All 2017 is missing is a little happiness and joy looking forward to a better year around the corner. Why procrastinate another two weeks until January of 2018?

Reality of current life in the Gorge: People are seen on auto pilot in the Pacific Northwest creating Christmas light displays, issuing negative news stories on TV saying they found a new Grinch, citizens shopping as if it is a materialistic duty for their claimed loved ones this year — chosen few and different from last year. Streaks of complaining about ex-relationships are aplenty. Separating and offending those they gossip about by phone or social media conversations.

Instead, we could all get positive. Get up and actually send someone a real paper holiday greeting card! The person you sent it to just might appreciate you, take the chance on a positive interaction in life. If you like a holiday display in town, then issue a paper "Thank You" card to the creator. Show extra kindness going about your daily duties, for example open doors for others in December. It matters!

Before you can catch any type of holiday spirit, you must be amazed at someone or something in your close vicinity. That sense of appreciation and wonderment wrapped up in one. The automatic smile. We were to be "thankful" in November, and maybe in December we can find "appreciation" for others. How? All one has to do is call upon what made them happy in the past. A positive person compliments others in this process of finding appreciation in their life.

Your happiness was not created by another person. It is something you enjoyed! You used to enjoy life! Towns that enjoy life in general as a population have open businesses, such as the old Recreation Building Bowling Alley, theatres in the heart of town on the same block as the original theater in history, not the other end of town.

The bars have done a good job of revitalizing historic areas of the downtown to supply social gathering places. Something has to draw people to the downtown. Other businesses have given it a go, too.

The key- before any town could revitalize the rest of the community, is that residents have to find their thrill for life again, wanting to reclaim their streets in beauty, civic pride. When positive, energetic citizens occupy your town then local downtowns thrive!

Where to find happiness? To start: Stop counting what you lost or situations out of your control. During the holidays think back to what used to make you smile.

Was it a special candy sold this time of year?The extra time off work that pleases you? Something magical about a well-done holiday display. Mine locally was walking into the former "The Bakitchen" and seeing their holiday-decorated pastries and the smell of warm baking throughout the air. Inside was always nice and warm, a sharp contrast to the winter winds of the Gorge.

You have the power to turn your holiday time around and you have the power to destroy it. In your past there were no magical elves that stole your good time. Stop the blame game-look in the mirror. If you made situations impossible in the past, then try to do the right thing going forward in time.

Each human you see deserves happiness. Negative and often critical to the point of cruelty ways need to go in 2017. Would you want a lingering history of yourself to be described as "a mostly negative human?”

We can all do better. In fact we all have something to add looking onward in positivity to the conversation of happiness. Just need to be social minded in person, fully listen to others with an attentive and sincere nature.

We all feel good when people smile back at us. Try your best chatty or social self in local businesses this week — see the magic of the holidays begin for you!

Self-determination is your top asset. Listen to you, forget negative people till they can join you in the approach of life that seems most righteous. Forego being critical about anyone's weight whether it is weight lost or gained.

Recall January is around the corner and all about recalling your good health in resolutions, then followed by a month focused on heart health.

Instead, encourage people to get healthy in general. A good idea is to try to respect people's ideas and ethical personal boundaries. Your lifestyle does not have to become their, -respect their idea of life. Show this by being filled with dignity in tone of speech, thus showing respect for others. Our good graces never allow anyone to mock or belittle those before us or anywhere in our community.

There is something for you deep inside — you have the ability to let go of negative conversations from today or long ago. Peaceful living adds years to your life. Let go at your speed and when you truly mean it.

This looks different for each person. If you are out in South Wasco County, take a walk in nature to think about things. Locally, I find the river very soothing to the soul.

We are all human and forgiveness is only for those who did the work to gain your thoughtful forgiving words back. No one has to be perfect in trying to repair a situation in life.

Never are you obligated to argue with someone. Remind them of personal boundaries. Clear communication to the person is the only way to remedy and, without it, they must like the turmoil! Gossip about town does not count in this situation.

Recall "Freedom of Speech" has limitations in the law. You should limit your words yourself to have the utmost manners.

The written words of the law are for the blatant person without manners — they as a human should have already known to behave.

Be the creator of your own happiness! Take small steps. It is okay.

Force that smile as you can not get a wrinkle, your face is moving upward. Challenge yourself to truly smile at least once a week.

If you were nicer in this world the question remains: Would others follow?

— Laurie Briggs resides in The Dalles

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