It’s another year! And if there is anything we would like to have and be this year, that would be happiness.
For 2017, let us strive to be happier and more productive. And research has revealed to us the many simple ways to be happier. You don’t have to win the lotto, or get married, or be stress free to achieve this goal. Just follow these simple steps and do them consistently.
One caveat though. These activities might appear too simple. But believe me, it is the enacting part and committing to performing them regularly that is the challenge. You can’t say, “I have done this once or twice, I expect to be happier.” You need to incorporate these activities in your disposition and schedule.
So, here they are.
1. Express gratitude – Appears to be very simple but even the most trained professional can succumb to depression because she gets caught in the loop of over activity and forgets to be thankful. Studies show time and again that the simple act of counting our blessings will have a significant impact on our mental and physical health.
Specifically, you get the benefit of expressing gratitude by writing three things you are thankful for at the end of the day. Expressing gratitude in relationship contexts also enhance intimate bonds. So, say thank you now to your partner or your loved ones.
2. Start something new – One of the challenges to enduring happiness is that we easily adapt to the pleasant but ordinary stuff everyday. The antidote to this is to find a new activity. Register for a triathlon, go fishing, learn a new language, learn to play an instrument, serve the community, join the choir, etc . According to research, it is the experiences, not things, that can make us happy. Hence, let us take advantage of the many meaningful opportunities that surround us just outside our comfort zone.
3. Be more personal – We have lost our face-to-face human connection now because of technology. We are putting more priority on texts, emails, Facebook, etc, over personal encounters. But nothing can ever replace the shared laugh of friends, voices of loved ones, or a meaningful conversation over dinner.
Research again shows that face-to-face contact enhances physical health, perceived social support, and happiness in surprisingly potent ways. So, take more time to be with your favorite people in person this year.
4. Volunteer – You might think that doing volunteer work is benefitting only the one you are serving. You are wrong. There is ample evidence to suggest that doing prosocial behaviors – actions that are done to benefit others – bring surprising benefits to the person doing the kind acts. How small the act might be, there is a clear mood boost that comes from doing a kindness.
Martin Seligman, a renowned pioneer in positive psychology once remarked, “ doing a kindness produces the most single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.” So, get involved and show your kindness more pronouncedly this year.
Happy New Year everyone! Thank you very much for journeying with me through this column. We look forward to a happier 2017!
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