Happiness-Resolutions for the New Year

The path comes into existence only when we observe it.
~Werner Heisenberg~

Are you in danger of living most of your life unhappy? Have you given serious thought to how you can increase your happiness in 2013? Or, will you allow your preconceptions about happiness thwart the possibility that you can be happier? When something is important to your wellbeing, as your happiness, you have to carve out time in your schedule for I and commit to actions that will enhance it. Hope and prayer alone will not suffice. You have to find ways to create and experience happiness in the here and now if you desire to cultivate a continuous state of happiness.
Individuals who are able to suspend their disbelief to trust in new possibilities for their life, including their happiness, are much more likely to engage New Year resolutions with a greater measure of passion and commitment to see them manifest into reality. James Mapes writes in Quantum Thinking, When you see a movie, read a novel, watch television, or go to the theater, you suspend your disbelief and focus on the screen, book or stage. You allow the process to unfold. You may even feel as if you have become part of the story. You may get bored or skeptical, but for the most part, you let the story take on a life of its own. It makes the process enjoyable and fun.” Mapes asserts, “Similarly, major breakthroughs in science and medicine have come from simply believing that a new idea has validity. The act of admitting the possibility of a solution sets in motion the necessary mental processes to solve the problem.”
As you read the following happiness-resolutions, many of which have been adapted from Gretchen Rubins’s The Happiness Project, imagine the possibility that each represents a key to greater happiness. If you practiced them you will be much happier. You have nothing to lose and much more happiness to gain

Happiness-Resolutions for the New Year:
1.      Strengthen Your Personal Relationships. According to Rubin, “Research indicates that the most important element to happiness is social bonds.” Regardless if you are an introvert, extravert or a combination of both, the quality of your personal relationships has a tremendous influence on your wellbeing. Deepening your emotional connections with those that you care the most about requires that you water these relationships with actions that inspire positive emotions from them and within you. Developing your emotional intelligence skills will support your efforts of strengthening your personal relationships.
2.      Shift Your Outlook on the Ordinary. Contrary to popular opinion, our happiness is largely influenced by our perspective on what is familiar and considered ordinary.  You might not feel as if every moment is worth toasting, however that doesn’t mean that you cannot focus more of your attention on what is going well in your life instead of magnifying the negatives. A reliable way to prime creative thoughts as to how you can discover ways to make the familiar and ordinary, extraordinary read Rubin’s book and others like it on the topic of happiness.

3.      Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Burning the candle at both ends result in too many of us depriving ourselves of the proper amount of sleep we need to awaken each day from a restful sleep which renews our energy to take on our day. When we wake up tired, we are usually more difficult to deal with and our outlook on the day is tainted with a less than energetic perspective on the activities that we have to do. Conduct a personal sleep study. Determine the optimum amount of hours you need to sleep for you to awaken most days ready to take on your day. Once you know this, arrange your evening activities around this information so that you increase your experiences of having a good night’s sleep.
4.      Walk, Run or Jog for 30 minutes 4x a week. Rubin’s research on happiness found  studies that repetitive activities, such as walking, triggers the body’s relaxations response and so it helps to reduce stress. And as you know, the less stress that you feel, the better you feel.
5.      Seek Help. Accept that some seasons in our life cycle is more difficult than others. One of the most important life lessons I have learned is this: if I am going through some challenge, difficulty or transition, someone else has had to go through it as well. And I can learn from their wisdom and lessen the amount of time and energy I spend by seeking out their help and/or advice. For me, I’ve found reading about the lives of others or on specific subjects, such as happiness, enable me to acquire insights and wisdom from the many writers and authors who has felt it to be a part of their purpose to share their story with the world. I am forever grateful for them. Regardless of the season of your life, your public library is a great place to start with seeking solutions to any challenge.

6.      Suspend Your Judgment of Others. Why is it that when someone does something that displeases us, we have a tendency to believe that it is an indication of their character? Whereas, when we do something that isn’t a reflection of our highest personal standard, we chalk our actions up to the situation. Many of us are quick to judge and label others when they make similar mistakes that we do. When we suspend our judgments and seek to understand the thoughts, feelings and emotions that influenced a person’s behavior before assuming that we “know” their heartfelt intentions, we create a space of openness in our relationships that can serve as breeding ground for stronger and healthier relationships. Healthy social bonds increase our happiness.

7.      Act More Energetic. Rubin writes, “Although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. The philosopher and psychologist William James explained, “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together, and by regulating the action, which is under more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feelings, which is not.” Rubin goes on to say, “Advice from every quarter, ancient and contemporary, back up the observation that to change our feelings, we should change our actions.”

8.      Tackle a Challenge. Engaging activities that forces us to navigate unfamiliar territory adds to our happiness. Rubin argues, “One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition. You become large. [Not in an egotistical way but in such a manner that you are more curious about manifesting the seeds of greatness dwelling in your potential]. Research says that the ore elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.” In my life, I have found that when I am actively engaging various interests and opportunities my life expands and I am more likely to take on challenges and less likely to lose ground because one area of my life isn’t lining up as I had hoped or planned. When I reflect back on my life, I can see the importance of not having all your eggs in one basket.

I will not presume that you will take each of these happiness-resolutions presented and make them your own. James Mapes provides a great illustration in his book of how the process will most likely unfold. Think of the happiness-resolutions in this way: If I were to cover a giant hole with tar and throw feathers at it, some of the feathers would stick and some wouldn’t. The happiness-resolutions in this blog post that makes a difference to your personal growth at this time in your life will be the ones, like the feathers, that stick.
It’s Your Move ~ Aspire Higher

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