If you yearn for your younger days, old times, all the fun you had, you might remember being happy in the past.
If you plan for tomorrow, next year, the weekend, you can anticipate happy times that might happen in your future.
If you look around you right now and find something to smile about–the smell of coffee, the grace of a leafless tree in the sunrise, a pile of snow that the sun will melt, a goofy dog, a kid on a sled, chocolate, the dishes you will not wash because the couch feels so good–you can be happy now.
While driving, instead of hurrying and feeling late, sing along with the radio or listen to the news. Don’t ride the bumper of the car ahead. Get your hand off that horn. Don’t be the cause of someone else’s unhappiness. That’ll never really give you happiness. And anyway, the flow of time is not under our control. Being on time will not improve your life. Relax and just get there when you can. (You, too, my students. Sneak in the back of the huge lecture hall and I’ll just be glad you made it.)
Nostalgia and anticipation help round out your life, but try to pay attention to today. Right now, if you aren’t sick, feel healthy. If you aren’t sad, feel happy-ish. If it is noisy, listen. If it is quiet, relax. Change what you can. Complain only to vent and reduce your own blood pressure, but not in public, and never to hurt someone. Blame no one for your choices. If the people in your life make you feel bad, sad, or guilty about being yourself, shed them (or minimize contact) and find new people. Maybe get a dog. If you evaluate your life and find no happiness, do something to fix it.
Instead of wishing a happy new year, I hope we can all find a way to minimize the heaps of unhappiness in our own lives and all around us. Be nice. Nap. Read. Walk alone. Turn off the news for an hour and have a cup of tea under a blanket. Give blood. Smile. Do a favor. Call a friend. Fix what you can.