Sunday, 28 December 2014

7 Easy Ways to be Happier in 2015

2014 has been a challenging year. For some, it’s had a lot of dreadful moments.
I don't know about you, but I'm desperate for some positivity after so much bad news from the world around us.  I’m a big believer in the adage ‘you reap what you sow’, so if you’re looking for some ways to bring happy back into your life, try practicing a few of the following tips. They’re surprisingly simple things you can do every day that can make a big difference to how you feel. And this can only be a good thing if you've got kids or loved ones that need you in top form. 
 The great thing is, it has a flow-on effect: doing these things will actually bring happy into other people’s lives, who can then pay it forward.  Practice happiness and watch it spread to those around you. I guarantee you great returns.
 Here are my 7 ways to be a happier person in the new year:
 1.       Make eye contact. How often do you look strangers in the eye?  Time and time again, I’ve caught myself muttering ‘thank you’, or ‘excuse me’ to strangers when I’m out and about, without actually taking the time to look at them and acknowledge them as a person. I don’t know why this is. It’s like I don’t have time to look up, make eye contact with them, and utter a genuine ‘thanks’. Instead, it’s all done in a hurry, eyes at the ground, muttering a platitude and then I’m on my way. This year, let’s try slowing down and having a look around us. If you’re saying thank you to someone, try looking them in the eye and meaning it. The connection you’ll make is more powerful than you think.
2.       Assume good intent. It amazes me how often we assume negative intent in those around us. Like when we’re in our cars, people are all too happy to beep abusively if you dare to drive too slowly or don’t notice the green light. We make big judgements about people that queue jump or use their phone at the park while watching their kids. But we’re all just people trying to go about our day. If we were to meet over a drink, we’d probably find we have loads in common. We might even become friends. Let’s do our best not to assume that people we don’t know are full of negative intent. Let’s assume they’re just like us.
3.       Own your decisions. If you have spent time weighing up the pros and cons and have come to a decision that works for you and whoever is involved with you, then that is your decision and you don’t need to justify it. If you have an opinion that differs to someone else’s, you don’t have to change it, or apologise for it.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading all the comments that online forums get, it’s that there are lots of opinions to be had, and each one can be just as compelling as the next. Stand proud and stick to what is true for you.
4.       Don’t think it, say it. Have you ever looked at someone, and thought what they’re wearing looked nice, or you liked their bag/shoes/book they’re reading, or thought their baby was super-cute? Well, try saying it to them. Offer the compliment, ask where they got it, ask what the baby’s name is. Chances, are the person will engage with you, and be flattered by the acknowledgment. Plus, you might find out where to get your hands on those shoes. If they don't respond as you'd hoped, that’s ok. You've more than likely made a positive impact on that person anyway. They just need time to process the warm feeling in their tummy.
5.       Practice random acts of kindness. This is an oldie but a goodie. I remember when this was all the rage, but as a practice I think this has died out. We are too busy on our phones to bother holding doors open for others or helping someone pick up their dropped coins. But how fantastic is it when someone lets you go ahead of them in a queue, or gives up their seat for you on the bus? Or when you get a wonderful compliment out of the blue? There are websites dedicated to ideas about how to practice kindness. Some ideas are brilliantly easy, like complimenting good service, renewing an old friendship or sending a thank you note.
6.       Be polite. Good manners never go out of style, and can make such a difference to someone else's day. Use them at the supermarket, at the cafĂ©, anywhere that involves interaction with other people. It shows respect for others and also indicates how you’d like to be treated. I think it also sets a great example for our kids.
7.       Don’t expect thanks. It’s easy to get caught out on this one. Do you get wound up when you let cars out in front of you and they don’t give you the thank-you wave? People aren’t always going to react how we think they should when we do something nice, or show them respect. That’s ok. They have their reasons. Some poor souls are still grappling with the art of common courtesy. Don't buy into it. YOU know you did a good thing, and that's the only reward you can count on. Anything else is a bonus. If you never expect thanks, you’ll never be disappointed. Conversely, when you do get the thank you, you’ll feel pleasantly surprised.
Good luck with whatever of these you decide to try in 2015!  At the very least, I hope you get a kick out of trying something new, and with a bit of luck, you'll get some great feedback for it.
Big happiness wishes to you all for the year ahead x

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