Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Say Happy New Year and Mean It

I took a couple of weeks off to recover from a bad cold (the flu perhaps?) and to enjoy the holidays. Now it is a new year and I got to thinking about what we all mean when we wish one another a happy one.

Certainly happiness is the cardinal desire of all of us. We wish it for ourselves and probably harbor some hope that if we wish it for others, the goodwill will somehow influence the kind of year we will experience. These past couple of years have been tough on a lot of people. Sadly, I know too many who lost their jobs and/or their homes. In some cases, friends lost their parents and even their health. Many of us are connected in some way to the horrific losses suffered by those who went through Hurricane Sandy.  So when I wish folks a happy new year, I am really saying that I hope 2013 is a lot better than 2012.  You probably feel the same way.

A recent PBS program segment about happiness (Learn more about it here.) was on This Emotional Life and I happened to catch it while taking down the holiday decorations. The general consensus was that happiness is a choice. We can decide to be happier by concentrating on the good things.  Sound overly simplistic? Many think so however there is evidence that positive psychology can help improve emotional outlook. And when we are in a better place emotionally, we may be better equipped to deal with whatever Life throws at us.

The program spoke to people with real problems and examined their responses to their difficulties.  As their stories progressed, we saw the subjects gradually feel better about themselves and their circumstances by changing their focus from what was wrong in their lives to what was right. Through various means including counseling and forgiveness training, they moved through their grief or anger. This is not cure for cancer, although the patient said she felt emotional relief, but it might have helped one man find a job. No one wants to hire a grump.

So I am wishing you a happy new year and meaning every word of it.  May you find a long list of things to celebrate and may your 2013 be a very good year for you indeed.

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