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January 28, 2022
By Taira Anderson
It’s the new year and as we compost our Christmas trees, dust off our yoga mats, and dip our toes into the waters of 2022 it’s the perfect time to reset, and refocus. But let’s do ourselves a favor and ditch the idea of “New Year, New You.” The fact is, you don’t need to be a “new you” to feel more positive feelings, or to live a healthier, happier life. Achieving a bit more bliss throughout your day to day is relatively easy, and one key element is that you remain authentically you -- wholly and completely.
So, without further ado, here are five simple (and scientifically proven) ways to cultivate happiness and bliss in the new year:
1. Be authentic and listen to yourself.
It may seem obvious, but the first step to cultivating happiness is knowing yourself well and treating yourself with compassion. Standford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism has found that self-compassion lowers stress, leads to resilience and activates our internal soothing systems leading to feelings of well-being.
There’s no right way to practice self-love and self-compassion. Whether you meditate for 10 minutes in the morning, take a walk through the park while leaving your phone at home, or simply pause during the day to breathe and be still, giving yourself these moments to sit with your thoughts and emotions without judgement and turning down the volume of your inner critic will lead you to deeper self-knowledge and self-acceptance. As Author and Meditation Teacher Sharon Salzberg wisely says, “Self-compassion is like a muscle. The more we practice flexing it, especially when life doesn’t go exactly according to plan (a frequent scenario for most of us), the stronger and more resilient our compassion muscle becomes.” So, start flexing!
2. Don’t stress over the pursuit of happiness, just give thanks for the good things.
Feeling a sense of happiness becomes much more attainable when you realize happiness is not something you have to chase down or wait for – you can create it almost instantly just by pausing and giving thanks for all the good things in your life at this very moment. According to The Greater Good Institute, “many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier…”
Adopting a daily gratitude practice and taking a moment each morning or evening to write a short gratitude letter, or to jot down a small list of a few things you’re grateful for in a journal, can help to decrease stress and negative emotions in the short term and long term, while having a lasting positive impact on the brain. It’s so easy, we might as well begin – what’s one thing you’re grateful for right now, in this moment?
3. Take a minute for levity and laughter.
The saying “laughter is the best medicine” might be cliché, but it is no joke. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter comes along with a slew of health and mood benefits. In the short term, a good guffaw can lead to stress reduction, increased endorphins, and muscle relaxation, and in the long term it can help with an improved immune system, pain relief, and an overall elevated mood.
So, add a hilarious sitcom to your watchlist, livestream your favorite stand-up comedian, listen to a witty podcast, and give yourself permission to be silly, smile, and giggle throughout the day. Embracing humor and enjoying all the LOLs adds a certain lightness and joy to life that nothing else can replicate.
4. Connect with and be kind to others.
We’re all for self-love and self-care but stepping beyond the self to show love and care for others is just as important for your own health and wellness. According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, scientific research shows being kind to others produces serotonin and oxytocin (the love hormone), increases energy, boosts happiness, and even correlates with longer lifespans.
Maintaining connections with loved ones and nourishing long-term relationships have similar benefits. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, the most expansive longitudinal study on happiness, shows that spending time with others and establishing deep, lasting bonds leads to the happiest lives overall. While it is a little more difficult in these times to connect with those who we’re closest with, having a weekly call with your bestie, setting aside screen-free time with your person, or scheduling socially distanced coffee or picnics with friends and family are all small ways to keep these profoundly significant bonds vibrant and strong.
5. Move your body and rest your body.
True, the fact that moving your body improves happiness is not new – we’ve heard it before. But did you know it doesn’t take much movement at all to boost your mood? The New York Times reports that “a new review of research about good moods and physical activity, people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise.” And you can get a bit of a bonus pick-me-up if you take your movement outdoors since spending time in nature reduces stress and lowers blood pressure.
Rest is also essential when it comes to feeling happier. Take it from Laurie Santos, Yale Happiness Professor, “Having a solid eight hours of shut-eye is the foundation on which all the other happiness habits rest.” Now is a good time to banish sleep-disrupting bedroom habits and create a bedtime ritual to signal to your mind and body that it’s time for sleep. We suggest winding down by ditching the screen for at least 30 minutes before slipping between the sheets, sipping a warm cup of herbal tea, and playing our new aromatherapy blend, Bliss – its soothing blend of marjoram, ylang-ylang, and valerian essential oils create a comforting, calming mood perfect for your evening chill time.