To A NEW RESoLUTIoN
It is that time again—we all make New Year’s resolutions. These
are promises to ourselves to do better, push harder, make more
of oneself in the coming year. There is excitement at the beginning,
certainly on the celebratory first day of each new year, but let me ask you, how do you feel
at the end of the first week? Are you still feeling the newer, improved, more positive you?
Well, I know from my own personal quest to improve that
the first week is typically exhausting to the point of being
disheartening. I rarely lose as much weight as I swore I’d do;
I hardly ever get to fly my airplane as much as I said I’d do;
gardening is almost always a loss, despite our lovely Florida winters; and if
it was writing I was promising to do, or
a push for more family time, well, those
two valuable commodities often fare the
worst of all, despite my best intentions.
Why is that? Why do we set out each
year as individuals, even as a group, to
reform ourselves or reshape ourselves,
with such high hopes, maybe even
higher than we could ever reasonably
sustain? I believe it is because we are a
species of perennial optimists. It is an
incurable chronic ailment, at least in my
case. We want to be happy, we can see
ourselves happy, if only we can get over
this next hurdle, or that one.
These days the hurdles can be huge.
They are financial. Health related. Educational. That’s all daunting stuff. And
probably not the stuff we should be pinning our hopes of happiness upon. Perhaps it would be better for us all to simply strive to be happier, without preconditions about what it
is that should change, putting so much stock in the insistence
that change will “make” us happy. One of my favorite books
is called The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck, PhD. She says that the
10 ingredients for joy are: Nothing, Truth, Desire, Creativity,
Risk, Treats, Play, Laughter, Connection and Feasting. There’s
no weight loss, no new job, no extra money or advanced degrees involved in the process. There are plenty of action items,
though. Beck wants us to do some pretty esoteric stuff, such
as listing our own personal rituals, learning about stillness,
and how to stop being afraid of being afraid. Finally, the book
talks about the connections we make with others, and how to
become energized just by being around other people.
That’s the kind of prescription for happiness that works for
me. I learned a long time ago that whatever your personal
hurdle, you need to know that you do not have to go it alone.
The whole idea behind Women in Aviation, International, was
to have women, experts in their fields,
helping others to achieve their dreams.
I was at the very first Women in Aviation Conference, held in Prescott, Arizona, back in 1990, and even then, with
just 160 individuals (not all women, by
the way, just like today) in attendance,
it was an energizing, invigorating event.
I spoke to an intimate group of about 20,
on a subject I was hardly an expert on,
but by the end of the hour roundtable
educational session I knew more about
my subject matter than I could have
ever hoped to reap as a journalist doing
cold calls and research on my own. And
the people in the room probably learned
a thing or two, as much from each other
as they did from me.
The idea for the conference was so
successful that Dr. Chabrian tried it
again, the next year, and then the next.
By that time the word was getting out
about the synergy of these gatherings,
and people in the meeting rooms were asking, “Where can
I join this Women in Aviation group?” But we didn’t have a
membership at the time, and board members were perplexed,
until they realized that the Conference had become more than
just a conference. So they obliged and created the member organization, WAI, to back it all up and help members connect
That’s how the International Women in Aviation Conference works, even today. That’s why the people who attend
it tell me that it is the equivalent of a shot of energy for their
dreams and desires. It is the Feasting that Martha Beck talks
about in her book, I think. And, in my opinion, the best advice for happiness the good doctor could offer. ✈
The 10 ingredients
for joy are:
There’s no weight loss,
new job, money or