Grandma and granddaughter India

Our New Year’s Resolution: Be Happy

happiness smile

Before you click off this post because you can’t take hearing about New Year’s resolutions anymore, we urge you to simply consider the possibility of creating positive intentions rather than setting superficial goals that may expire as quickly as they came to mind. We’ve put together a short list of small intentions that, we hope, will inspire happiness to warm your life and the people around you.

1. Do something kind for someone else once a month

We’ve all heard of “Paying it Forward”, so why not use the New Year as an excuse to put this philosophy into practice?  The next time you see someone in need, offer a hand. Give up your seat on a crowded train for the elderly person who just walked on, or volunteer at one of your local charitable organizations for a few hours a week.   If we all take small steps such as performing one act of kindness per month, that would amount to 315,094,952 acts of kindness in the U.S. alone and more 7 billion acts of kindness every month, worldwide!

2. Be Mindful

Stop sweating the small stuff.  Take time each day to focus on the present, that is, where you are at this very moment right now while mindfully appreciating all that you’ve been fortunate enough to experience. We recently came across a well-written book that can help you move towards finding this inner peace and clarity. It’s titled Mindfulness in Plain English.

Grandma and granddaughter India

Photo: by h0lydevil

3. Experience something new every month

Add some variety to your life.  Break those daily, monotonus routines that can suffocate us with negative thoughts. Try new foods (chew each bite slowly and with your eyes closed letting the pleasure of all the flavors and spices seep into you mouth and body); take that yoga class you’ve been promising yourself you’d go to for the past two years; or if you’re looking to experience new cultures, check out our guide to some of the best places to “Get Cultured”.

 4. Start a Gratitude Journal and write down one thing that you’re grateful for once a week

“Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.” (The Change Blog)

be happy

Photo by KoshyK

 5. Smile 🙂 Maybe even Try Laughing

A recent study published by Psychological Science took a look at the benefits of smiling. “The results of the study suggest that smiling may actually influence our physical state.” The study’s findings “show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.”  In the report, Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas suggests that “the next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment. Not only will it help you “˜grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”

What Makes You Happy? Join this discussion and help make 2013 a kinder, gentler and happier year for all.

With love and gratitude,

Maria and Anthony

anthony and maria

Feature photo by Kamsky

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The Culture-ist