Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? I hope not. They rarely work. In fact, there’s a high probability that you’ll fail and then become so discouraged that the problem you wanted to resolve will worsen.
One reason why New Year’s resolutions are notorious for failing is that they almost always focus on eliminating something negative rather than increasing positive behaviors.
You’ve probably struggled for many years with an issue you’d like to change, only to find that your bad behavior ultimately prevailed.
Instead of resolving to find a way to change a bad habit, consider using the resources you already have to expand on a satisfying activity in your life.
Think about what would happen if you developed an aspect of your life where you’re doing OK, but would benefit from experiencing even more success. You already have some skills that could be profitably engaged to enhance your involvement in that activity.
Increasing the amount of time you spend behaving in ways that bring you fulfillment leaves you with less time for messing your life up. After a few months you’ll have created an upward spiral in which the positive elements of your life are growing and the negative dimensions are diminishing.
In addition, your satisfaction level will soar, giving you even more energy for making good things happen.
Consistently achieving good results has been found to be the best way to build self-confidence, according to Harvard psychologist Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She found that not performing poorly twice in a row was essential to maintaining confidence. That requires redoubling your efforts to make something good happen if you’ve experienced a setback.
Right now you have both good and bad things going on in your life. That will never change, but you can tip the balance by managing the thoughts that are occurring in your mind.
You get more of what you pay attention to in your life. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on what you’re doing to keep things going well and on riding the waves of positive emotions that accompany success.
Those wonderful waves of positivity don’t last forever. The problems of life eventually rear their ugly heads. And when they do, you’ll have to deal with them.
But the key to having a happy life is to resolve problems with as little suffering as possible. That means not giving the negative emotions that accompany difficulties a home in your head or in your heart by dwelling on the past, blaming someone in the present, or fretting about the future.
When something bad happens to you, your mission is to get past it as soon as possible.
Time spent holding onto your righteous indignation rather than practicing forgiveness extends the period during which you must endure the hurt in your heart. Energy spent on blaming yourself or others only prolongs suffering.
Bad stuff happens to all of us. Give yourself a moment to hurt, then find a solution to make yourself feel better.
The happy life you’re looking for is here right now just waiting for you to embrace it. It’s not coming someday when you win the lottery, lose 30 pounds or get a promotion at work. It’s not going to happen when your wife has finally paid her penance for the affair she had three years ago or your husband finally stops criticizing you.
Happiness is based on the choices you make, not on what other people do or fail to do.
Happiness only happens in the present, not in the past or future. Enduring problems until they pass or planning to be happy someday distracts you from making yourself happy now. Of course you have to plan for the future and resolve problems from the past — but neither of those actions will make you happy.
Looking forward to being happy in the future seems inviting, but it’s an illusion. You can’t count on something happening someday to provide for the satisfaction that’s currently eluding you. Life is passing you by while you’re waiting for something good to happen.
Happiness involves your inner state of mind, not the state of your external affairs. Abraham Lincoln had it right when he said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Happiness comes from using your energy to create a life that’s passionate, meaningful, and loving right now. Here’s my recommendation for having a Happy New Year — do at least one thing every day to make it happy.