Here we are, the end of another year. For most of us it’s a moment of reflection and an opportunity to start over or do-over those things that maybe didn’t meet our expectations. Resolutions and promises fill us with hope for something better.
My only resolution for 2013 is to make this the ‘Year of Happy’ which, honestly, has been my resolution for the past three years. 2012 hit the mark, despite life throwing what it did at us.
Around us tragedy struck our neighbors, our community and our nation. In our family, we worry over the medical diagnosis of a loved one and are holding to as much hope as we can muster for a positive outcome. Professionally, I managed the challenges often experienced by most freelancers looking for paid gigs in a market overflowing with freelancers looking for paid gigs.
But we also experienced the joy of a wedding, the birth of our nephew, new friendships, new partnerships, and new adventures. Because I have chosen to focus my thoughts and energy on these positive elements taking place in my life and not giving in to the sadness of those things I can’t control, I remain, for all that the 365 days have thrown at me, happy.
I think I was always meant to be a happy person. I’ve shared, here and there, very intimate tales of my childhood, from poverty to being taken from my mother, to being a single mom, to the death of my mother – but yet, even beyond the darkness of it all, I came out happy. But I have worked at it too. I had to – to not become a victim of others, to be present for my children, to have the strength to go on. I believe we all have the potential to be happy.
We can create excuses for why someone else is happier than ourselves. I have heard the rumors, I know what some people say about the reasons why I am happy. For some people I am happy because I have a husband who they think provides me with financial security, or because I don’t really have any physical or emotional or even psychological obstacles that make my life more challenging. To some it may seem, my being happy comes easy to me. But you never know what a person’s reality is or what their story has been, or what they had to go through or overcome to be where they are today. You can never dismiss or judge the potential of your own joy because of how you may assume others achieved theirs.
If you want to make 2013 your ‘Year of Happy’ as well, I have a few suggestions to help you get started. I recently watched, and recommend, the movie Happy. It’s a documentary which helps to break down the science behind happiness (in the same way in which sadness or depression is often examined) and provides a view of what happiness is and how is it achieved throughout the world. The copy of this film was provided to me by my friends over at Happify and I loved it and wanted to share it with you as well. Here are a few pointers I picked up from the film:
- Looking beyond money and material possessions. One of the most poignant messages evoked in the Happy movie is how money can’t buy you happiness. Though, the movie points out the difference between being homeless and not and going hungry and not can have a significant affect on our overall emotional and psychological well-being, having a significant amount of money or financial success isn’t a guarantee that you will be any happier than those who have less. The movie highlights several people from around the world and those who proved to be the happiest of them all were not the wealthiest, but had the strongest community and family ties, as well as living their personal dreams – not the ones society or anyone else set for them, but that which they felt most passionate about, regardless of financial gain, recognition or accolades.
- Do something novel. Most of us know that exercising and staying active helps to increase dopamine concentration in the brain and releases endorphins that act as a neurotransmitter which gives the body a sense of well-being and pleasure. But did you also know that doing something new, changing your routine has a similar affect? It can be as simple as taking a different route in your jogging path or as adventurous as traveling to new lands. Take on a hobby, stay active or travel somewhere new this year.
- Serve others. The most important thing that you can be is kind. The most important thing you can do is help others. I recently participated in #26Acts of kindness. But what I didn’t do was promote it or share my experience via my social media networks. I did this because in this day and age we often feel propelled to do things for attention and recognition. It’s an addictive, self-serving phenomenon. We often want to share to encourage others to also do the same, and though it’s true that witnessing others be kind serves to inspires more people to follow, it’s also easy to get distracted by the attention directed at you instead of at the cause. I wanted to reserve the emotions and experience for myself. I wanted to feel the raw satisfaction of what it is to be kind, even when no one is looking. The result was a private and overwhelming surge of joy that served to ground me, humble me, move me, and even bring me to tears. It helped me deal with the sadness I felt over recent tragedies such as Hurricane Sandy and the shooting at Sandy Hook. But because I told no one, I also had the silence and solitude I needed to process my thoughts and emotions in a way that made me feel more present and more in touch with my intentions. We all process our feelings differently. It matters little how you do it or that anyone knows, just that you make it a point each day to give kindness.
- Evoke a concentrated Flow, which is a state of completely focused motivation. It’s a sense of purpose, the commitment to fulfill personal goals. I recommend you check out the book by the same name, authored by Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in which he states, “During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.” It’s the satisfaction and drive behind the hours I take to walk around NYC or anywhere I may be traveling to photograph my surroundings or the hours I give myself to blog. Find that which nurtures your creative being, that belongs to only you, and it will take you closer to moments of joy each time.
Lastly, I am starting to read The Happiness Project this week and will be discussing it over at my book club discussion board at The Copia (disclosure: I have a paid partnership with them, though I am not compensated for anyone’s participation in the discussion boards). I invite you to join me. I will post a new topic every week starting Tuesday, January 1, 2013 and every Tuesday till the end of the month. I am reading the e-book and will post personal thoughts that you can also follow there.
This new year as you write out your resolutions, whatever they may be, there is no denying that the over-arching point of it all is to achieve happiness. For me, it’s a work in progress and I am grateful for everyday I wake up to it. It would be awesome if you would join me in this journey in making 2013 the Year of Happy for us all.
Happy New Year my friends!
This is not a sponsored post. I received no request to write this piece for anyone. The thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.