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Make 2019 your happiest year yet

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It was two nights before Christmas and the rink was empty until the Longo annual skate began.

Generations of hockey lovers gathered for the ninth year. It would be the first time that a third generation was included. It was fun and, at 61, I was the second oldest. Liam was the youngest at 13. The others were somewhere in between. The game was a lot of fun but it was even more fun to hear the stories that followed in the dressing room and carried over as we shared wings, nachos and drinks.

What continues to impress me is how genuinely happy this group is. If I had a child playing today, we would be lucky to have any of them as a coach. The reason is simple: perspective. All of them have been successful and they know that in the end the greatest gifts their sports provided were friendship, fitness and confidence.

Listening to one wife/mom/athlete, I heard concerns about family communication when they are running to rinks and co-ordinating the schedules of three very young kids and how easy it is to get information crossed.

But instead of complaining she laughed and looked at her husband with an “I love that guy” smirk. This group includes people who have played at levels of excellence in sports that include volleyball, baseball, roller hockey, ultimate, lacrosse, skiing, fishing, golf, rugby and, of course, hockey.

They understand the commitment it takes to attain success and they know what it takes to navigate that very long journey, but mostly they know that enjoying the present is equally important to planning for the future and that made me think … What really makes me happy and what would I include to make sure there is fun in getting to where I want to be?

Here is part of the list I came up with:

• Focus on what you want to achieve and the measurable stepping stones in mapping your progress.

• Make your workouts intense enough and enjoy the great feelings of being in the zone.

• Check out something new every month.

• Look after yourself and make sure your medical appointments are booked and that you let injuries heal.

• Be positive — don’t let mistakes dominate your thoughts; focus on the correct skill, move or action.

• Accept compliments.

• Go to a high school, college or university game and watch the sport of your choice.

• When you’ve had five great workouts in a row, visit your favourite bakery and share a fritter.

• Smile a lot and laugh out loud.

• Go to at least one of the ParaSport Games in February.

• Plan a reunion with a team from your past

All the best in 2019.

• Share stories about times when you were really happy.

• Make sure that you get adequate rest and that you are fit enough to do all the things you love.

• Look in the mirror and be proud.

Remember everyone wins when everybody plays.

Joe Millage is a master course instructor with the OMHA, chair of ParaSport Ontario and an advocate for lifelong activity. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..