People all over the world celebrate a new year, albeit at different times of the year. We need to have hope for improvement and growth in our lives. Imagine continually being in the same mindset and grind day after day, year after year. (Thinking like that is painfully depressing, isn’t it?)
Here’s how most of the world ends one year and begins another:
Most of the “western” world - January 1
A day off from work
Parties with friends
Resolutions to make the “new year” a better one
Chinese - every year between Jan. 21 - Feb. 21, depending on when the new moon of the first lunar month falls.
Traditional for every family to thoroughly clean the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.
Islamic - the Hijri New Year. It falls on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.
People use the day to make resolutions.
Thai - Songkran is celebrated from April 13-15 near the time of the vernal equinox.
Thais throw water at each other, symbolic in the hopes for good rains
It also symbolizes the washing away of all the old year's evils and the giving of new life
For the same reason, it’s common to release pet birds from their cages and to pour fish from their fishbowls into the river
All Buddha statues and images are cleansed for good luck and prosperity.
Ethiopian - Enkutatash, the "gift of jewels." In September, at the end of the big rains.
A very festive occasion, marked by dancing and singing across the green countryside, budding with spring flowers.
After attending church in the morning, families gather to share a traditional meal of injera (flat bread) and wat (stew).
Young girls donning new clothes, gather daisies and present friends with a bouquet, singing New Year’s songs.
Jewish - Rosh Hashana . At the end of summer, beginning of fall on the first two days of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar.
Crowning G-d as the King of the Universe
A time of deep introspection to seek forgiveness from G-d and man for spiritual, legal and personal transgressions over the past year
Resolutions to learn and improve in the year ahead
Each culture’s New Year aims to bring man to a more fulfilling, happier place.
From the way people celebrate the New Year you can see that the default position of people is to look forward to good and to be happy.
But we get blocked from the default position, and sometimes the blocks are difficult to remove. Things designed “to make us happy” (food, hugs, presents, a good time, stimulants, anti-depressants, etc.) may work in the moment, but they don’t last.
What lasts is removing the blocks. Even if the entire block can’t be removed all at once, chipping away at it uplifts a weary soul.
So celebrate your new year by doing something to at least chip away at what blocks you from feeling happy. Whether the block is
A worry or a fear
An unresolved challenge
An annoyance you feel about someone you care about
At home, at work, or at play
Target a change that would make you happy. (Remember, feeling happy, joyful, satisfied, fulfilled is your default position.)
Be realistic about what you can change. Motivational speakers and therapists recommend taking your first target and slicing it in half. They know that in our eagerness to be happy we desire “big” changes. They also know that it sometimes requires superhuman effort to achieve those big changes in the time frames we set for ourselves. So they say: “whatever your first target, slice it in half; and then slice it in half again.”
Success is a sure-fire way to feel happy. And lots of little successes build up, keep you motivated, and eventually can remove a block completely.
I’ve got two resolutions for this New Year:
- BE HAPPY!
- Have at least one new face-to-face, telephone or email exchange per week with a parent of a child with special needs (I may be aiming too high and may need to slice this target to “one per two weeks”. I’ll give it a month to see what I do. I spend most of my time at the computer writing, designing modules for parents to meet challenges raising their child with special needs, and preparing for public speaking events. I want more direct personal contact with my audience.)
- To be in touch with YOU face-to-face or voice-to-voice at least once before the next new year.
What will you do to feel happy in your New Year?
Share with me your resolutions and plans and let’s encourage each other to be successful.
Let’s go all out for happiness this year. We work so hard. We deserve it.
Have a meaningful, joyous and successful New Year.
by Eliya Stromberg, PhD
From outside Israel: 972-52-7639135