What Constitutes a Happy New Year?

My newsfeeds are filled with wishes for the new year, blog posts and articles on how to claim happiness, commiserations over what appears to have been a pretty horrible 2018 for many, and endless recipes on how to be “happy” in 2019.

Many are clichés, most are variations on the same theme, and no doubt, all come with good intentions. The world teaches us that it’s up to us to make our own happiness, that whatever we put out into the world will be returned at the very least, and that each of us has as much control over our lives as we want to.

At the same time my newsfeeds, through 2018, have also been littered with trauma, sorrow, sadness, frustration, pain, and loss, from people who are good, kind, giving, loving, hard-working and self-sacrificing.

What’s clear is that the world isn’t fair. We rarely get what we wish for and when we do it might not be the best thing for us.

For me, 2018 was hard! It wasn’t anything I expected. It was harder but better, exhausting beyond measure but so filled with blessings I find it selfish to complain about all the hard stuff. But I also felt like I I’d been hit by a truck, and woke up on the last day of 2018 feeling as though I have so little control over my life and that it’s a complete zoo.

So I threw off the covers, had a big moan to a dear friend, deleted it, then pulled on my big girl pants, wrote a few lists, took my daughter-in-law out for morning tea and a bit of a shop, shook the cobwebs out my head, chatted with God (prayed), made some major decisions, straightened out my priorities, rearranged my 2019 calendar completely, and by mid afternoon I was doing something I haven’t done in years; put my feet up with a paperback book, and actually laughed out loud – a lot!

It was marvellous! Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? It was New Year’s Eve, so I read some more, we saw all the family, we moved our bedding to the pull out couch (where the sun wouldn’t wake us up at 5am any more), watched the Sydney fire works at our 9pm, and climbed into bed feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

But the neighbours had other ideas. They threw open their doors and windows, cranked the sound up to full blast, screeched at each other over the music, and played “Simon Says” till five in the morning.

It wasn’t just loud, it was deafening, and the stop/start of the music constantly jolted our bodies the moment we thought we could cope. We even tried just enjoying the music, but none of it was consistent and I don’t think they played a whole song all night. I’d treated myself to a sleeping tablet so while I was never asleep neither was I ever quite awake either. It was mind numbingly dreadful!

And a huge reminder that we have such little control over our lives that I wonder why I bother sometimes.

It’s not to say we have no control. Buying Daisy and riding a hundred and sixty kilometres this week alone, and being careful what I eat means that since mid December I’ve lost the pounds that Bertha (the bitch of a damaged hip) put on over July, August and September. And my New Years resolution for 2019 is to lose the weight put on since Frank (my damaged foot), do all the personal work we’d committed to doing post “retirement”, as well as publish three books, ride the Danube and ride across Belgium, and more…

BUT…. and here’s the really important bit; the control isn’t all mine. We live in a broken, damaged, Godless world, and so much is beyond my control. So in 2019 I also plan to build in way more buffer zones, to bring back more of the self care, to join the library again and read more books! To fly overseas way less, …but stay longer, breathe slower, to stand back more, to let others make their own mistakes. To shed the weight but also the burdens that were never mine to carry.

To take time to cherish more, eat better, and prepare for our second half of adult life in the ways we said we would. I’m sure that none of these things will bring any happiness as such, and that no matter how planful and careful we are in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll have no more control of those things around us than we did in 2019. But maybe we’ll get to accomplish more of the truly important things we’ve set out to conquer? Maybe we’ll have a little more sleep through the process? And hopefully we’ll be setting ourselves up better for all the journeys ahead of us.

What would a “happy” 2019 look like for you?

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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@JPeaSmith

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