simply-happy-amy-newmarkThere are lots of quirks in my life. Things I happen to do a little differently than most other people. One of them happens to involve my day to day schedule. Since most of my caregivers are college students, the majority of my life tends to revolve around the academic year. Not a bad thing. There is just an aspect of me that has never quite left my college days.

Between semesters, I usually have less access to caregivers because most of the people I employ spend their time off from classes catching up with their families. That is the way it should be. For me, fewer caregivers mean not as many events or appointments for several weeks. Just like my Christmas breaks back when I was a student myself.

I have used some of the down times I have had recently to do something I have been wanting to do for months. Amy Newmark, the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books recently wrote her first book. It is titled “Simply Happy: A Crash Course in Chicken Soup for the Soul Advice and Widom.”

Her marketing plan was nothing short of brilliant, in my opinion. To my recollection, she didn’t hire an expensive marketing firm to get the word out about her new book. Instead, she reached out to the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors, anyone who has had a story accepted in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book and asked them to write a review of it on their website or blog or in a podcast. I jumped at the chance.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have loved Chicken Soup for the Soul since Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen came out with the first book in 1994, long before some of my stories were ever published in later books. The concept has always settled well, deep within me. Stories that make you feel better and brighten your day a little. In this book, Ms. Newmark uses many stories from numerous “Chicken Soup” contributors to exemplify how her suggestions on how people might increase their happiness can be put into practice.

Some of Ms. Newmark’s suggestions are very practical, like what you can literally do in a spare minute of your day to clear some clutter and stop procrastinating (empty the top rack of the dishwasher or put away the suitcase from your trip last weekend.)

I may be paraphrasing here a bit, but she also says that making a habit of smiling at everyone makes the world a much kinder and gentler place. Along the same line, she talks about everyone having one or two “frenemys” that is, friends who are actually enemies, and how important it is to get those toxic people who drain you of resources out of your life.

There are all kinds of nuggets of wisdom like that throughout the book; some simple steps and some suggestions for changes in attitude or perception. All designed to put a little more joy in your life, and keep it there.

Perhaps the one I liked the best was a very simple concept that has been very difficult for me to do at various times. Expect good things to happen.

2016 has had more than its share of challenges. Don’t get me wrong, I would be the first to tell you that lots of good things have happened as well, but I have lost friends, struggled with caregivers, and been generally frustrated over more than a few situations this past year as well as being concerned about my future. On days when it all seems to get the best of me, I have been known to let myself give in to the negativity for a while. But that is where I stop. And I continue with what I have to do in a day when I am only back in “neutral.”

If I did my best to “expect the best” in every situation I am concerned about, literally having the mindset that good things are GOING TO HAPPEN all the time, then I bet a whole lot of my stress would dissipate. That is an interesting concept, isn’t it? I wonder how long it will take to make thinking positive instead of thinking negative an automatic habit? And how might my life change once I do that?

I think I might be ready to find out.

So, welcome 2017, I have some big plans for you. I know I want to do several things in my life differently.

But mostly I just want to be “Simply Happy.”