"Clearly the secret of happiness ... is a variation on the general principle of banging your head against a wall, and then stopping."
- Stef Penney (The Tenderness of Wolves: A Novel)

It has - within the terms of the definition provided above - been a good year.

The head still aches and if there is one fortune for which we can all hope, it is that next year should be less tiresome.

For all but the most recession-proof of businesses this was a year about survival - and that is no fun.

Survival might have been the "word of the year" had that not been awarded by John Key to pragmatism.

It is not that survival mode necessarily involves more hard work than an expansionary phase, it is just that it is so much more dour, so much less exhilarating.

Our desire as humans is to create, to build and improve the world.

It is not to huddle in caves hoarding resources. In 2009, a good way to get depressed about the brutality of basic economic survival was to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

It's a beautifully written literary take on a post-apocalyptic world, now being made into a Hollywood film.

The book gets across the idea that if the trucks don't keep coming to fill our supermarket shelves then we pretty much start eating each other. Or rather, the strong eat the weak.

That horror was borne out by the news of a German archaeological find earlier this month. Scientists found evidence of cannibalism that was chilling in its detail.

The feast took place 7000 years ago after the breakdown of a period of relative civilisation in Northern Europe.

There's a reason to feel okay about Fonterra propping up the economy or feeding your kids McDonald's Happy Meals once in a while.

And happy meals are what it is all about at this time of year. Not the trademarked kind obviously, the kind where you get together with some family and remember what you have been working for.

This was a tiring year for all workers.

They were hard yards.

So we come to the end of 2009 depleted of adrenalin for that final sprint to the line. But nevertheless, we cross it and should feel proud to have done so.

As we lurch through the finishing tape, cue Eye of the Tiger (the Rocky III theme).

It's a punch-the-air, 80s hair-metal anthem which is not only by a band called Survivor but manages to use the word in the chorus and in two out of three verses. It is also best appreciated after one too many drinks.

Let's celebrate survival.

Don't read The Road on the beach and do listen to Eye of the Tiger if you get half a chance. Recharge, refuel, reload.

In 2010, New Zealand needs to do more than survive, it needs to poke its head out of the cave.