My Best New Year’s Resolution Yet

To be fair, a lot of my previous resolutions have been half-hearted, born of the need to answer someone else’s question about what I was striving for in the year ahead. So I was surprised when yesterday, out of nowhere, I knew exactly what it was that I would resolve to do in the coming months.

I am going to wake up every day and decide that I am in a good mood.

true voice 9I see no reason why I can’t do this. I decide that I’m in a bad mood lots of times. It is true that I always have a reason. My foot hurts or I have a dentist appointment or I have to finish a task I hate or whatever. The reasons to feel sort of pissy are endless. However, there is no question I have as many reasons to be irrationally cheerful. Some might even argue that I have more, and that the joy I plan to acknowledge is quite rational instead.

Either way, I’m going to do it.

It would be nice to take credit for this brilliant idea, but I can’t. I’ve read lots of places that being in a good mood was the best thing  you could ever do for yourself, although I have no idea why the message picked yesterday to randomly sink in.

Today I became a little curious about who in the world had given me this gentle push towards good cheer. So I did what everyone does who wants to know something. A quick internet search showed many variations on this piece of wisdom, but I found only one original attribution.

The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood. Voltaire

VoltaireInteresting. You know, I have heard of Voltaire (haven’t we all?) but after reading his quote I realized that I do not know the first thing about him. Or at least I didn’t. Good old Wikipedia just informed me that that François-Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778), who was known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.

In the 1700’s. Wow. He sounds like a quite a guy. I’m all for freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state and I think the world can’t have too many witty writers with flowing long hair.

So, this will be my year of Voltaire. Among his few works of fiction is “Micromégas,” a science fiction short story written in 1752 about aliens visiting earth. That is something I have got to see. I’ll read that soon, and I’ll make every effort to heed his wisdom for the next 366 days. I doubt that I’ll be more than a little  successful, because my grumpy habits are pretty well ingrained. But you know what? Even if I only manage to do this 10% of the time, that means I’m going to have 36 days next year that were better than they could have been. Thirty six whole days.

Is this the best New Year’s resolution ever, or what?

For more year end fun see some of the oddest predictions for 2016, read about whether it is an honor to be person of the year,  take a look at the top women of 2016 and catch 2016 plans for world peace.

Happy yet? Yes, I believe that I am.

Today is Christmas, a day in which much of the western world wishes each other joy. We do this while congregating together for hours on end while eating too much, often drinking too much and sometimes setting unrealistic expectations about gifts, camaraderie and good cheer.

mind unleashed 1It was in the midst of such a Christmas day today, with my second Kentucky Mule in hand, my signature dish boiling over on the stove and a pile of dirty dishes that would daunt a restaurant staff in front of me, that I realized I was happy.

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a blinding revelation. I’m generally content, and I understand that I’ve been blessed with too many blessings to count. It was just one of those moments when one realizes that these are the good times. My family is here and healthy. A new boyfriend, included today as a first time guest, is not only pleasant, but he’s a great cook. Our problems are tiny, our love is big, and all the little hassles of the day are just that. They don’t matter.

sungazing6It’s true that drama makes for a more memorable holiday.  We all remember the Christmas when Aunt Dorothy …. Whether we laugh or still wince about that memory is up to us. Today left us with little to remark upon in later years, because great food and kind remarks don’t make huge inroads into your recollections. They just describe a day that goes well.

The happy realization came when it occurred to me that someday, maybe in the far future, when I am searching my memories for the times that were really good, this will be one of them.

Three years ago I wrote a blog post called Happy Now? I started with this:

When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wrote down happy.
They told me I didn’t understand the assignment,
I told them they didn’t understand life.
—  author unknown

(Voted #6 in the list of best happiness quotes ever over at The Board of Wisdom. Check them out here)

I still think it is a great quote, and I’m inclined to agree with the author. And you know what? I’m all grown up now and it looks like today, I got to be want I wanted.


Read my original post Happy Now? written after the 2012 holidays.

Saving the chance to save the world

approvedTwenty or so minutes ago the final draft of the climate change agreement reached in Paris was adopted by the envoys from 195 nations. The news was greeted with a standing ovation. Delegates cheered and hugged each other, happy to have achieved more than any of the previous such conferences that have been held over the past two decades.

Predictably, not everyone else cheered. Protesters in the streets of Paris claimed that the agreement didn’t go far enough, and many global environmental organizations echoed the sentiment. Concern was expressed that the burden of achieving the goals was not fairly distributed. Meanwhile, those who deny climate change even exists began complaining almost immediately about the financial implications. In the U.S., conservative politicians were quick to promise to fight U.S. compliance.

It’s a scary, cantankerous world out there. I am personally amazed that 195 nations could come together and agree on lunch plans, much less agree to commit to keeping the rise in the planets temperature to less than two degrees Celsius. I believe that this is an amazingly hopeful moment for us as a species.

Word has it that one of the major reasons negotiators were able to reach a deal at all was that this time around much of the work was done in advance. Quiet armies of researches and politicians began laying the groundwork for this a year ago, after COP20 in Lima Peru. I happen to know one of these researches, and have followed his journey over the last year as he and many of his colleagues have each played their small roles in making history as they worked hard behind the scenes to bring science and policy together in a positive way.

My own interest in climate change grew when I wrote the book y1, and learned about the effects of rising sea level on the island nations I was writing about. With a background in geology I understand quite well how the earth shifts over time. I also understand the difference between the natural and slow moving processes of the earth, and the unpredictably dangerous rapid changes introduced by the human race. Because of this, I pledged ten percent of my proceeds from y1 to the World Resources Institute, a group fighting to secure a sustainable future for our species. I was pleased to read that Jennifer Morgan, of the World Resources Institute commented that if the Paris Agreement was adopted “then countries [will] have united around a historic agreement that marks a turning point in the climate crisis.”

bolder3So congratulations to the delegates, politicians, and many concerned humans who worked so hard to make the adoption of this agreement happen. Have they collectively saved the world? I don’t think anyone believes that. My favorite quote is from Bill McKibben, the co-founder of the environmentalist group He said of the agreement “This didn’t save the planet, but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”

Times being what they are, I’m happy with that.

(Thanks to Growing Bolder for the quote above.)