Happiness

You may think this odd, but I have made only one New Year’s resolution.  Not that making only one resolution is odd… but you may think the nature of my one resolution is peculiar.  This year I have resolved to be happy. 

 That’s right.  Happy – every day!

 You may think, “How can you make that a resolution?  Aren’t there a lot of factors involved beyond your control that determines your happiness?”

 Well, I would have to agree with you.  Yes, there are many factors that contribute to my happiness – anyone’s happiness.  My health is a factor.  My financial situation is a factor.  My wife is a factor!  In fact, there are a thousand things that affect my state of mind and many of them are out of my control.

 You may also think, “Wouldn’t it be better to resolve to lose weight, or make more money, or do something that can be measured?” 

 Yeah, I plan to do a number of things to improve my lot in life.  Losing some weight would be a good thing, and more money is always welcome.  But these things aren’t necessarily going to make me happy.  I have simply made the resolution to be happy.

 So how, you may wonder, am I going to resolve to remain happy in 2011?

 The American Bill of Rights guarantees for each and every one of its citizens the right to the “pursuit of happiness.”  Almost as if happiness is out there, somewhere, and we’re encouraged to go out and find it. 

 We’ve been taught that we need an education.  Why?  So we can get a good job.  Why?  So we can make lots of money.  Why?  So we will feel secure.  Why?  So we can be happy!

 But our attempts to find happiness and fulfillment are often unfruitful and illusive – like trying to catch a butterfly.  As soon as you think you’ve got it, it eludes your grasp and escapes.  You set goals and make resolutions to start this or stop that… and before the end of the day you’ve missed the mark altogether.  And so you blame it on your circumstances, and your boss, and your friends, and the time of year…

 But putting the blame on other people won’t help solve your problem or change your circumstances.  It’s not about laying blame.  There is no one at fault.  And besides, the word ‘blame’ is very disempowering – it keeps us stuck.

 It’s really about taking responsibility for your life.  “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”  And it’s about making the decision to be happy no matter what the outcome.  

 The only thing you can control is your attitude – the thoughts you think.  You can choose to be angry and resentful for your lot in life.  Or you can choose to be thankful and grateful for what you’ve been given.  The choice is always up to you. 

 And happiness is certainly within your grasp because happiness is a choice.  May you choose to be truly happy in the coming year!