How are you beginning your New Year? Are you energized, forward-looking, and excited? Do you have plans and goals and new ideas? Or are you dragging yourself into 2018 still glancing backward, filled with negative thoughts or regrets, perhaps even feeling some dread? Does it matter? You don’t really have any control, do you?
You’ve heard all of the clichés—what you send out into the universe is what comes back; God helps those who help themselves; People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Wait. Maybe that last one isn’t simply a cliché. While it is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, most therapists would tell you that your happiness actually does depend on you, not on someone else. Does that mean that your unhappiness also depends on you?
The origin of the word “unhappy” comes from Middle English of the era 1250-1300. It meant causing misfortune. While the modern day definition differs, the idea of causing your own unhappiness (or misfortune) is well worth considering. How can this be avoided?
First, if you only make one resolution this year, make it about happiness. Promise yourself that you will be more aware of your happiness/unhappiness choices. Take a few moments each morning to remember what you are grateful for and what you have to be happy about. Review the day ahead and consider what will add to your happiness quotient. Remind yourself not to give away your power to choose happiness to someone else. Don’t create your own misfortune.
We know that we can’t control the behavior of other people, only our response to them, so as you go through your day, try to surround yourself with others who are positive and who will help you maintain your spirit, not drag you down. As much as you can, avoid colleagues who are stress carriers and happiness constrainers. And when you leave work for the day, put away those work-related problems, concerns, and disagreements. By doing so, you allow happiness to return to your pre-work level.
You will face many choices in the coming year. Few will be as important as your choices surrounding happiness.