Despite the number of dark winter days still ahead, I feel a sense of revival this new year. Yes, we are all struggling to keep our homes, jobs, and heads above water, but 2008 also offered us some wonderful highlights that I will carry with me into 2009.
We watched the world come together in one of the most spectacular Olympics I have ever seen. We all came together as a nation, saying 'we've had enough!" and elected an amazing man as president. We ALMOST made a woman president. We went "green" and started paying attention to how much we are wasting every day. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of NASA, and a baby gorilla was born at the Israel zoo.
And the best news of all? We all have the power to be happy this year, whether we were in 2008 or not.
A close friend of mine recently had a huge blow-up with a family member and afterwards declared to me that the argument may have helped their relationship because the family member now knew what "really pushed [his] buttons." Well, yes...but does that mean the family member was responsible for my friend's explosive reaction? Of course not. What my friend was missing (or denying) was that ultimately, HE is responsible for CHOOSING how to react. Every day we wake up with this choice. I'm not saying some days aren't easier than others, and I can be just as guilty as the next person for blaming the "stupid slippery coffee cup" for me dropping the cup on the floor. And in fact, this is healthy to a degree. If we were to blame ourselves so easily we would all surely start to get down on ourselves. We need to blame others to simply protect our own egos. However, do this too much and while you may have some momentary relief, in the long run your denial will catch up to you and cause you even greater pain. Not to mention you will alienate a lot of people in the process.
I say all this to instill hope for the future, and to encourage you to CHOOSE to be HAPPY this year. When you start to get down about the fact that you can't go out to dinner as often, think about how you are actually helping your waistline. When you start to get down about the fact that your husband yelled at you, pat yourself on the back for not reacting harshly but still express how you feel. When you get upset that the schools had to cut your child's after school program, grab a soccer ball and go kick it around with him.
In fact, the latest psychological studies have found that the feeling of happiness is not related to outside circumstances or turning points of one's life. This means that prosperity, marriage or health do not determine our subjective well being. This is great news for everyone. No matter what life throws at you, you can always choose to be happy.
We always have a choice. I choose to be happy. I choose to be healthy. I choose to help others. I choose to love myself. I choose to be excited and invigorated about 2009.
Happy New Year Everyone!