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This article was originally published in the Health and Healing Magazine in Fredericksburg, VA

As we begin a fresh new year, many of us make  resolutions, hoping for a happier and more satisfying life.  These resolutions usually include commitments for changing unwanted behaviors or for adopting new ones.  For most of us, adding these commitments to an already packed lifestyle, becomes our first challenge.  Very often they require some physical effort and activity. How can I work out more, loose extra weight, eat healthier, get along with my boss, etc?  Although positive in nature, many new year resolutions may carry unrealistic expectations, ending in increased guilt and even a sense of personal failure.
On the other hand successful accomplishments in the world can lift our spirits for a time. However, success will not bring us sustained happiness either. That doesn’t mean we should not reach for our goals. Sustained happiness is an internal decision and has little to do with external goal achievement, or life struggles.  Permanent happiness comes from a conscious decision made by us. A decision to cultivate a practice of choosing happiness in any given moment. We can choose it, regardless of what is showing up in our life.
It is helpful to learn how to cope with various challenges along the road.  Here too, our attitude can be an important asset. Burdens of any kind are eased when dealt with from a more joyful state of mind.  Indeed, research has substantiated,  that the inner creativity needed to handle many difficulties is enhanced when using a more positive mental approach.

Giving of oneself to others increases the flow of this positive mental energy. The giving and receiving of kindness creates a space within us for personal fulfillment.  A smile, a friendly word, a demonstration of compassion all keep us in the flow of love and joy.  As we decide to choose happiness daily, we begin to find ways to express (press out) the love from within us,  We are no longer living like a puppet on a string, controlled by events of the day.  We start to break free  of the entanglements of fear about the present and worry for the future.

“A COURSE IN MIRACLES”, a profound book of wisdom for our age reminds us,
If I am unhappy, I am looking at life through a filter of fear.

Investigate the fear that is creating your personal filter…
Release yourself from making happiness dependent upon anything outside of yourself.  If you wish, set new goals this year, but try to keep achievement realistic.  With kindness toward yourself, work to accomplish what you can. Then, resolve to allow  happiness to emerge from an inner decision to
choose to BE HAPPY now!