 2013. Bring it on!
2. It's official. Ireland will be one of the best places for a baby to be born in 2013. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, we are 12th for providing the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life, ahead of Germany, the United States, Britain and France. The quality-of-life index was based on 11 factors including wealth, crime, family life, trust in government and the stability of the economy.
3. We can look forward to a ballot-free year. There are no elections or referendums scheduled for 2013, so relax. They won't be coming knocking on our doors for at least another 12 months.
4. Tills were merrily jingling over the festive season with the best Christmas sales figures in five years, the strongest indication yet of a return of consumer confidence.
The trend is not expected to be a seasonal flash in the pan, either. A Retail Ireland Survey published this week shows that almost one-third of Irish companies feel their business will still be good in three months' time.
5. We have still retained our great sense of humour. Oliver Callan, Mario Rosenstock and Barry Murphy will continue to give us a chuckle in 2013 with their piercing humour and satire. No better men to ensure our leaders don't lose the run of themselves.
6. Austerity hasn't stopped the baby boom. Our population spurt is on course to continue in 2013, giving us the youngest age profile and the fewest dependent older people in the European Union.
7. The recession has spawned a thriving entrepreneurial spirit. Many who have lost their jobs have taken the brave step to go out on their own.
The food industry in particular is a shining star. New figures show that 2,200 people are starting a new business in Ireland every month, and most expect to export and become employers.
8. Ireland is still one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The EU Presidency, which starts today, and The Gathering 2013 will boost our tourist industry this year.
The recession has forced prices down – but the best of our tourist attractions are still free. Check out our great walks, cycle ways, top-class surfing and breath-taking scenery.
9. Emigration has brought a lot of pain to Irish families but in 2013 we should be proud that so many of our young people are making a huge impact around the world. Four talented Irish made the 'Forbes' "30 under 30" list in December – tech entrepreneur brothers Patrick (24) and John (22) Collison, programmer James Whelton (20) and advertising expert Jonathan Cloonan (27). They are in good company alongside Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and singing sensation Justin Bieber. What super flag-bearers these people are for Ireland going into the new year.
10. Ireland is a gateway to the world and will continue to attract some of the most successful businesses from around the globe thanks to our low corporation tax rate, highly educated workforce and great quality of life.
Google, Facebook and Twitter are among top technology companies to have their European headquarters in Ireland, and are employing thousands.
11. We have a music and arts tradition that – far from being discouraged by economic adversity – is blossoming. Watch out in 2013 for emerging talent including writers Claire Kilroy, Niamh Boyce and Donal Ryan. The BBC Sounds of 2013 Long List includes Irish bands Little Green Cards and Kodaline. And love 'em or hate 'em, Jedward won't be going away.
12. Broke and all as we are, our giving nature and generous spirit continues to thrive. We have not forgotten that there are millions of people around the world much worse off than us. The World Giving Index for 2012 found Ireland to be the most charitable country in Europe, and the second most charitable country in the world, behind Australia.
13. After a run of yucky, wet summers, we are due a good one this year. Stock up on sun tan lotion.