TEN STEPS TO HAPPINESS
Here are some ideas to add to your new year's resolutions that form ten tips for optimism as gathered from some of the great optimists of the world.
1 Be kind to yourself. Know that it is natural to have negative feelings from time to time. Only by accepting these feelings and not being afraid of them can we learn to be really optimistic.
2 Listen carefully to your inner "chatter". See if you can catch yourself in full negative mode: blaming yourself, blaming others, exaggerating situations, or panicking. Observe these negative thoughts and the feelings they give rise to.
3 Notice how this inner "chatter" makes you feel: would you let someone else talk to you like that? Would you talk like that to someone else?
4 Take responsibility for your feelings. This is the first principle of optimism. Your feelings, however they started, happen inside you and only you can decide how to react to them.
5 Think about how you can help others, if you don't already. The delightful side-effect of this is that you start forgetting about yourself. Anyone with children will be familiar with this already.
6 If you find yourself compulsively checking the news bulletins, stop. Our addiction to bad news feeds off our boredom and negativity - and the news repays the favour by feeding us with fear and anxiety.
7 Take practical steps to take care of your basic needs: rest, routine, work, companionship, freedom and flexibility. And enough holiday.
8 Practice some variety of energy management to keep your emotions (and your hormones) on an even keel: exercise, sport, yoga, therapy, dancing, or just jumping up and down on the spot.
9 Develop appreciation. Before you fall asleep every night, try thinking of three things that went well in your day. In psychological trials, this simple exercise has been proved to raise levels of subjective happiness for sustained periods.
10 Finally, have fun. It's a long road, and you've just begun.