Happy New Year 2014!

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Whether you homeschool or not, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day bring so much excitement. We all appreciate a new beginning, a clean slate, a fresh start.

Traditionally, we wish each other a Happy New Year. That’s nice, as long as we go beyond wishing and hoping.

Children wishing a happy new year 2014 in front of a white board

My children with their new board and easel.

Salman Khan of the Khan Academy inspired me with his 2012 commencement speech at Rice University. He encouraged the graduates to take a pro-active approach towards happiness and challenged them to increase the net happiness of the world.

How do you do that?

1. Be positive in a delusional kind of way, even when the situation looks hopeless. “Sometimes I force myself to smile. Good things happen in your body when you smile,” he says.

2. Appreciate the smallest things people do for you and tell them so. A waiter, a bank teller, a sibling, a friend, a store clerk – they all need a word of encouragement and a compliment. By saying one nice thing, you might not only turn a bad day into a good one for someone, you might turn a career around. The ripple effects of positive words cannot be measured.

3. Travel forwards and backwards in time. Let’s say that you were 70 today, but somehow you could magically go back in time to today and re-live your life. You can re-live all your successes, and fix all your regrets.

What kind of things would a 70-year-old person regret?

  • not spending more time with their children
  • not saying “I love you” more to their spouse
  • not telling their parents how much they appreciate them

There’s nothing on that list about bringing more work home from the office for the weekend or getting all the laundry done by a certain time each day.

Corollary: by homeschooling your children, you touch not only your children and grandchildren, but this world in ways you don’t even dream about.

On that note, let me wish you a Happy New Year and a successful homeschool in 2014.