Have a Happy New Year!
From Kitty Chappell
Each year we receive sincere greetings wishing us a happy New Year. But does happiness just happen, a luck kind of thing like winning the lottery, dependent upon fate’s roll of the dice—or can we play a role in actually attracting happiness this New Year?
Listed below are three categories with suggestions which I believe, if put into practice, can assure more happiness for each of us this coming year.
STRENGTHEN YOUR MIND
Set a Goal
If you don’t know where you are going,” wrote author Lewis Carroll, any road will get you there. You light a candle when you set a goal. Even in the darkest circumstances a goal inspires hope and where there is hope there is life. A goal gives you reason to get out of bed and to try.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Continually blaming others and circumstances for your unhappiness or lack of achievements is a by- product of the victim mentality. (Have you ever known any victim who is happy?) Take ownership of your choices in life. Assuming responsibility for your thoughts and actions is the springboard to freedom, accomplishment, and happiness.
Learn to say “no” to those who would take advantage of your giving heart, be it individuals, groups, or organizations.
Say no to those individuals who are unwilling to sacrifice for their financial stability but expect you— who have already sacrificed for yours—to supplement their irresponsibility.
Say no to disrespectful treatment from others. Acceptance of abuse in any form, word or action, is not tolerance, it is weakness—it encourages further mistreatment since it smacks of approval. Treat those around you with respect and accept no less from them.
Face Your Fears
Don’t run or hide, stare them down. Do whatever is necessary to overpower your fears. You will emerge stronger—and a strong person is a happy one.
Embrace Constructive Criticism
No one enjoys being held accountable for their actions, no matter how lovingly it’s done. Don’t treat this opportunity for growth as bad news by “cutting off the head of the messenger”. Be wise, however, and consider the source of the criticism. Is it mostly the opinion of a critical self-obsessed manipulator or a respected individual who is more concerned about what is right than who is right? Regardless of the source, look for the grain of truth in any criticism and if it is there, benefit from it.
Plug Your Energy Leaks.
What is an “energy leak”? Anything that drains your energy: comparing yourself to others, worrying about what you think others think about you, refusing to forgive, repay a debt you know you owe, or extend an apology. Other leaks can be anger, impatience, worry, fear, or procrastination. You likely already know how to plug these leaks—you just need to take action.
Curb Your Criticism.
Break the mental habit of finding fault with others. How much time each day do you spend criticizing people? Be honest. I challenge you to find out. (It may be costly) Get lots of change. Place a container within easy access and for a month put a nickel in each time you mentally criticize a person. Put a quarter in when you do it verbally. At the end of the month, total it and you have your answer. Then donate the money to a charity in celebration for by then you likely will have broken this unhealthy mental habit. Why bother doing this? Have you ever known a critical person who is happy?
Develop an “Attitude of Gratitude”
The Apostle Paul wrote the words in every situation give thanks—while falsely imprisoned. He could have spent his energy bitterly complaining but, through his writings he showed us how to be joyful in any situation. When things aren’t going well, we tend to look for more reasons to be unhappy, and we find them. That is unwise because the ungrateful person is always an unhappy person. The grateful heart understands that no matter how difficult the circumstances, things could be much worse—and for that it is very grateful.
Give Up Controlling
Controllers are miserable people. They live lives of frustration because they can’t control others, be it corrupt government officials, injustice in the workplace, or inconsiderate relatives and friends. If they could just whip everyone into shape, they think, they would be happy. But that can’t happen. We can only control ourselves (and that isn’t easy!) so that is where we should focus. What can we do to make ourselves happy when others don’t? Living by Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer could be a start:
God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
STRENGTHEN YOUR BODY
We have only one body and it must last us a lifetime. Amazingly, many of us treat our bodies as though we can turn it in for a new model when this one develops problems. What if the very first car you bought was the only car you were allowed during your lifetime? How would you treat it? You know the answer—nothing but the best products would go into it, and the best treatment consisting of regular checkups, tune-ups and servicing. Doesn’t your body deserve the same treatment?
Responsible pet owners wouldn’t dream of feeding their pets unhealthy food or other harmful substances. Yet many of those same pet owners (including millions of other homo sapiens) eat junk food, drink, inject, smoke, and dip things that are toxic to their bodies—despite warning labels and medical articles advising healthy foods. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that “Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.” You may be happier this year if you omit the harmful things to your body and advance to a nutritious diet.
Every dog owner faithfully walks his dog because he knows it needs exercise. (Sometimes I remind myself of this during my Curves workouts, “My body deserves this exercise, my body deserves this…”) Every body needs exercise, especially if is overweight—and even if it isn’t. It’s not about appearance, it’s about health. Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease, strokes, and other life-threatening diseases. If these diseases don’t scare you into exercising, pretend you are a dog.
Listen to Your Body
Don’t ignore your body when it’s trying to tell you something. Some messages are easy to hear, such as the effects of too much alcohol and caffeine. The cause of other symptoms, however, often requires investigation. For example, the cause of unusual depression experienced around the Christmas holidays is typically associated with grief or loss. But depression can result from something less recognized—a sudden increased sugar intake. Sugar destroys water soluble Vitamin C—meaning the body can’t store Vitamin C to use when more is suddenly needed—and so it must be replenished. Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and stress also destroy Vitamin C. Combine any or all of these factors in excess and the body will suffer—and it will tell you. Again, we assume the cold or flu we caught was just something “going around.” It probably was something going around—likely it was the abundant sweet trays and stress. Greatly increasing your C intake during holidays or other times of celebrations, helps boost the immune system in its fight to protect your health. If your body persistently nags you through pain or unusual symptoms, pay attention—there is always a reason. Heed the old saying: a hint to the wise is sufficient. The reason won’t go away just because it’s ignored.
Whatever routine screening tests your doctor recommends for your age, do them. Some diseases don’t produce symptoms that will trigger the body’s warning system. Ignorance ceases to be blissful when your life is suddenly cut short due to an undetected disease that could have been treated. Your body deserves regular checkups just as does your car.
Don’t take life so seriously. The world won’t end if you make a mistake. Admit your goofs, learn from them, and then laugh with others about them. Add more humor to your life by watching comedies and repeating funny jokes. (If you have to, write down your favorite jokes so you can get the added benefit from laughing again when you share them.) Why? Your body benefits from laughter. Research shows that laughter produces physiological changes offering the same advantages as a workout: it burns calories, improves the immune system, increases heart rate, oxygen, and blood flow. It lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics and is an effective pain killer. In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins wrote that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep. His experience validates the truth in the ancient Proverb 17:22 which states: A merry heart does good like a medicine; but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox was also right in the first lines of her poem “Solitude” which read, Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone. No body likes a sour puss, not your own or anyone else’s. Laugh more this year and you’ll be healthier—and more popular.
STRENGTHEN YOUR SPIRIT
God created us to worship and we will worship—someone or something. God’s very first command, however, is that we worship Him.
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” – Blaise Pascal
Touting its product, an old commercial used to say, “Don’t accept any substitutions”. (Does anyone recall what they were selling?) Why does God want you to worship only Him?—because He created you. You are special and He has a plan for your life.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 TLB
Why not nurture your spirit by following God this coming year and discovering His plan for you, instead of fretting about yours?
Have you ever read the entire Serenity Prayer below? It might also help.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
– Reinhold Niebuhr