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Happiness is your 2023 resolution

Oliver Hedgepeth

As some of us celebrate Old Christmas on Jan. 6, many of you are creating a bunch of resolutions this week. Instead, let’s make 2023 different, special. Why? Because this pandemic’s impact on our time with others was unforgiveable. 

I’ve started a happiness journal. This journal is a time-forward memory of daily happiness.

This one journal is all that’s needed, not five or six. Each day lists my goals — real, attainable goals — goals to make me happy.

In this 2023 journal, I listed names of people to telephone. Is there someone you have not called for years? Write their names on a specific date this week and make the call. No excuses. Do it! You’ll find that you feel better, and they will too.

I recently received a text message from an old friend in Georgia who flew to Anchorage, Alaska, a few days ago just to go dog-sledding. Only they didn’t know what Elizabeth and I know about Alaska this time of year. The sun is up for only a very short time and it’s cold, very cold. And lastly, dogsled teams are not being hired out just yet. 

When you plan something, do your research. Make your goals a bit more real. Like driving up to our North Carolina mountains or driving to the cemetery where your great-greats are buried. Their angels will appreciate it, and you will find your smile.

Is there some project you’ve wanted to do? List it. I want to make cornbread. I have my mom’s old cast iron cornbread pan. She made great cornbread that didn’t stick to the pan. I’ve tried and failed. My cornbread was supposed to come out shaped like an ear of corn. It was just crumbles. 

This week, I’ll try again. I will not use that nonstick spray stuff. I will cook some bacon and save the bacon grease like Mom did. Then, I will brush the bacon grease, a lot of it, on that old cast iron pan. That is on my list to do Friday.

As for all those resolutions, well, think differently. Make a journal listing of things that really mean something to you. It can be much more rewarding in ways you never considered.

Remember how isolated you felt during the height of COVID? Now begin to re-invite your family or co-workers over for supper. We have only just experienced this during the past few weeks with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ask some new folks to come too, or to go out to dinner, and for no special reason.

Here’s another idea to move you back into circulation. List all those you know who died in the past few years. Do you remember when they died? Write it in that journal and call their wife or husband. Yes, call them on that date with the single reason of remembering funny things he or she used to do. Sound silly? Well, why not laugh? Or shed a tear. The point is to remember — and reconnect!

Look ahead to next year this time when 2024 is upon us. Think today while reading this column about what your memories will be if you make that journal entry list of daily happiness. 

There are smart folks who study this stuff. They say you will be happier next year, next week and tomorrow morning when you remember spending a few minutes on the phone with Aunt Virginia or if you surprise your wife or husband with a visit to a new restaurant.

Also, start your year off right by donating a few bucks to a charity you might have previously ignored, such as the Wilson Arts community or perhaps a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Record what they said that made them happy, and you.

Write down daily what to do, and then how happy it made you feel. You will have a year of happiness for 2023.

For now, sing along with “Auld Lang Syne” to remember 2022 fondly, no matter the day.

Oliver Hedgepeth, a native Wilsonian and professor of logistics, teaches online at American Military University. Email him at