Get Happy


I was recently told that the best New Year’s resolutions are very clearly actionable. A lot of this comes down to specificity. Instead of simply resolving to eat more kale in 2015, promising the resolution overlords—who I imagine to be made up of the extremely dynamic hosting duo of Christy Turlington and Wayne Brady—that you will eat kale at least once per week might make for more success. It’s certainly less sexy (because, as we all know, being vague about how much kale you eat is extremely sexy). But you can’t argue with results.

My ambitions for 2015 sound a little far-fetched in comparison. But before we get to that, let’s rewind.

My glass is usually half empty. It’s a trait I believe I’m predisposed to by nature—being the spawn of lawyers, trust is not something I have in spades. My reality show catchphrase would be “I’ll believe that when I see it.” It’d look great on t-shirts.

It took about four years (we’ll call them High School) for me to really settle into the role of lovable cynic. Furrowed brow, mostly black wardrobe, always a quick-witted retort, I was Daria meets Clint Eastwood in Grand Turino. All the while, I dug the irony of my being—and was entirely convinced the rushing onslaught of disdain that made up my personality would prove to people that despite extreme lack of experience, I was smart, mature, wordly to the point of world-weariness. And at least a little part of me thought it was freaking adorable. People asked me how on earth I could be so negative so soon. I joked it’s what kept me thin.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m starting to notice wrinkles. More realistically, it’s because I’m finally a self-sufficient adult, but I’m finding it hard to keep that whole act up. Instead of espousing those world-weary bon mots at parties as an excuse for poor social skills, I'm starting to actually feel world-weary. It's less cute than it sounds. My point (and I do have one) is that negativity, especially forced negativity, is really tiring. And also potentially bad for your health.

So this year, I've resolved to do better, to pour a little more in my glass so it's closer to full. Plus, happy people don't shoot their husbands. They just don't.

'But how on Earth is this measurable?!” I hear you asking me through the monitor. Good question! There are all the standard routes: sleep more, exercise more, eat better. But being a 22-year-old in New York City, I’m just not seeing how that’s really going to happen. It’s January and I’m not going to go the gym or give up my all-too-frequent dollar slice I get across the street from the office. Don't even ask.

Instead, I've embarked on a bit of my own path here. Getting the hell off the internet (when I can) is a big part of it. I'm not going so go as far as blocking Gawker from my browser, but that'd probably solve all my problems fast. Snark has its place and I've been known to dabble in the practice. But how many times a day do we need to smack ourselves in the head with the fact that the world is going to pieces whether we like it or not? Once a day is probably enough. It's better for the lining of your stomach that way.

There's also the self-help book route. I'm taking suggestions. First up is a recommendation from Emily Weiss: How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Apparently getting people to bend to your will, albeit in an amiable way, does a good deal to make you a more satisfied individual (hopefully not self-satisfied though). So be prepared to like me a lot more in the very near future. Going dark on the communication front for periods of time—nothing crazy, just a couple hours here and there—might also help. My mother also points out that abandoning my phone every now and again would actually give me time to read a self-help book or two. We'll see how it goes.

Or, easiest of all, I could just keep growing up. Studies show that the older you get, the happier you tend to be. Seems a little counterintuitive, but who am I to question science? And if I'm already noticing the creases in my forehead, perhaps this one is closer than I think.

Got a New Year's resolution? Or better yet, got suggestions for mine? Let's discuss. I'll try to be open to suggestions. Promise.

—Emily Ferber