Now is a great time to reflect on the past year, and man what a year that was. January is a great time to reflect and think about what it is you want to change. While I don’t personally advocate for new years resolutions as such, I am a fan of creating new habits. Here are some simple and easy ways to make small but powerful changes to your everyday life in 2021. While i’m not promising instant happiness, these are some great habits that will help to create a greater sense of happiness over time.
One: Pranayama breathing
Breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4, breath out for 5. This stops your cortisol production, which causes your flight or flight stress response. When you’re in flight or flight, your body shuts down many other non-essential parts of the body until we are far enough away from the sabre-toothed tiger to be safe. That’s why that big breath out at the end of the day is so relaxing. A little more information:
- Pranayama breathing app – free.
- Gabrielle Bernstein Podcast – 5 min meditations while breathing to help you focus on particular aspects of happiness: love, letting go, forgiveness, focusing, etc.
Happy people are not always grateful, but grateful people are always happy. While you do your breathing exercises, breath in all the things you are grateful for, and breath out all the judgement and grudges you are holding onto about other people . This allows you to be more in the moment, you become more curious with people you meet or spend time with, and you will be more liked overall. As Tony Robbins said, “you can’t be grateful and angry at the same time”. 
Three: JOMO – The Joy Of Missing Out
(The opposite of FOMO – the fear of missing out). With all that we went thru in 2020, there was a lot of missing out. This has definitely created a wave of people who are now comfortable with the JOMO and feeling good about spending time with friends or family or just kicking back to enjoy a good book. These activities and changes create happiness when there is nothing to compare it too. By turning off your social media feed for 1 day at a time, then 2 days, or just by keeping tabs of your time on social media, you can alleviate the pressure that forms as fear of missing out. There are apps that can block or time your use as well. Fear of missing out is a form of anxiety, and social media exacerbates this, 
Four: Take a good multi-vitamin
So much research is showing fruit and vegetables just don’t have the same nutritional value they did years ago. We need to top up our intake, but many of the multi-vitamins on a shelf don’t have enough of what we need and too much of what we don’t . The best I have found is NOW multi-vitamins on iherb.com (this is not a paid endorsement, just good stuff). They are about 5-10 times stronger than ones being sold in supermarkets, which are so low in V&M they’re barely worth it. They are still a bit low in Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin C and Niacin (Vitamin B3), so if you need a top-up for optimum happiness take these as well. Just for fun, print off the Now multi-vitamins levels and then take them to the supermarket to compare with other vitamins. This will open your eyes to the other dodgy vitamin companies trying to sell you an expensive bottles of not much!
Five: Help someone
Volunteering has been shown to be an incredibly powerful anti-depressant , so look to sign up to volunteer, or help a friend/neighbour with something, as it triggers the brain to give you a shot of the feel-good chemical dopamine. Empowering yourself helps create resilience, and helps prevent helplessness and hopelessness, two key depression problems.
Six: Dig in the dirt
There is a bacteria in healthy soil called Mycobacterium vaccae that boosts serotonin levels in the brain similar to the levels of antidepressants, improving your mood, reducing anxiety and it boosting cognition . You need to get your hands dirty every 3 weeks to keep them in your body.Also, have you met an unhappy gardener? True happiness is an abundant garden. Why not check out 20 ways to detox your body and mind
- TED Talk – Brother David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtBsl3j0YRQ
- Tim Ferris Podcast #186: Tony Robins. “You can’t be grateful and angry at the same time.”
- Trello article on JOMO; https://bit.ly/2C5KFbC
- Christina Crook; The Joy of Missing Out http://www.christinacrook.com/jomo/
Image: Priscilla Du Preez @priscilladupreez