5 Tips for a Happy New Year
The fresh start of a new year brings hope and a vision for how we’d like for our lives to be better and more fulfilling. Each January, we set goals for ourselves and contemplate how we’d like for things to improve over the next 12 months. We work diligently toward some of these goals, while others go unachieved and are more of an overarching representation of how we’d like for our lives to be different.
Some years bring more success than others, and there are periods of happiness and also periods of time that we’d like to forget. With each passing year, it seems that the common theme in our hopes for the upcoming years all boils down to one underlying theme; happiness. We want to be happy. We want our family and our friends to experience happiness. And, we hope and pray for peace and happiness around the globe. This year, as we contemplate how we might change for the better, it is important to focus on this recurrent theme of happiness so that we can enjoy any other positive changes that ensue. Here are some tips for being happier in 2016.
Set boundaries. We live in a time where the sky is the limit. People are available 24 hours a day via several different means of communication. The expectation is that we respond to any request and do so immediately. An unanswered text or email is often misinterpreted as a dismissal or an act of rudeness. However, happy people don’t perseverate about this. Texts can go unanswered; especially if the trade-off is that you don’t interrupt a face-to-face conversation that you are having with someone. Unfortunately, we feel compelled to respond immediately. It has even become difficult for us to drive from one place to another without a phone in hand, typing at a red light. Learn to periodically turn off the screens and say no when it is appropriate. Saying “no” to a request often means saying “yes” to spending your time on something or with someone who is more important to you.
Be nice to others and forgive. There is nothing good that comes from being unkind. It doesn’t help others to feel better, nor does it feel good to the person dishing out the negativity. Some people are prone to being more critical and, when not careful, can unintentionally attract other negative people who tend to flock to those who cut others down. If you have a negative thought about another person, let it go. Don’t say it out loud. And, if others are being critical, simply be quiet or change the conversation. Sometimes speaking out against criticism is necessary, but more often than not, simply refusing to engage is the best way to extinguish criticism.
You can even go one step farther and seek to understand why others can be so unkind. Then, forgive them for this. People who are the most critical of others are often those who feel the most unloved. When someone is unkind, seek to understand why this is the case. Often, a person who is critical is constantly seeking reassurance about him/herself. When someone is mean-spirited, it is not necessary, nor is it healthy, to pull him/her into your close circle of friends. However, step back and think about what makes this person feel so insecure that he/she has to constantly try to pull others down. Sometimes you’ll find that simply ramping up your kindness towards that person, regardless of how critical he/she has been of you, will lead them to feel better about themselves. The most seemingly narcissistic people are typically the ones working the hardest to cover up entrenched insecurity. Remember this and try to reciprocate kindness as opposed to revenge. Kindness undoubtedly leads to happiness.
Be nice to yourself. We all have an inner-dialogue with ourselves and, sometimes, this self-talk can be more negative than positive. It’s difficult to be happy when we are focusing on, and pointing out, the negatives. It is imperative to be kind to ourselves, to pat ourselves on the back and fill that inner dialogue with praise and affirmation. It is equally as important to take care of our bodies, to exercise and fuel ourselves with adequate nutrition, and to carve out time to relax and unwind.
Use your gifts. There is no other person in this universe with your unique genetic make-up, your strengths, and your gifts. If you are looking to find your gift, think about when you are the happiest and what you tend to think about the most when you are feeling satisfied. This typically leads you to your unique strengths. Next, share this gift with others. It can be your vocation, your musical talent, your ability to comfort others, your unassuming personality, etc.; whatever it is, use it to contribute to the greater good.
Center yourself regularly. Get back to the basics. Remember your overarching goal and the means that you use to guide yourself. Prayer, mindfulness, and/or reflection help us to be more intentional about how we are going about our days. Each of us has a way of staying on path, and it is imperative that we revisit this to ensure that we are happy and living the path that we choose, as opposed to stumbling down the path that falls in front of us.