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You say you want a resolution....

In preparation for my recent respite from the daily grind, I went in search of reading material.  This is not the time to tackle War and Peace or to catch up on the latest in my professional journals.  I needed some easy reading. 

Well, what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Be Happier This Year...in 9 easy steps.

SOLD.  

Now that I've read the articles, I'm ready to go sit on top of a mountain and dispense sage advice to wondering and wandering seekers of truth. 

All snark aside, I was intrigued by the title subject.  Now, I not only have some insight into the concept of "happiness" but I also have a recipe for sweet potato veggie-chili that sounds super yummy.  I'd say I (at the very least) got my money's worth.

As we head towards a new year, everyone is talking about Resolutions. Why do we set New Year's Resolutions if not to pursue some ideal that will make us, in the end, happier.  That's really the goal, right?  The commercial airwaves are currently flooded with products or services that will help us lose weight, look prettier, find the perfect mate, make more money, save the money we make more effectively, re-organize and re-decorate our home, simplify our lives, and in every other way make us more appealing to everyone else on the planet. 

If you google search for happiness, you get 224 million results!  There are entire websites, self-help industries, and sections of the bookstore devoted to this concept.  Something tells me that nobody has really figured it out.  If you were looking to this blog for an answer, you're SOL.   

Here is what I do know:
  • Happiness is like World Peace and Easy Weight Loss**: Everyone wants it.  Many claim to have found the solution. Few are ever truly successful.  (**results not typical)
  • More money alone doesn't make you happier.  Psychologist David Myers did a study where he found no positive correlation between income and happiness.  In fact, once your income shot over $75K, there was actually a point of diminishing returns.
  • Beauty, celebrity, and status doesn't make you happier.  Exhibit A: Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Anna Nicole Smith (to name a few).
  • Happiness is incredibly personal and individual.  This explains the existence of reality television, $2000 shoes and handbags, and Kenny G.
  • Happiness is both relative and fleeting.  It sometimes increasing when fleeing your relatives (but that's another story). 
Over the last two years, my concept of happiness has certainly changed.  My priorities have shifted.  Sometimes I think the bar is set incredibly low.  Chocolate.  Wine.  Favorite Movie.  Happy. 

Other times, I think that I now expect more out of life.  I still want to do it all and I'm frustrated by constraints of time, money, and energy.  I hear another person complaining about a seemingly trivial matter and I think, "Really? That's your concern? Come sit next to me and I'll tell you a story." 

Maybe there is no bar for expectations. (there is no spoon...)  In fact, if the last two years have taught me anything, it is to take each moment one step at a time, to set realistic goals, and then to celebrate when those goals reach fruition.  It's not that I don't make plans.  I just realize that if those plans change somewhere along the way, I'm going to try to go with the flow.  Then I will celebrate the good in whatever form it takes (big or small). 

I have rarely (if ever) made New Year's Resolutions but I do make it a habit to set goals for myself.  I have set my goals for 2011.  I have written them down in a place where I can see them.  I made sure they are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Realistic within a given Time Frame). 

I can pretty much guarantee that something on the list will remain undone at this time next year.  With any luck, I will be here for another year to keep it on the list. 

Sometimes it really is about the Pursuit and not the Happiness itself.
What will make you happy in 2011?  

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