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10 Simple Secrets for Making 2014 Your Happiest Year Yet
Posted: January 2, 2014
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“Playing to your strengths brings real happiness,” he notes. “And when you combine those strengths with a desire to do something good, it’s a double whammy. For example, if you’re a store manager with a flair for writing, and you also love animals, you might offer to pen a weekly newspaper column for a local dog or cat rescue group.”
“Not only do you miss out on the joy your loved ones could be bringing you, on top of that you end up feeling guilty about neglecting them,” he says. “Decide that 2014 is the year you’re going to improve these relationships. It is really about spending more time with the most important people in your life doing what they want to be doing with you.”
“If you’ve gotten to a place where you resent your spouse or feel chronically angry with him or her, only you can change that,” he says. “Make an effort to speak gently and kindly. Surprise her with a small gift, or do one of his chores, or pick up something special for dinner. Random acts of kindness are always powerful, and that’s even truer inside a marriage.”
“Be generous with hugs,” he suggests. “I’ve always been a hugger, and while people may be taken aback at first, they quickly come to appreciate my openness. If you’re just not the hugging type, that’s fine: Try thank-you notes instead. Letting people know how grateful you are for what they do makes two people happy: them and you.”
“Living with your anger and resentment is a recipe for misery,” writes Patkin in Finding Happiness. “For one thing, those two emotions reverberate through your mind and body, setting up toxic thoughts, physical stress, and, yes, illness. And for what? You are the one walking around feeling miserable while the objects of your anger are often totally oblivious to your feelings.”
The point? Resolve to forgive someone who has caused you pain. Whether you call or visit an estranged ex-friend or write a letter to a deceased parent, you may find the gesture immensely liberating.
“If you have good health, a sound mind, and as little as an hour a week to spare, you are truly fortunate,” he says. “Whether you’re tutoring kids who need a helping hand or delivering hot meals to the elderly, there’s great joy to be found in giving.
“Many people know this intellectually; they’ve just never put it into practice,” he adds. “Make this the year you do it. Just give up some of the time you waste in front of the TV or mindlessly surfing the Internet. You’ll find that it’s no sacrifice at all.”
“Gratitude covers a lot of territory,” he says. “When you’re grateful for your family, you’ll treat them better. When you’re grateful for talents, you’ll use them. When you’re grateful for your health, you’ll work to maintain it. All of these add up to happiness.”