Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Seven Simple Steps to a Happier 2016

It's that time again. The new year is just around the corner. For many folks, a new year means a new start. It's a time for setting new goals and making resolutions to help meet them. Those resolutions are often centered around physical health and appearance: quitting self destructive habits like smoking, losing weight, starting an exercise program. But there's much more that goes into creating a happy and healthy life. Check out the seven simple steps below to help create a happier  life in 2016. Try just one to add a little more "happy" to the new year, or try all of them for a radical life transformation. 

#1 Do what matters most to you.

Finding what makes you excited to get up in the morning goes a long way toward living a happy life. Determine to let go of the expectations of others and be led by your own passions, gifts and desires. It's not an act of selfishness. You can't give what you don't have. Invest the time to discover your unique gifts and talents and how to incorporate them into a life that fuels your passions, then watch how you are able to positively impact others.

#2 Find your rhythm.

Everything in our world has a rhythm, from our cells to the solar system. People, like all other creatures, function most efficiently when they are following their natural rhythm. Getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule is a great place to start. If something comes up that bumps you out of your routine, don't stress. Just get back to it as quickly as you can. The reward will be a clearer mind, a better mood and more energy to put toward #1.

#3 Cut out clutter.

Clutter can be mentally paralyzing. Tidying up your personal and work space reduces distraction, which is a slow drain on mental energy. It also saves lost time and prevents the unnecessary stress that comes with looking for things you've misplaced in the clutter. Need some help? Check out becomingminimalist.com .

#4 Play.

Our culture here in the United States is very performance oriented. Long hours of work are lauded as virtuous. In the current state of the economy, some folks have to work overtime or multiple jobs to get by. The result is that many people don't take time to play. Play is an important factor in health and happiness. It reduces stress, increases creativity and, when enjoyed with others, strengthens relationship bonds.

#5 Get rid of the leeches.

Leeches, those things that suck energy, time or resources without any real benefit, can drain the happiness right out life. They may be co-workers who don't carry their weight and expect you to pick up the slack, friends who are constantly in need and don't reciprocate or projects that don't yield any benefits. Leeches can turn happiness into frustration and resentment. Limit the drain by eliminating the leeches. Better yet, get in the habit of not allowing them to latch onto your life in the first place.

#6 Don't overcommit.

Sometimes people over commit because they are uncomfortable saying no or have a strong need to please others. For some, it has become a habit, a default mode of living. Over committed people are often exhausted, stressed and frustrated and often don't enjoy the activities they've committed themselves to. Pruning back commitments leaves more energy for happiness to bloom.

#7 Manage your digital life.

Technology can be a terrific tool or a terrible tyrant. Without boundaries, it can take over life, crowding out important things. Learn to manage technology in order to keep life in balance. A simple but effective way to get started might be to use the "do not disturb" function on your cell phone or deciding to keep digital devices turned off during meal times. 

Do you have tips you'd like to share about creating a happier new year? Share them in the comments section below!

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