"Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.” ― Walt Whitman
Researchers and social scientists repeat over and over like haunting song lyrics every 365 days that New Years resolutions don't work. So enough already. Instead of trying to lose weight, give up chocolate or promise to pay down debt this year, how about trying something realistic that you'll actually enjoy. Here are five simple ways to feel happier in 2015.
*Get more rest.* If you've ever forced yourself to stay awake for 24 hours you begin to understand why sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture. Our bodies need sleep to recharge both mentally and physically. Can't go to sleep earlier? Try catching a quick nap during the day. Believe it or not sleep researchers report sleep greatly affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. During one experiment using a facial recognition task, researchers studied how sensitive participants were to positive and negative feelings. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap became more sensitive to negative emotions like fear and anger.
*Do one thing at a time.* Sounds deceptively simple but amazingly most human beings fail to master the art of performing one single activity well. Want less stress and worry in your life? Live each moment. Now is now, not the past or future. Put down the smart phone, turn off the TV, close the laptop; not only pay attention to WHAT you are doing but WHY you are doing it. As you slow down you will find yourself savoring each bite of food, each songs melody, each photograph you admire, each word from a loved one, each sunset you've ignored. (And you know you have.)
*Go Outside* Want to feel better fast? Exercise has always been one of the most effective ways to boost your mood. Exercise can help you relax, increase your brain power, and even improve your body image, even if you don't lose any weight. Something as simple as a ten minute walk can make you happier and healthier. Studies also show that pet owners who regularly walk their dogs are less prone to heart issues and depression.
*Practice Gratitude* Gratitude is a keen awareness that no matter our circumstances we have something or someone to be thankful. At our lowest or weakest moments we may depend upon our gift of gratitude to realign our perspective with what is truly important in our lives. Keep a gratitude journal, perform random acts of kindness, volunteer, give to charity. Place more focus on what you have and less on what you don't.
*Take Charge* Remember this always, you deserve happiness. Happiness is a birthright. Happiness is a choice. But don't ever expect other people, places, objects or things to make you happy. In order to take charge you have to let go of waiting. Let go of finding Mr. or Miss Right, the perfect job, the next house, the next child or having enough money. You and you alone are responsible for your own happiness today, tomorrow and in the coming year.
With love and peace - Happy New Year !