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10 Great New Habits to Make Happiness Last All Year

1. Forget Resolutions, Set Goals

It’s well documented how New Year resolutions don’t work. With the start of the New Year and our optimism and motivation are at their peak, we feel energised to start afresh with getting rid of old habits. The reality is that very few resolutions are successful long term. This year instead of the usual wish list of new habits, create a strategy. Set goals of what you want to accomplish throughout the year and work back with smaller mini goals or milestones. Ensure they are realistic and manageable. Focus on achieving your milestones and remember to celebrate as you do throughout the year.

2. Be Authentic

As humans, we need to connect socially and emotionally to others. Authenticity improves the quality of these connections and leads to more satisfying and fulfilling friendships and relationships. You will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Check in with yourself often, strengthen your inner compass and be genuine about thoughts and feelings. Accept we are all different and focus on being authentic rather than fitting in. Fewer deep connections are much healthier than many shallow ones.

3. Have Self-Compassion

While it’s easy to feel compassion and empathy towards our children, spouse, family and friends, we rarely show ourselves the same understanding. Over-thinking past decisions and constant self-criticism are some of the biggest invisible negative habits we do. Like any habit, it can be broken once we are aware of the triggers. Start noticing how you talk to yourself, it’s so automatic that it may be difficult at first. Practice turning your critical voice to one of forgiveness and compassion. You will feel better and do better, promise!

4. Have Gratitude

It’s been scientifically proven that the practice of gratitude strengthens our hearts and changes how negative or positive we perceive our lives to be. This is a fun one to with the family. Start a gratitude jar with the kids. Every day in the evening each write out something you have appreciated and pop it in the jar. Include acts of kindness, simple experiences like feeling the warm of the sun and little achievements like cooking a healthy meal from scratch. Appreciate time spent with family members and friends however little. Periodically, as fun activity or pick me up, take out and have a read of all the things that help you be thankful in life.

5. Learn Something New

Our brains are made to process new information and derive meaning from new experiences. Make a plan to give your brain something new to think about. Consider taking up a new hobby or sport, attend a class, visit a museum or cultural centre or sign-up for structured online learning. There’s a huge number of free courses available online through iTunesU, EdX and TedEd. You never know where it could lead you!

6. Practice Mindfulness

It seems that very expert is promoting meditation and mindfulness these days. The reality is that the practice of focusing on the present moment can help you have a more objective outlook and contribute to the reduction of stress, depression and anxiety. Its creates a mental space that allows you to develop more awareness and control over your feelings, thoughts and behaviours. It’s daunting to know where to start. There are no rules. Look for guided meditations in apps and online that focus on the theme or state of mind you want at the time. Start short and gradually increase the duration. Remember it’s a practice and there is no wrong, only what is right for you. Be patient and persist with it, you will feel the benefits.

7. Give Back or Give Forward

We all know how good it feels to give gifts be them gifts of time, affection, appreciation, special occasions or just for the sake of it. Acting from kindness has been proven to contribute to our levels of happiness. Giving back in a reciprocal manner is great but how about giving forward. Next time a stranger does something kind for you, why not spread the love and give forward at the next opportunity you have, as well.

8. Do Something Meaningful

We value our lives and are more satisfied when we feel we have purpose and meaning. This isn’t about having a career or a job, it’s about contributing to a community or society in a way that is meaningful. Offering to help someone else, volunteering at a school or hospital, mentoring junior staff, teaching someone else a new skill. With a little creativity for new ideas, the sky’s the limit with what meaningful things you can do.

9. Play

It’s so easy to get caught up with our busy lives centred around keeping up with chores, work, school, activities, homework…It can sometimes feel like a never ending to do list. Every now and again, block off time to enjoy the simple act of play for the sake of play. No life lessons, no meaning, just fun and maybe a little silliness.

10. Let Nature Take Your Breath Away

This one’s a biggy. Imagine that feeling when you are out in nature in a landscape so breathtakingly beautiful. Take a trip to somewhere that fills you with awe and wonder. If you think that’s difficult to find in the UAE, you are mistaken. From Jebel Hafeet and the Hajar Mountains to mangroves, wadis and the Arabian Gulf, there’s plenty of natural beauty to discover locally.

Rania Laing is a Personal Change Expert and an ICF Certified Executive Coach with The Change Associates based in Dubai Knowledge Village. You can contact her on +971 4 390 2217.