I have made this year about expressing gratitude and discovering happiness. This wasn’t really a planned thing, but I had been given a happiness journal last year that I only really half used and so I wanted to throw myself into that from the beginning of the year. I was also given a gratitude diary and thought that might be nice to do also. Then, on New Year’s morning, I suddenly remembered New Year’s resolutions and, since I hadn’t made any yet, I whipped one up.

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The Key to a Happy Life

My New Year’s resolution: to be braver, more courageous, less lazy, more responsible for myself, and happier.

Ok, so that’s big, right? And a little long and clunky! In essence, I think it boils down to: be grateful, be more responsible, be happier. I figure if I am being those things, then I am also being braver, more courageous and less lazy. Oh, and just to clarify, I am not a lazy person, but we all procrastinate at times and I just want to knock that on the head. Mostly I procrastinate over my own stuff – like being healthy or doing more of my own writing or housework. Thank goodness I have a partner who cleans. There! That’s my first bit of expressed gratitude – I am thankful for my partner who cleans more than I do! See? That’s not so hard.

So anyway, one month into the year and how have I travelled so far? Overall, I do feel more positive and I have found it really useful to identify the thing I am grateful for – it kind of makes you go below the surface of each day a little, it sets a tone, and helps you see things about yourself that you may not have otherwise noticed.

On the 1st of January I was totally excited about writing down the things I was grateful for, but initially I found that what I wrote down for were daily, almost mundane things, like being thankful for a nice hot cup of tea in the morning or for having a nice veranda to hang out on. So I tried to change tack a little and focused on other living creatures. Then I found I was grateful for the birds singing in the morning and the chorus of frogs I could hear bubbling up from the stream. These are all great things, don’t get me wrong, and noticing such things ensures we don’t take from granted the things we have around us, but I was hoping for more.

I narrowed my focus a little more to people, and this was quite a nice exercise. I got to touch base with all the reasons I was thankful for the various people in my life and that gave me a kind of loved and supported – warm, fuzzy – feeling. But then things go even more interesting. I began to think about how I give and receive, and here’s the thing…when I give something, whether that is a thing or my time or whatever, I give freely, without expecting anything in return. Yeah, yeah, I know, how good am I, blah, blah. It doesn’t make me a saint, perhaps it makes me a bit generous, but that’s it – it’s certainly nothing out of the ordinary. But then I looked at how I receive and saw that I do not receive in the same way that I give. I do not receive freely. When I receive there is a kind of holding back, a trepidation, a fear that I will somehow be indebted to the giver in ways that are not yet clear. This makes me a fearful and stingy receiver. I receive cautiously and the giver really has no idea how thankful I am – in fact, either do I because I supress this.

Now this is a pretty normal response really – many people receive in the same way. Have a think about it yourself and see how you give and receive. But having this kind of response to life is not what I want. I don’t want to stand in a place of fear, I do not want to withhold my thankfulness. So, going forward in the year, I chose to stand in a place of freedom, joy and thanks.

I am free, joyous and thankful!

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