Cheers to 2019 and another chance for us to get it right!
”For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – T.S. Eliot
A New Year brings infinite new possibilities. A clean slate. A reason to erase past mistakes and start afresh. We all know that resolutions don't always stick. But for a shot at real happiness, try penning a set of personal commandments (an idea borrowed from best-selling author Gretchen Rubin.)
I would suggest writing them down and keeping them handy. This may make you laugh, but I have mine scribbled on a post-it note stuck to a long-expired Bed & Bath coupon. Anytime I'm stuck in traffic, listening to Camila Cabello’s 'Havana’ repeat itself for the fourth time in a sixty-minute window, I find myself pulling out my handy-dandy list and ruminating on what's important.
Here's my list . . . to help you get started on your own:
1. More adventures
You don’t have to go away to an exotic locale to feel more joyful. Spending time outside is the easiest way to put some pep back in your step. “Come on,” I say to my Westie, Sheru, when I’ve spent too much time staring at my computer screen, willing an idea for my next post to appear on the blank Word document. “Let’s see what the great outdoors has to offer.” He responds by jumping up and wagging his tail enthusiastically. Inevitably, my outdoor adventure with my dog, soaking up a little bit of sun (and helping my body produce Vitamin D) lifts my spirits. Give it a try—just be sure to lather up on sunscreen!
2. More laughter
A wise friend once said to me, “You’re a very serious person." That made me think, and I realized she was right. While there's absolutely nothing wrong in being a serious person, the world around us is an unhappy place—anytime you turn on the television, they’re people dying from terrorism, war or natural disasters in every part of the world. If you're lucky to have your health, a good-enough bank balance and your children are safe, you're blessed. So, lighten up.
3. More sleep
"Sleep is the best meditation," said the Dalai Lama. In fact, research shows that not sleeping enough (four hours per night) may lead to lower levels of optimism. And other studies show skimping on sleep can damage our on-the-job performance and academic performance. Be it a full-night’s sleep, catnaps or power naps—it’s time to reclaim your sleep!
4. Drink less
Keep in mind what's true for me may not be so for you. For instance, I've decided to drink less wine. Although I love the taste of it, I find I get too sleepy or emotional after I've had a glass or . . . three. And, I don't enjoy the feeling of waking up at dawn holding the back of my head in extreme agony. The pulsing pain reminds me of Gulliver shipwrecked on the island of Lilliput, who, when he awakens, discovers he's fastened to the ground by microscopic men no taller than six inches tall. It's as if those tiny men are dancing at the back of my skull with hob-nailed boots. Not a pretty feeling!
5. Sweat it out
No time to go to the gym or jog everyday? The latest research has found physical activity does not need to be vigorous or structured to be good for you. House and yard work can be quite a workout, especially when done at a brisk pace. Scrub, vacuum, sweep, dust, mow and weed—it all counts! Look for ways to add extra steps. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or the elevator. Park farther from a building entrance, rather than right out front. Grab the leash and walk your dog. Your body—and your pooch—will thank you! Take your kid or your significant other for a walk. It’s an excellent way to get some face time without screens.
6. Meditate daily
My yoga mat had been sitting in the corner for years but when I finally gave meditation a try when I was at a wellness retreat (read about my adventures at Jindal Naturecare here: http://www.anoopjudge.com/blog/my-adventures-at-jindal-nature-cure?rq=Jindal) it made me shine. I felt calmer, more patient, a better parent, a kinder and gentler spouse, a nicer friend—so, I’m a believer and this year I want to make it a daily habit. Research shows that eight weeks of daily meditation can lead to greater happiness. Here’s how to get you started:
7. Learn to let go
That’s easier said than done, you say with an exaggerated eye roll. I agree, but adopting a hakuna matata outlook can boost overall happiness. Countless self-help books will tell you that holding onto resentment and hurt feelings can tie you to the past and also marks a decision to continue suffering. Make the choice to be happy by forgiving people who hurt you and moving away from situations from your past that brought you down.
8. Make time for friends who matter. Abandon those who don't
Despite what the Spice Girls would have us believe, it’s not true that friendship never ends. Research actually confirms what we’ve all experienced: most middle-school friendships don’t even last a year. And, while some adult friendships last throughout life, some others make us feel as if we’re enduring a life sentence. When is it time to end a toxic friendship and break free? For me, if a friend has betrayed, abandoned or wounded me irreparably, it’s time to say sayonara.
9. Enjoy the journey
In other words, practice the technique psychologists call savoring, a way to fully absorb life’s wonderful moments, large and small. “Through your thoughts and behavior, you extend and intensify a good experience, extracting every morsel from it,” says Fred Bryant, Ph. D, a social psychologist and coauthor of the book Savoring. “Savoring is a skill like any other—the more you do it, the better you get at it,” says Bryant. For a start, remove the headphones, breathe in the fresh, crisp air and actually stop and smell the roses when you’re outside walking the dog.
10. Be grateful
We have spent the last few decades trying to have what we want—for the next few, I want to rejoice in what I have. Research proves that an attitude of gratitude can make you healthier and happier. Besides simply thanking people, try keeping a gratitude journal and write down what you’re thankful for every day. Experts maintain that jotting down even one sentence of gratitude a day can boost feelings of happiness.
Here’s to writing a new chapter in 2019! What about getting started on your commandments?