How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014

Horsey copyWhen I was around 4 years old, I was given a rocking horse with big springs that made it bounce jerkily up and down and side to side. I can still hear it in my mind, like bouncing on a squeaky pogo stick, that squealing horse galloped me into such exciting adventures. Sometimes, I would pretend we were racing through the countryside, leaping over fences and discovering golden fields of butterflies, sunshine and fairies to play with for the day. What a wonderful memory that fills me with such happiness.
As this year winds down, it is the good memories, the ones that bring me joy, that I will take into the new year. I have often taken the upsets, the hurts and the troubling memories forward with me. I thought hanging on to the pain would somehow protect or prevent me from ever feeling it again. What I discovered, was that holding on to these thoughts and feelings just brought more of the same experiences into the next year.
It’s not past experiences that cause pain, it’s the hurt feelings we play over and over in our minds.
So this December, I am going to spend some time remembering the experiences that feel good to think about and these are the stories I will carry with me into 2014. I invite you to join me in this quest to find the memories worth keeping.
You cannot erase the experiences of the past, but you can choose the memories you carry forward.
Our lives are lived moment to moment. What you think about in this moment, is affecting how you feel right now. You can choose a painful argument you had with a family member or you can choose a delightful moment of laughter you shared with a colleague to wash over you in this moment. Our lives are filled with both joyful and hurtful memories, it’s up to us to decide which ones we want to re-live in our minds again and again.
Only you can decide what this moment will hold for you.
I used to hold my hands out in front of my kids. “Pick a hand,” I’d say. “This one stands for happiness and this one for unhappiness. Which do you choose to be, happy or unhappy?” You are making that same choice every day by the thoughts, memories and imaginations you hold close.
The choice to feel happy or unhappy is always yours.
What a delicious time from now to the first of the year, to dig deep and find the memories, the laughter, the stories, the discoveries and the connections that brought you joy this year. Then wrap these wonderful thoughts up in ribbons of gratitude and give yourself the greatest gift possible for 2014. You have a choice. Let this be your year of taking forward only what makes you feel happy.

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  1. “You cannot erase the experiences of the past, but you can choose the memories you carry forward.”
    When I read that sentence, it reminded me of how I wish to erase my bad experience with my basketball coach in the past. He believed in me that I can do great things but in the end I failed his expectations.

    I kept thinking all the time about the pain etched on his face whenever I flopped but maybe you’re right – I should choose the memory of him believing in me and carry that forward instead.

    Thanks for the post Karen.

    • What a beautiful example Wan – thank you so much for sharing it! We have a choice what we want to continue rolling around in our minds through the years and like you, when I’ve learned the lesson, I’d rather move forward with the part that felt good to remember. πŸ™‚

      I deeply appreciate your candor Wan.

  2. Hi Karen

    Our memories and how we perceived them is what holds us to them. When I can look at the bad ones as only an observer and not take with it the pain, then I can let them go.

    I called my sister up the other day, I have not talked to her for several years. We send a few letters back and forth during the year but I am not close to her. But this time I decided whatever she through my way I could turn it around. When she started talking about me as a child (she is 12 years older than me) and brought up some negative things, I came back to her with…”well, you know it was their fault”. (meaning my parents) We had a dysfunctional childhood. We then started comparing notes and we actually bonded in the dysfunction part. Studying psychology for quite sometime put me in a much better position to deal with her and being prepared was easy…it was like watching the same movie over and over, you know the next line.

    I think what we go through in life makes us who we are…as compassionate and caring or bitter and unhappy, the choice is always ours.


    • Mary,
      Thank you so much for sharing so candidly. I truly understand, coming from a lot of dysfunction in my birth family as well. I love that you are taking a new approach and building, even if its only a couple, good memories to carry forward with your sister. It is amazing when we begin to see things from just the slightest new angle, the load of the past gets lighter and lighter. I agree with you 100%…”the choice is always ours.”

      Thank you again – I deeply appreciate your sharing.
      Karen Jolly recently posted…How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014My Profile

  3. Lovely post Karen. Growth and development takes place when we learn from our pain and challenges. I loved your points.

