Happiness: Three Tips for Boosting Cheer in the New Year


“Getting to happy” is the theme of 2017. Every time I check social media or retro-media—the newspaper, another article about how to choose happiness or avoid negativity crops up in my scan for quick news bits.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying good riddance to 2016. We had a lot of icky and odd home and car repairs. Stuff that NEVER happens but it all did last year. Then throw in the biggest mud-slinging election of all time and its no wonder my swims in the pool or spins on the bike are not cutting through the gloom.

The articles I found are all about choosing happiness. It is a choice.  The more we look at the upside, the easier it gets and the happier we are, at least it works for me. I have a habit of keeping a daily grateful list, even the tiniest thing. “I slept through the night,” a big deal these days. Or “I got a parking spot during primo hours at Trader Joes.” Somehow documenting makes the day seem better.

Perhaps the good cancels out the bad parts like the time I stepped in dog dooh-dooh and didn’t realize it until three minutes in to my car ride, “My car smells TERRIBLE!”

I told my family I was so proud of myself because I didn’t cry or get mad.  They thought that was funny. Three people were happy all at once, a stinky event that could have easily turned stinkier.

If you are like me, I can only do so much on my own and then I pick up an idea or article to enhance my ability to choose happiness. Below are a few standouts for me.

My favorite idea so far is a Danish practice called “Hygge,” as described in the January 1st, NYTs. The word literally means “cozy” and its taken Britain by storm. The Brits needed a shot of happiness after a rough summer. So it’s only a matter of time before the craze hits an equally glum United States. A book is expected in February! What timing!

I look forward to lying around in hand-knit socks by the fire, holding a wooden bowl of stew, surrounded by candles while watching a movie. It’s supposed to be a scary film but I cannot do it. My family teases me, “Mom! It’s not real!”

Buying happiness, this one always gets me. Basically it’s proof that spending money on someone else will bring you more happiness than spending it on yourself. Heck, you don’t even have to spend a dime: Donate an old coat to the underserved or volunteer at a park clean-up. I know a handful of people who bought warm blankets and dropped them off at homeless encampments.

Meaningfulness is better than happiness. This one is tough but it’s another way to help you appreciate the tough times and turn them into a positive. Raising kids is rough, rough, rough. But, my kids bring meaning and purpose to my life. My heart feels pretty full when everyone is home, except when they don’t do the dishes.

May you choose happiness this New Year.

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Christmas Lights Obsession: A Mom Doing A Dad’s Job.

  I did it again. I, put up the Christmas lights on the house. But this time, it was All. BY. MYSELF. Holiday 2016 was already proving insane and it was only December 1st. If I didn’t take on the task of hanging Christmas lights myself, it would never happen. The weekends were jammed. So,…

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Thanksgiving Message: Be the food.

  My hope for this Thanksgiving: Americans become like the food the holiday represents. I’m pretty sure at most Thanksgiving meals, there are dishes people like and dishes people don’t like, yet all the food is welcome at the table. Nobody would dare put up a “fuss,” as my mother would say. In my childhood…

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12 Ways to Get Happy During a Crazy Election

Let’s get happy. I just can’t take the media frenzy any more so I’m going on a happy diet. I’m not going to eat cookies or a pile of pizza, although those things make me really happy in the moment. Then my jeans are too tight and I’m unhappy. Stop reading about you know who,…

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5 Things I Learned Hosting a Garage Sale

  Garage Sales are a lot of work.  I knew that going in but decided freeing up the space in my garage was worth the effort. I was tired of opening up my car door into a box of something I clearly didn’t need as it had been sitting there for four years. At least…

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The Superwoman in My Hometown

  My hometown is host to a superwoman. Many locals sip her steamy cappuccinos or me, soy lattes with her sweet barista stamp: a heart swirled into the milky froth. Most of us in town had no idea the owner of Café Papillon was a heroine in her home country of Cambodia, saving her family from…

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Music: What the World Needs Now.

Something is burning inside of me. I bet something is burning inside of you too. Crazy, crazy acts in our country and around the globe are making us feel as though we are living multiple decades all at once: wars, riots, twisted politics, discrimination. Times I only knew through school or movies and made me…

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Italy Highlights 2016

For two weeks, my family traveled across Italy experiencing to-die-for wine and food, breathtaking views, impressive architecture and art, and a people so friendly we wanted to convert. ROME We started in Rome/Pompei. Hired guides educated us on the Vatican and Roman sights. Our heads were stuffed with historical facts, enough to last a lifetime….

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Pope Francis at Vatican City and Me

At last, I finally got to see my favorite celebrity in person: Pope Fran! He was on his own turf, right in Vatican City. I wish I could say we sat down with a nice cappuccino. Instead, it was just myself, my family and 30K other crazy Pope Fran fans from all over the world.  …

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New Stress Release: Coloring Books

“I feel like a kid again,” says anyone doing something they haven’t done in years. Eating cotton candy, riding a skateboard, watching the movie Cinderella. There is something about doing “kid” things that brings back fond memories of a worry-free life. Playing games with your kids or watching a Disney movie gives you permission to…

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