The year 2014 was a rough one, or maybe those are just the not-so-distant memories of it. “We” lost the U.S. Senate, rogue white police officers seem to have been given carte blanche to execute burly looking black men – or black 12-year-olds, whoever looked more menacing in the moment. And at what was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, it seemed the only places that abounded with Christmas spirit were the insides of malls and homes with small children.

But we will not start 2015 with all that in mind. Instead, we will ring in the New Year with gratitude, hope and happiness! Before you “bah humbug” me, bear in mind that my island home of Jamaica has been plagued by police brutality toward poor black folks for decades. There is no welfare except the kindness of neighbors.The behavior of government is questionable at best, crime rates fluctuate but remain astronomical.

Yet Jamaica in recent years has been called one of the happiest countries in the world. Perhaps it’s the jerk chicken, perhaps it’s the combination of rum and church. (We’ve allegedly had the most in the world of each at one time or another.)

I think most likely though, that it is the reckless abandon with which our people take every moment as it comes. The acknowledgement that if I can’t buy lunch today, I can pick it from a random mango tree. The gratitude to believe that whether tomorrow is better or worse than today, at least I’m around to enjoy it.

I’d like to hope that more of us can adopt those attitudes: The gratitude for life. The abandon with which we can live it.

This year, let’s decide to be happy – like those barefoot Jamaican children playing along the gully banks with cars they’ve made from orange juice boxes and soda bottle caps. There’s no Xbox in their near future, and whatever shiny new toy they may want may not be in sight.

But since we have life, let us give thanks for it by living it to the fullest wherever we are. Happy New Year, my friends!

Calibe Thompson is a personality, author, and the producer of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly. To purchase her new book “The Jamaican Word Search” visit