The Year of Deep, Unshakable Happiness

The first of January has sometimes felt to me like an arbitrary date to divide our lives by, since most of our projects and phases don’t conform to the calendar year. But I’ve decided it’s as good a time as any to make resolutions, and perhaps there’s some group momentum we generate when we all align ourselves around virtuous intentions together.

Maybe you’re familiar with the concept of “drafting” or “slipstreaming,” whereby someone in a vehicle can ride in the wake of moving air or water created by a vehicle in front of them. It reduces resistance and helps pull them along, making for an easier ride. Cyclists and racecar drivers do it all the time – drafting the bike or car in front of them by staying right behind them. The only one who doesn’t benefit much from it is the vehicle in the front. In the case of our New Year’s resolutions, we’ll all be drafting a guy named Barry who lives in Hoboken and is really jazzed about his new diet.

So, let’s take the opportunity to consider what we want 2017 to be about. My friend Andy Drish chooses a theme for each year at its outset, and he says the year has a way of conforming to the vision he establishes. When he looks back, it’s impressive to see just how many things seemed to fall into place along the lines of the year’s theme.

Some of his past themes included The Year of Exponential Growth, The Year of Being a Man Who Fearlessly and Courageously Gives His Gifts to the World, and The Year of Self Love. I think this is a brilliant idea, and I recommend you choose a theme for 2017 right now, and write it down. For me, this is The Year of Deep, Unshakable Happiness.

If you feel especially inspired, you can even choose a theme for each month, such as The Month of Serving My Species, The Month of Learning to Ask for What I Want, and The Month of Letting Go of the Struggle. If you’re the kind of person who thrives on structure, this can really help keep you on track while supporting you to focus on several different areas of growth. Each month could be a sub-theme that supports the year’s overarching theme. If coming up with twelve more themes sounds too complicated, just stick to your one theme of the year.

Once you have settled on a theme (or a yearlong theme plus twelve monthly themes), get a piece of paper and jot down some things you could do to support the actualization of this theme. It’s not so important that these actions directly produce the condition stated in your theme. Just think of them as the supportive part of the contract you’re creating with yourself and the universe.

To use my own theme as an example, even though there’s no formula for being happy, there are certainly a handful of things that can help. My intention for the year is to tap into that happy-for-no-reason state of mind that isn’t dependent upon particular life circumstances. To support the actualization of this state, I’ve agreed to do a bunch of things that I know are good for me, such as meditating, eating well, exercising, spending more time with friends, going on more dates with my wife, journaling, and abstaining from complaining or criticizing.

I set parameters around each of these actions (once a day, once a week, once a month, etc.), and I know that as I keep these agreements, I reinforce my trust in myself. Virtually everything I say I’m going to do gets done, because I know my subconscious is watching, and because, well, keeping your word matters – even (perhaps especially) if it’s just with yourself. Another thing that happens when I’m conscientious about noticing the agreements I make and being sure to keep them is that my mind becomes easier to manage. I don’t have the mental burden of broken or forgotten agreements weighing on me.

The result of this consistency is that a kind of momentum develops – my own slipstream. And when I’m in this groove, I notice that magic happens.

Try it. It doesn’t require talent, excessively effort, or charisma. Just choose a theme, make some supportive agreements – nothing that exceeds what you know you can follow through on – choose parameters (frequency, time period), and then honestly keep these agreements.

This year, I know more people who are consciously engaging in a process like this than I’ve ever known before. I’m excited to see what we accomplish. If you feel so moved, please share the theme of your year in the comments section below.

Be well,

Dr. Peter Borten

15 thoughts on “The Year of Deep, Unshakable Happiness

  1. I did not necessarily set a theme for the year as a mind set: Magical Thinking leads to Magical Opportunities…but I have to say I really like the idea of sub-setting themes per month, maybe none if the month is moving easily along…
    This month;s subset (so that I can train my brain and subconcious) is the The Month to Set my daily self care rituals in place.
    Great Article

    1. Thanks, Miriam. Wishing you lots of magical opportunities.

  2. I love this idea! I’m going with the first thing that came to my mind: The Year of Prosperity and Joy! As soon as the thought came into my mind, I had a feeling of light washing over me. Monday, January 2 was a holiday for me and I used it to take down Christmas decorations. In the past, I have used that time to sort of “bury” the old year by playing (and singing with) Mozart’s “Requiem,” a beautiful work that can be somewhat dark. But this year, I felt something different was needed and I played Faure’s “Requiem,” which is a much lighter and lyrical piece. The morning was a stormy one, but when I was finishing up putting the decorations away, the last number played — “In Paradisum” — and the sun came out! It’s going to be a wonderful year! Blessings on you and yours for the coming year!

    1. Thanks, Robin. I love Mozart’s Requiem and I’ll check out Faure’s now! Be well.

  3. For me, I might do this in quarters, rather than the year. And this is the quarter of Instilling Peace and Order. I have had a tumultuous last 15-16 years, with both parents (and 2 dogs) passing, work changes, relationship changes, etc. So my home has become a repository of the debris of those changes. Instilling VISUAL peace and order is a process of decluttering. Instilling INNER peace and order is a process of clarifying values and enacting them.

    1. Great idea. I hope this is a peaceful and orderly quarter, leading to a peaceful and orderly life.

  4. BUYEAH!
    Yes, happy for no reason! backed up with simple things to activate the happy!

    1. Thanks, Andy! Who needs a reason?!

  5. My theme for this year is self care and gratitude!

    My contract to my self – is daily movement, gratitude for small things and nourishing my self with friends, family and my spouse.

    1. Thanks, Susan. Sounds like a great theme! Happy new year.

  6. I had decided that my theme for 2017 will be:

    The year of love and gratitude…for God, myself, others and the world.

    1. That’s a wonderful theme. I can only imagine the good things in your life will grow by loving and being grateful for them.

  7. 2017 The year of true forgiveness

    1. Amen.

  8. Great article. Thanks for sharing. I think the theme for this month is Manifesting my Heart’s Desire. (I like the idea of a theme for each month.) I’m going to start out on this Full moon, by making prayer ties to hang in the living room where I can see them, and at month’s end I will burn them in a fire in my fireplace (baby it’s too COLD outside right now!!) to aid them in their fruition. I look forward to seeing what I manifest this month!

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