A Happier New Year

A Happier New Year

Posted on December 21, 2023

Some phrases in our lives get thrown around so often that they lose their meaning—at least, until we take a moment to really concentrate on the words themselves. “Happy New Year” is one of those phrases. Each year we toss it out to friends, family, and even strangers on the street. It’s a well-meaning phrase and usually sincere, even if it’s delivered off-hand.

The other phrase that’s common this time of year is “New Year’s Resolutions.” It’s become a cliché when someone makes resolutions with the best of intentions, but ends up falling short of achieving them long before the year ends.

With the seemingly never-ending turmoil going on across the globe, this might be the perfect time for each of us to make a resolution to focus on not simply having a happy new year, but actually being happy in the new year. It might sound like a subtle difference, but it could have a huge impact on your life.

Most of us understand that in many situations, happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, we often choose to put our own happiness lower on our priority list than other aspects of our lives. There are always going to be things that we don’t want to do, but have to, nonetheless. However, sometimes the choice to be happy takes nothing more than a small change in perspective.

Ever since I was young, I hated mowing the lawn. It seemed like such a waste of time. Every week, when it was time to pull the mower out, I would roll my eyes and complain silently (and sometimes not so silently) about having to do this menial chore again. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized my distaste for mowing the lawn would often put me in a bad mood for most of the day. That’s when I finally made a conscious effort to change my outlook and try to find something positive in the task.

I sold my gas lawnmower that would inevitably break down at least once a summer – often right about the time I was half-way done with the yard. Instead of buying a new gas mower, though, I picked up one of the old manual mowers with the spinning blades. To most rational people, making the dreaded task more difficult might not seem like a smart way to bring more happiness to my life. But that’s where my change in perspective came into play.

The first thing this did was make me feel better about lowering my carbon footprint by not using a gas mower (granted, it’s a very small step, but when you consider how many mowers are used on a daily basis across the country, it becomes a bigger issue than most of us imagine). The other benefit was that instead of feeling like I was wasting an hour of my life doing something I detested, I was now spending that hour getting some much-needed exercise. Just like that, mowing the lawn became productive. It was something I could feel good about, and that made me happy.

Finding happiness isn’t always as easy as that. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult, either. It’s amazing how quickly you can change your mood by just taking a moment to stop, close your eyes, breathe, and make yourself smile. And while you’re at it, don’t keep that smile to yourself. Share it. Especially with someone who might seem to need it. When you encounter someone who is rude, or short, or snippy, tell them to have a nice day. Maybe it will make them a little happier. Maybe it won’t. But it’s almost guaranteed to make you a little happier.

Resolve this year to look for one thing a day that brings joy into your life. Some days will undoubtedly be more difficult than others, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly you start finding happiness as you keep on looking for it. Before long, you won’t even have to search—happiness will begin to find you. And once that happens, it’s a safe bet that being happy in the new year will be a resolution that’s easy to keep.

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