    • Thank you Lalita – always great to see you! It is so true, there is so much growth that comes through the challenges we face – often that is the best part to carry forward! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Hi Karen,
    It is like just about to enter new year in sometime. And really the fantastic way is to carry good memories with us. So we can enjoy the present moment of life. It is a matter of concern that we lose the present because of the past and the future. Realization that present is the most valuable moment, is important.Nice post.
    Nitesh Sharma recently posted…The 5 Easiest Ways Towards HappinessMy Profile

    • Thank you Nitesh for your lovely comment. Yes, you are so right, the fantastic way is to carry good memories with us. But the most important thing is to realize that the present is always the most valuable moment! I look forward to reading your post! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Awesome post! ” It’s not past experiences that cause pain, it’s the hurt feelings we play over and over in our minds.” Yes! So many experiences to remember from this past year . . . and as I look over my calendar I realize the truth in this quote. Even the most discouraging experiences had great learning in them, I just need to “get over” the disappointment and discouragement first! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the reminder!
    Lisa Mallis recently posted…Why Do People Apologize When I Walk Into the Room?My Profile

    • Thank you so much Lisa! That’s the perfect example of what we all can do with the memories of this year, find the lesson in them and move on. There is so much good to take forward and its up to us what we leave behind. So beautiful to know the decisions is ours! Thank you for sharing Lisa, I look forward to reading your latest post!

  6. Well said, Karen! Indeed, we can’t erase what happened, but it’s always up to us to choose what to carry forward with us. My year-end ritual is to review the blessings of the year with gratitude and then vision for the new year in meditation. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Karen!
    Alice Chan recently posted…Listen With HeartMy Profile

    • What a beautiful end of the year ritual Alice! Review the blessing of the year with gratitude and vision for the new year in meditation – I can’t think of a better way to leave 2013 and journey into 2014. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so grateful for the wisdom you bring to my life Alice. Happy Holidays!
      Karen Jolly recently posted…How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014My Profile

  7. Oh my gosh I had one of those horses too! I remember the squeaks but not the exciting adventures like you. I too am digging in as this year closes and trying to find all the goodness and release the unnecessary thoughts that keep me trapped. Thank you for the reminder. Sending you love and joy for the holidays and new year. xoxo Dianna

    • Oh how fun – you had that horse too! I have so few pictures of my childhood, but I found this after I wrote the post! I felt it was a little gift from the Universe! πŸ™‚ You and I are on the same page, digging in to “find all the goodness and release the unnecessary thoughts” that keep us trapped. It certainly feels lighter the more I do it. Life is too short not to focus on all the good in our lives. Thank you Dianna – wishing you all the best for the new year! xo
      Karen Jolly recently posted…How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014My Profile

  8. Karen, that is such a beautiful message and so true as well. I completely understand what you are saying about making a conscious effort to remember the good memories though the bad ones help you learn and become better. But dwelling too much on negativity has a stressful impact on our emotional health.
    Rachna recently posted…To a new beginning!My Profile

    • Thank you Rachna! Now you can see why I just loved your latest post – what a beautiful memory to carry forward. You could have just focused on the nerves and the stress of that day, but instead the memory was focused on how everything melted when you both locked eyes as you came down the aisle. SO perfect! πŸ™‚
      Karen Jolly recently posted…How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014My Profile

  9. Great reminders, Karen. I especially love “I thought hanging on to the pain would somehow protect or prevent me from ever feeling it again.” It’s perverse how protection becomes pain. I’m with you, let’s choose happy!

    • Thanks Christy – always a joy to see you! So true – we just don’t realize the affect those thoughts have on the body – especially when we’re younger. Whenever I feel pain now, I remind myself that it truly is in my mind – takes a bit of work to get rid of it but so worth the effort! Thanks always for your wonderful comments!!

      • Your comment made me remember my frequent childhood stomachaches. Only years later did I realize the body-mind connection behind them. I love how our minds become allies when we become savvy to their unhelpful patterns and reprogram them!

        • Interesting – I had sore throats and earaches when I was young! Those sore throats plagued me into adulthood, until I figured out that I spent my childhood afraid to express myself. I agree, the fun starts when we begin figuring out the puzzle and get these patterns reprogrammed! xo
          Karen Jolly recently posted…How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014My Profile

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