It is New Year’s Eve and I am feeling kind of good and kind of goofy. Actually, I am also feeling kind of tired and spacey too. The mad kitten had a…spell…last night where she went from delightful and sweet company to hell on wheels until about 1am. In and out and in and out and if I shut the door she would mew and scratch and look pitiful. So…we were both up way too late. A nap has taken the edge off but I am still a little out of it. At least it is only 7 now and she has begun her in and out and in and out madness. There is hope for sleep in my future.
And tonight, at 10:30pm EST on http://blogtalkradio.com/grace-independent you can listen in as I take to the airwaves as the voice of Grace Independent to perform the New Year’s Eve service. If you can’t listen tonight, follow the link later and listen to it through the Grace Independent player or find the podcast on iTunes.
There…business out of the way : )
I have been back and forth about making resolutions for some time. Most of us have had the experience that our resolutions seem to last about as long as our holiday and within a week or two, life reverts to the same-old-same-old and our motivation and commitment to change seems to disappear. Or, if we are lucky, we do pursue and realize our goals only to discover that they haven’t made much of a difference at all.
So, I have been reading and thinking and contemplating about what I could do as far as using this very public moment that is supportive of change to try and come up with resolutions that were effective and could be achieved. I should have saved my progressive list of ideas and posted them. You would have laughed, some of my ideas were out there and just…embarrassing.
And then, I came across some work done by a woman named Sonja Lyubomirsky. She is what is known as a positivity psychologist and she set herself the task of performing a clinical study on the common traits of happy people. She came up with 12 basic common traits, all of which were things that these people developed as attributes in their life and continued to make an effort to keep active in their experiences. She also wrote a book, The How of Happiness, which I am thinking I would like to read.
I read her list (and don’t worry I am going to post it in this blog) and started to think that maybe, taking on a few of these as a resolution would be a better idea than having some very narrow goal. All of the traits come with their own actions and they are all doable. It would be a different kind of resolution that losing weight, getting fit or saving money because those resolutions contain the hidden hope of creating happiness while actively making the pursuit of the traits of happiness is totally above board and very clear. Resolutions that are made without a clear understanding of their motivation are most likely to fail. As are the ones with hidden motivations. For example, for a lot of people losing weight is a resolution for reasons of health and well-being, but their hidden motivation may have to do with an absolutely devastated sense of self esteem and a desire to prove themselves to a world they perceive as having judged and rejected them. That is a resolution with a hidden motivation and it will be damaging in the end because the core motivation is not recognized and the elemental issue is not addressed and healed.
So, think about it.
Here is Lyubomirsky’s list, the added commentary is from Jacob Sokol of Marcandangel.com. They are considered to be “happiness habits” maybe they should be the habits we all should try to develop in the coming year.
1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on. A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12. Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.
Happy New Year!
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.