Happiness

You Know You Want To: Be Happier in 2017

We have all seen a post similar to this – ‘2016 is rubbish so hurry up 2017’

It’s as though we’re imagining, in comfort, that our future 2017 self will be happier than our sad, sad self from ‘rubbish’ 2016.

But what are we doing to make our 2017 self happier? It isn’t just going to happen because the number on the end of the year changed and the new year brings with it a new waft of happiness in the wind.

Trump will still be in the White House. Brexit will begin to take shape. May will still be trying to clear up the mess Cameron made with his cocky referendum.

We just have to tweak the way we think and act in order to be happier.

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The thing is, according to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, 30-40% of our happiness is actually controlled by the way we think and act, while genetics account for 50%, and life circumstances such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation account for 10-20%.

So, while half of our happiness depends on our genetic build, just 10-20% of our happiness is controlled by life’s circumstances. This is why we’re so affected by the repercussions of the political situations mentioned above. This is all, I might add, while we head towards the self-destruction of humankind because of our failure to maintain the planet and someone gave Trump the code to the nuclear button.

Asides from these circumstantial happiness navigators, though, we can actually choose how we think and act to make up the remaining 30-40% of our happiness. This is MASSIVE. Choosing how we want to act and think is quite easy (when in the right frame of mind, admittedly) and a huge determiner of your happiness.

I can only speak for myself in this instance, as only you the individual can assess your access to choice. I know that I am fortunate and am in a strong position to choose how I think and act and have the luxury to be exploring further happiness (as I am already very happy, but who doesn’t like happier?).

I am healthy, as are my family and friends, I love my job, and I have a day in July when I marry the man who I have loved for 8 out of my 27 years on this earth (turning 27 on 27th January FYI – just in case you wanted to send me a card).

I definitely have a choice to be happy and a choice in the way that I react to life’s circumstances. I therefore choose to change the way I think by practicing small snippets of mindfulness.

So after a lot of reading, I discovered a simple day-to-day mindfulness practice, which you can do too. Take 30 seconds sporadically throughout the day to acknowledge all 5 senses in a moment; smell, taste, see, hear and listen.

I have found that this makes you feel wholly present, reduces stress, and can improve memory, which I am fearful of losing, as you’ve probably discovered through reading other posts!

You begin to acknowledge moments in your day that would ordinarily just pass you by. This is especially true of the habitual such as brushing your teeth, waking up next to the one who you love, or cooking dinner.

Don’t you just find that these habitual moments fly by as fast as the speed of light? This bit of easy mindfulness, though, can make it all slow down. It’s perfect for when you really want to remember the moment, too. There is nothing more relaxing than remembering how happy you felt when you opened your eyes and listened to the snore of the man spooning you.

It is these snippets of happiness that we take for granted, but will soon enough be stacked up like a warehouse of good memories completely overriding the negativity caused by certain life circumstances, such as Trump.

Take this moment of mindfulness for an example, and so I can show you the venue I had the privilege of exploring on Friday 20th January! A friend who is also a colleague got married on Waiheke Island. Our small and lovely team got ready and caught the ferry together! We had a few wines crossing the Huraki Gulf, which for my European readers has waters as blue as Greece, before taking a taxi from the port to the absolutely stunning venue. Prior to other guests arriving, we sat with a few bottles of Mudbrick rose looking at this view:

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There the 7 of us sat with this backdrop towards Auckland having a good laugh with tasty wine in our hand and the sun shining on our faces talking about mindfulness. So there we were, cynics included, smelling, tasting, seeing, listening and touching. It was the perfect way for us all to remember just how happy we felt at that particular moment.

This is how happy we felt all evening:

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So, give it a go. It’s easy and will hopefully bring 2017 to a happier close than the seemingly sad close to 2016. (To avoid confusion, I must say that I really enjoyed 2016…)

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One thought on “You Know You Want To: Be Happier in 2017

  1. The world is full of guidelines to make us happier isn’t it? I read a book a long time back called The Four Agreements which dealt with things you can do and choose to be happy, namely Being impeccable with your word, not taking things personally, not making assumptions and always doing your best. Takes work but probably true.

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