For as long as I can remember, I've been slightly bothered by the phrase "Happy new year." "Happy birthday" I can handle just fine, as birthdays seem well suited to a day of celebration and being happy. But a whole year?
As American citizens we are granted a constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. And so we feel entitled, maybe even pushed into ever ongoing attempts to find, seek, make, discover and live in a state of rapture. Here's what I think happens. Sometimes seeking pleasure and happiness gets in the way of experiencing it... the seeking itself takes over and becomes the goal. (Duh ~ I am more mindful of that trap now, more open to seeing simply what IS with delight.)
Another possible downside to continual pursuit of happiness may be a decreased ability to function emotionally, physically and spiritually during the inevitable hard times. If we stop chasing and stop fighting, relaxing into what is, noticing a wide range of feelings, perhaps then we will actually experience our lives as having wholeness.
I'm sure there are many philosophers who have given great thought and good words to the concept of happiness while I simply scrape at the surface. Yet, entering 2011, I wish anyone who is reading this and myself a "whole new year!" May we take it all in, experience all of it fully, the happy and the unhappy, the delightful and the boring, the fun and the drudgery. May we open ourselves to all of it.