The start of a New Year is always filled with setting goals, making plans, and listing resolutions. Looking ahead with optimism and aiming for achievement. What accomplishments do we want to reach? What successes? Whether it is related to our personal lives or our careers, ambition is the driving force.
While this is a critical component to satisfaction, I am wondering if after the year we have all had, and the way this year has started, perhaps we need to adjust our focus. After the stress, crisis, and chaos of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021, perhaps we all need to aim for peace and happiness in 2021.
The good news is that there are so many small things we can do to get us closer to this goal. There is also an abundance of research and information out there on happiness and satisfaction. Some of my favorite resources are:
- The book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- The book Thrive by Arianna Huffington
- Habits of Incredibly Happy People from forbes.com
- The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
But one of my favorites is a quick list of things to do every day from happify.com:
Whether you call this mindfulness or being present, there is truth to the fact that so many of us go through the motions of our day and miss out on the small and fulfilling experiences that fill our lives. That first sip of a steaming, perfectly made cup of coffee in the morning. The smell of freshly cut grass. The way the sunlight streams through a window. If we look, our lives are filled with these mundane yet miraculous moments. Research says if we take a moment to savor them, our joy increases and stress decreases.
There are so many opportunities each day we all have to thank someone for something they did. A stranger who held the door open, or the delivery person bringing our latest on-line order. A genuine thank you will not only uplift them, but us as well. And even in the midst of a crisis, there is usually something we can find for which we can be thankful. It is that silver-lining in a seemingly negative situation. A sink full of dirty dishes? My family had food to eat. Not being able to visit a loved one? I am keeping them safe. Training ourselves to notice the good, as well as to be aware of the tiny kindnesses done each day by others, shifts our perspective.
Simply put- what is your wish for the day? Start the day out by choosing one thing to which you aspire that day. One thing. Make it simple and make it related to your joy and happiness. Nothing related to your work or what you want to accomplish. Simply an aspiration. To smile more. To take some quiet time with your child. To listen. Once we have that aspiration set, we have a focus and are more likely to do that small thing which can bring us joy.
What can you do today for someone else? How can you make a positive contribution? It could be small like picking up trash on the sidewalk during your morning walk. Or maybe something more directed, like picking up your housebound neighbor’s groceries. Or maybe just giving someone a few moments of your time to really listen to them when they need it.
Looking at others with grace, kindness, and understanding. Realizing that most people are doing the best they can with what life has given them. Being less judgmental is extremely powerful.
Wishing everyone peace and happiness!