How to Be Happy

With the New Year upon us, it is time to remember our New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, stop smoking, save more, spend less, Dean’s List, stop watching full seasons of televisions shows at a time on Hulu, all very valiant resolutions. This year, I have a different New Year’s Resolution. Call it the resolution to end all resolutions. This year, I vow to be happier.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not unhappy. I just don’t appreciate things the way I should. I have a great life, but I simply don’t appreciate it enough, and I let the little things get to me and bring me down.

I recently read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. She went on a year long journey to be a happier person. Rubin found herself not appreciating her wonderful life enough, so she documented the whole year and ended up happier and more appreciative. I decided to follow her footsteps and be happier in 2013, and I picked out my top six lessons I learned that can help you on your journey to a happier 2013.

Act the way you want to feel.  The simple act of smiling can greatly increase your mood. So what if you spilled your coffee in the parking lot on your way into work. If you act angry about it, it’s going to poison your mood for the entire day. Everything will soon make you angry because you’re already acting angry. Instead, slap on a smile and act happy. You’ll see an improvement in your mood.

Enjoy the fun of failure. With each failure on a new journey we learn something about ourselves, about how we handle things and how we want things to be in the end. If we begin to enjoy the fun that failure can bring us, we stop fearing failure, ensuring success and growth in our future.

Keep a gratitude notebook. One of the reasons that I’m unhappy is because I don’t appreciate the great things in my life. This year I’ve committed to writing down something that I am thankful for that day. It helps bring some perspective and reminds me how good I have it. 

Take time to be silly. Remember when you were a kid and once you got the giggles you were no longer sad that it was raining on your first day of little league? It’s like when we grew up we decided that we couldn’t be silly any more, and with that decision, away goes the healing that silliness has. Next time you’re a little down, remember to be silly!

Follow the one minute rule. How often do you feel unhappy because you seem to have a mile long to-do list? How many of those are things you can do right now? Follow the one minute rule. If there is anything you can do that you can finish right now in under a minute, do it. Those dishes in the sink? Wash them. Clean laundry? Put it away. It seems small, but all of those little things add up quickly and add stress to your day.

Forget about results. As humans, it seems we’re constantly striving for something. We’re always working toward a goal. Have you ever noticed that once you actually reach your goal, it’s almost never the “oh my gosh I finally did it” feeling of accomplishment you expected. It’s more of a sigh of relief. We enjoy the ride more than the destination.

While being happier this year cannot be done with only six simple tips,  these are a good start to a happier New Year. You’ll need to put in the work and commit to being a happier, healthier you this year. In her book, Gretchen Rubin says, “Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but everyday is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity.” Use 2013 as a fresh opportunity, and let this be your happiest year yet.