Make happiness a priority in the New Year. It's all about making choices and enjoying the journey.
One of the regrets of the dying is that they wish they'd allowed themselves to be happier, realizing, finally, that happiness is a choice. I hate to be morbid, but it's something to think about. Life is short. Here are a few things you might consider for more happiness in the New Year.
• Establishing a goal of being happier makes a difference. It's that idea of choice mentioned by the dying. If you think, I can't be happy because [fill in the blank], you are not establishing a goal of happiness. Similarly, I will be happy when…, though it establishes the possibility of happiness, also implies that, I will not be happy until… You will be happier if you simply decide that happiness is important, possible and something you will work toward.
• Do things you think you will be happy about. Need I point out the obvious? Do not do things you think you will be unhappy about. There are no guarantees here, since it's clear that often we don't know what will make us happy. Nevertheless, thoughtfully considering whether something is likely to make you feel happy because it fits with your values, interests and strengths, is a good start.
• Savor things that are positive, even small things. Hearing your favorite song on the radio. Playing with your kids. Making someone smile. When you allow things to go by too fast, you don't truly enjoy them. But it's more than slowing things down. The more you try to notice and savor positive things, the more positive things you notice.
• Do what you love. Please don't say you can't. Maybe you don't get to do it 8 hours a day and maybe you don't get paid to do it. But don't let that stop you. Maybe you're tired of waiting for your big break. Writers often write after they finish their day jobs; think Kafka. Actors wait tables until they get their big break. If you want to run a marathon, go for it. No regrets. No giving up.
• Accept the things you cannot change. In fact, embrace them and figure out what you're going to do about them. It's not about changing them (remember, they can't be changed), but about changing how you deal with them. Crises are in this category, and they're opportunities for change and growth. Let them snort when you make lemonade out of lemons. It feels a whole lot better than drinking the lemons straight.
• Choose experiences over things. We'll always have Paris, but those Jimmy Choos, no so much. Things don't last and, if they do, they'll be out of style. Paris is always fashionable. Even that dream house is not going to feel as dreamy as time passes. But the hiking trip you took with your best friend and the time you saw the Eiffel Tower as the sun set (yeah, I have a thing about Paris), these are things that stay with you, make you smile years later and can feel transcendent.
Ask yourself how you're doing in each of these areas to jumpstart your happiness journey. Then ask yourself to identify one small thing you can do to pump your happiness up a notch. It's a new year. The clock is ticking. Paris is waiting.