A Year of Happiness

by Cindy Norcott

At the start of every year, armed with renewed vim and vigour, I decide on my theme for the year. Last year was my “Unstoppable” year and unstoppable it certainly was, with the publishing of my book, “How to be Unstoppable”, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro and snow skiing in France to name a few of the exciting things I did.

After such a challenging and exhausting year, I decided to change track a bit in 2015 and my theme for the year is “My happiest year yet” and I am on a mission to become the happiest person I know. I certainly believe that in life, we are more likely to get what we expect than what we want so I am expecting happiness. Looking around, it appears to me that a lot of people could benefit from aiming at being happier. In case you would like to be happier this year, I am sharing some of the things I am committing to in 2015 –

I am making a decision every day to be happier, regardless of what happens to me. I must say that this is quite a challenge with daily load shedding happening at the moment. Happiness has more to do with a choice we make than with our external circumstances so I have made a decision that my happiness won’t be determined by my circumstances.

I am reminding my face that I am happy and I am smiling more. Smiling is contagious and it helps you connect with others. The act of smiling actually makes you feel happier. When I am concentrating, I tend to frown and I have become more mindful of my facial expressions when focusing on tasks at hand.

I am creating margin – I am allowing myself breathing space in the work week to think, reflect and pause, instead of racing from one commitment to the next in a jam-packed diary. Reducing my stress will make me a calmer and happier person.

I am focusing on building relationships with friends and family. Research shows that 85% of our happiness comes from our relationships. If that is the case, it makes sense then to focus on our relationships. Are there important people in your life who you have neglected or taken for granted? Why not make a list of your important people and then set goals for what you would like to do with them and for them in 2015? What about more date nights with your spouse? What about having those long lost friends around for dinner? What about picking up the phone or sending an email?

Give more. The act of giving raises serotonin levels, making you feel better on a chemical level. In South Africa, we have so many opportunities to make a difference. I have decided that every day, I will look for an opportunity to be kinder. I love the saying, ‘Never suppress a generous thought”. It can be a simple thing like giving someone a heart-felt compliment, offering a hand, giving a lift, giving to someone in need. Having been involved in charity work for the past ten years, I can honestly state that giving to others has contributed greatly to my personal happiness.

I have started a gratitude journal. Every day I write down one new thing that I am grateful for. I read a quote recently that stated “What would you have tomorrow if you woke up with only the things that you thanked God for last night?. Oprah said ‘If you focus on what you don’t have, you will never have enough. If you focus on what you do have, you will always have enough”.

My happiness journey is a work in progress and I intend to make 2015 a fun, enjoyable and joyful year. I do hope some of my suggestions will help you have an awesome 2015.