How’s your new year going?


We make our own happiness.  Sure, unexpected obstacles pop up on the road of life for all of us.  But far too often, too many folks let the challenges in life determine their happiness.  Of course, there are those of us who have seemingly insurmountable challenges – terminal illness, bankruptcy, identity theft, and so on.  But most of us Americans are truly blessed with our health, our eyesight, our hearing – the basic requirements to be functional human beings.  Humans’ ability to adapt and survive is the attribute that separates us from all the other animals.


My prayers always begin with gratitude for my health, my sight, hearing, etc.  And I strive to always stay focused on creating my own happiness.  I love and am thankful for, my wife and my family.  Practically, I just put a new roof on my house.  I’ve known for the last several years that the time was coming that I would have to face that expense.  The roof is on, and my discipline and planning have made me happy.  I’ve achieved that most basic of needs – safe, secure shelter – and for that I am happy and grateful.  On the discretionary spending side, I will complete the restoration of my 1958 antique Ford Thunderbird this year.  Although I’m hiring out the work, it is something for which I’ve saved years to complete.  Once again, my discipline, saving, and planning will bring me satisfaction and happiness.  And I always factor in charity for the less fortunate of my fellow humans.


In a sense, many of us who are of the Christian faith will soon begin a new season with the coming of the Lenten season.  Ash Wednesday is February 14.  Just two days later, the Chinese New Year begins.  So let’s address the New Year celebration for our Asian friends.


The Chinese New Year takes place on a different day each year because it is based on the lunar calendar.  New Year’s Day regularly falls between January 21 and February 20.  The Chinese New Year for 2018 will be the “Year of the Dog.”  There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, so each animal gets an outing every dozen years.  There are different varieties of each animal. The New Year in China, 2018, will be the year of the “Earth Dog,” which will be the first year for the Earth Dog since 1958.  Anyone born in an Earth Dog year is said to be communicative, serious, and responsible in the workplace.  According to Asian astrology, your year of birth – and the animal this represents – determines a great deal about your personality traits.


Last year, 2017, was the Year of the Rooster.  You can look up which one of the Chinese zodiac animals coincides with your year of birth.  I am a monkey.  I know, many of you are laughing.  I’d rather be a monkey than a rat or a snake.  But the traits of each of the animals are fascinating.  Let’s look at the traits of a monkey, according to the Travel China Guide.  My strengths are brilliance, independence, honesty, cordiality, and positivity.  My weaknesses are irritability, impetuousness, and easily frustrated.  My “wealth outlook,” based on my monkey profile, reads as follows: “Smartness and flexibility always bring them wealth their whole life.  Saving money and living economically, they also accumulate a large amount of money.  They always feel satisfied with their current achievements.”


I don’t consider myself wealthy.  I’m wealthy in all I’ve been blessed with and worked for.  For this, I am grateful and am also satisfied.  That Chinese Zodiac seems fairly spot-on.  The Chinese have always been known for their insight and wisdom.  As Confucius say: “Work for your happiness, and it will repay you.”  Well, to be honest, I don’t know if Confucius said that, but I did.  Much happiness to you and your family, this year, and forevermore.

-Mark Pope