Follow these suggestions to enjoy your life more in the coming year
Have you already let work, school, or family stress interfere with your bright and shiny new year? If so, catch yourself now and take some simple steps to get back on the path to enjoying your life. We all get bogged down in duties and responsibilities, but here are some tricks for keeping the happiness quotient up. You deserve to savor your life—especially if it doesn’t require much time or effort. So try some of these strategies. You’ll be glad you did!
1. Take care of the basics
First thing’s first: Are you getting enough sleep, and are you eating enough of the right foods? You can’t expect to relax and enjoy yourself if you aren’t taking care of the fundamental requirements your body and mind need to function properly. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, drink plenty of water, and get in some fruits, veggies, and lean protein each day. There—you’ve set yourself up for more happiness already.
2. Commit to yourself
Following through is an essential component of a happier life, because it means living up to the goals and ideals you have for yourself. Whatever you decide is important, the essential part is making the commitment to act on that decision, so you can reap the positive benefits. This is something none of us should underestimate. Whether it’s eating healthier, getting in a walk every day, making time to laugh and play with your children and/or pets, or going after that new job, the only one who can create the change is you. So make good on promises to yourself.
3. Practice gratitude
This is not simply about a feeling; gratitude is something to show. Even if you just say out loud each day to a loved one—or even to yourself—what you’re grateful for, it can have a positive impact on your outlook (as well as your health). Not only will you feel better, you’re also more likely to reach out and help other people. According to several researchers, the effect of showing gratitude can make you more alert, enthusiastic, attentive, and energetic. It can also help you to sleep better. So take a few minutes out of your day to look around and acknowledge what you have.
4. Have perspective on rejection
If you didn’t get the job offer you were hoping for, or a friend didn’t take you up on an offer to socialize, don’t take it personally. Look forward, and remember that you never understand all of the circumstances that go into someone else’s decision. Spend an appropriate amount of time re-evaluating your approach, get help if you need it, and then move on to the next objective. Perseverance in a potentially fruitful new direction will get you much more satisfaction than stewing about missed opportunities.
5. Find a new environment
You might not have time or money to take a fancy vacation to a foreign country, but if you have a few hours on your day off, explore someplace new. It can be fun and interesting to navigate a new landscape—even if it’s just an hour to walk your dog in a park you’ve never been to. The change of scenery can stimulate new ideas and ways of seeing, and every new outing expands your horizons just a little bit more. We all deserve that.
6. Focus your attention
The trend these days is to multitask, but research has shown that doing several different things at once simply means you’re doing any one of them less effectively—and each one takes longer. Not to mention that contentment often lies in being absorbed in one activity and giving it your full attention. If you’re reading something on your phone, and have the TV on the background, and are trying to study or have a conversation, you’re not really present in any of those activities. Shut down the media and focus on the most important task at any one moment. You’ll get more done quicker and feel more satisfied in the doing of each one.
7. Let go of a grudge
Holding a past mistake against someone is an easy way to drain yourself of precious energy—and enjoyment! You may have heard a version of the quote from Malachy McCourt that “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” In other words, resist the urge to hold onto a grudge, which is inherently toxic, and then to delude yourself about the impact it’s having—on you! This sentiment is often repeated in the context of Alcoholics Anonymous, where the healing of recovery depends in part on taking personal responsibility. It may not always be easy to forgive and forget, but you’re maximizing your own chance at happiness if you make space to move on from feeling you’ve been wronged in the past.
8. Stay present in the here and now
One of the tenets of Zen Buddhism—whose practitioners always seem highly content!—is to resist the urge to regret past decisions or actions, and avoid fretting about the future that is yet to come. The only alternative is to live fully in the here and now, and be present with what life has to offer you. You can’t change the past, and don’t have control over the future. Whatever impact you’re going to have on your life, you can only make that change now. So pay attention and open yourself up to the fullness of this imminent reality.
Are you getting the idea? There are lots of ways to loosen your grip on some obstacles to your own enjoyment, and increase your effort in areas that will yield you positive results! All you have to do is make a small change in one of these ways—today. That seems worth the impact it could have, don’t you think? It’s your life and you deserve to enjoy it, and you’re the only one who can increase your happiness. It’s waiting there for you, when you’re ready!
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School. We care about the health and well being of all our students. Learn more about the number of different professional training programs we offer at our two campuses in Massachusetts. Reach out to us today in Malden (781-324-5454) or Fall River (508-730-2740) for more information or to schedule a campus tour.