Perhaps the commonest resolution people make is to be happier—we all want to be more joyful, more satisfied, and a sated soul in life. But mostly, we go about it the wrong way. Instead of making happiness a goal, make it journey. Making it a goal means you will let things interfere with it, letting hurdles come into the way of true happiness. Making it a journey means you will teach yourself to smile through it all—and by the end of the year realize that your basket of joy is overflowing—enough for you to share the love and make the world a happier place!
Now how do you go about being happy? Easier said than done, right? Well, we’d love to prove you’re wrong on this—the trick to the happiness journey begins with baby steps. Here are ten that will put you on the right path…
1. Make Gratitude a Priority
The old adage reminds you not to count your chickens, but you can certainly count your blessings. And why only you? It’s good to get the whole family involved in this gratitude project. Every week, organize a little family sit down and on a piece of paper, write down everything that you all are thankful for. Make sure it’s something new every week. Now fold away these chits and store them in a glass jar. Whenever you feel a bit down and out, take out a chit and read it out. By the end of the year you will realize that your store of things to be happy about is already overflowing with joy.
2. Accept & Like Yourself
If you dislike something about yourself, get up and make a change. Do not wallow in self-pity or get mired in self-hatred. Lose some weight, get proactive, get off the couch, get a job, seek out happy people to be with, visit a makeover salon—deal with whatever it is that is stopping you from being the star you were meant to be. For me, it’s my work—I tend to let it get away from me and end up stewing about it. So this year—I am making a work schedule and sticking to it. Plus, I want to lose weight—so I have already upped my yoga sessions from 30 minutes to an hour. Simple, doable changes are the trick—you cannot just want change, you have to be the change (as some wise person once said)!
3. Make Your Mornings Happy
If waking up from the wrong side of the bed has become your daily routine, cull it. If you wake up with a frown, or with angst, or with the general feeling of the day getting away from you, take charge of your life. Let me lead by example—alarms tend to irritate me. To the point that my cell phone alarm was ruining my mornings. So while I didn’t quite smash my phone, I did change the alarm into a song I really like, sung by a singer I really like. “Closer” by Coldplay is what my phone plays to me at six in the morning and I tend to wake up with a smile. (Post a few snoozes, that is!)
4. Reduce the Stressors in Your Life
There’s no point in fretting about what you cannot change. I cannot change my height, or my skin color, or that zit that popped up when I had to make a good impression. I cannot change my voice or the way I talk. I cannot change my life or my finances or my body size overnight. I cannot change my workload, or my family or my place in life at an instant. What I can do: stop being part of the problem. Stressing, fussing, and fretting about it will not change it. But it will change me from being a positive person into an angst-ridden negative soul. And that is something I need to stop this instant. Make the change, be the change—but till the time you cannot, don’t fret about the change…
5. Cut Out the Toxic Relationships
There are people in our lives who do us more bad than good. They may say that they are our well-wishers but frankly, are anything but. There are some who are honest critics, who tell us where we err so that we can make a positive change about us. But there are also those who strip us bare to our soul, whip our feelings till they are raw and voice the worst words we have ever heard—all in the name of “good for us.” These are the people who do not deserve to be in our lives—who like to make us feel bad or small about ourselves so that they can feel better about themselves. Cut them out for your own good for relationships need to be balanced to make you happy.
6. Make Changes to Please Your Soul
We all deserve to be happy and to make ourselves happy (as long as we are not making ourselves happy at the cost of anybody else). So go ahead and indulge that parched soul a little. Adopt a puppy, or get that aquarium. Have that ice cream or buy that fluffy sweater. Buy some doughnuts for the local elderly community, or get (or make!) that shade of red lipstick you have been itching to wear. A little pleasing for the soul is good for it and for your happiness levels.
7. Introduce a Little Spirituality into Life
Before the atheists around decry…being spiritual has got nothing to do with being religious. The fact is we live in a cosmos we don’t really know much about. We are one of the newest life forms on earth even now, and many parts of our own planet come across as alien to us. We have limited knowledge and a vast curiosity which none of us will be able to fill in our lifetimes. So it’s good to gaze at the starry sky with wonder, or listen to that gurgling brook with joy, or even scatter some seeds on the ground to let them take root in silent growth. Don’t let the wonder of nature escape you—go on walks, meditate, be close to nature’s creations (in a safe way), and marvel at the life you have and the creator who made it all.
8. Travel As Much As You Can
There’s nothing like a good experience to create a memory of a smile—travelling gives us memories, introduces us to new sights and sounds, and basically makes us happier people, inside and out. Meeting new people, eating new foods as well as experiencing the wonders of geography, climate, and topography—life doesn’t get better than it does with a trip to the unknown.
9. Reduce the Clutter
I’m not advocating living the frugal life because that is not really everyone’s cup of tea; but the more you de-clutter the physical spaces around you, the more your internal spaces get de-cluttered as well. You may own, say, 200 pieces of clothing, but taking care of all this ends up eating into time you could have spent doing happier things. Instead of re-organizing your wardrobe every 3-4 weeks, doing loads of laundry, and having tons of mending to do, you could be jogging around your favorite track or catching that latest chick flick or even learning to play the guitar. The time you spend in taking care of your “hoard” could have been time well spent instead—so feel free to donate all that you do not need.
10. Learn Something New
Finally, we have become a “button” generation. There’s a button to call people, a button to heat food, a button to order new stuff, a button to like stuff, a button to dismiss stuff—you get the picture. We are very electronic savvy, but how many of us remember how to model something with clay? Or how to make a braid? Or how to make an art project? As a race, we are replacing creativity with efficiency. The joy of mastering something new is something we all need to add back into our busy lives. So make sure to learn at least one new skill in the New Year. It could be learning how to cook or how to crotchet. It could be wood whittling or glass painting. Or try playing the ukulele or learning how to bicycle.
You are never too old to learn something new and this journey of learning will put you on the journey to happiness! It’s a brand New Year—make something magical out of it!