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A whole new year is just a few days away. When you reflect back on this past year, you can't help but think about what you don't want to duplicate in the coming one.

Like everything under the sun, different people handle similar issues in many different ways. For example, in losing weight, some will exercise, some will diet, some will wish hard for something different to happen, some will have another plate of nachos.

In test taking, some will put in the time each day, rationing out the work necessary until the big day comes, some will decide that they work better by cramming all the information in at the last possible minute, and some people will hold the attitude of "book? What book? All I need to know the professor said in class. Now if I had only attended more classes."

In gardening, some will nurse a poor, wilted, half eaten plant through thick and thin, trying moist soil, dry soil, rich soil, poor soil; others will try a bit, perceive that they aren't getting anywhere and yank the plant out by the roots; time to try a different one. Still others won't bother with plants in the first place.

None of these methods are wrong, though some probably have a higher likelihood of producing positive results.

The same goes for relationships. Some folks dream big, believing that they are entitled to happiness. They take strides to find happiness and create it for themselves. Some folks only worry about their happiness when its absence is thrown in their face, then they hustle to fix the crisis. Still other folks don't ever worry. Life as is (however that is) is fine as is.

None of these approaches are wrong. Some probably have a higher likelihood of producing happiness, if that's a value to you in the first place.

So what's bugging you? What didn't work in 2015 that you'd like to correct in 2016? If your answer is "nothing," then fantastic, you've achieved the level of Bodhisattva and I envy you. If you have a gnawing feeling that things between you and your significant other aren't quite right, but don't really want to invest the time to figure it out right now, watch out! You are listening to a rattlesnake shake its rattle and will soon enough experience the other end of that snake.

On the other hand, if you would like to actively build a much better 2016, you can definitely do so. If you still have a dancing partner (someone who is willing to dance with you), there are wonderful steps you and your dancing partner can take to samba seamlessly. However, if your erstwhile dancing partner more often chooses to "sit this one out," you've got to rescue yourself. Your pursuit of happiness begins and ends with you. Isn't happiness a significant value, a prime virtue? Doesn't your happiness make so much more possible?

Take this week. Think life through. Make resolutions. Create plans. Build sand castles or draw lines in the sand, whichever works best for you. But be intentional. Be decisive. And thereby be successful.

2016 can be your year.

Michael Manely

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