As the holiday season winds down and the calendar switches to a new year, it’s natural to take stock of where you are and what you can improve in your life. It’s no surprise that many people have the same resolutions every year: exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, or learn something new, like a language or musical instrument. Most people try to become a better version of themselves to find higher levels of happiness. As if being happy isn’t enough of a reward in itself, it turns out that happy people also live longer.
Implementing deeply rooted habits and practices leads to a sustained sense of happiness. So whatever your resolutions or goals, strive to make them lifelong practices versus temporary fixes.
10 Ways to Be Happy in the New Year
Here are ten of the most effective ways to ensure that the new year is your happiest yet.
1. Practice Mindfulness
At its core, mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening in the moment. It’s being aware of your physical body, feelings, thoughts, and surroundings. And that awareness — taking time to appreciate a vivid sunset, an elderly couple walking down the street hand in hand, or a smile from a stranger — will make you feel good. Even eating with intention, chewing slowly, and noticing the colors and flavors on your palate is a form of mindfulness.
If you want something deeper, try mindfulness meditation. Sit in a quiet place, clear your mind of other thoughts, and concentrate on your breathing. As you inhale and exhale, you’ll feel more calm and centered. I like to say, "you have to win the mornings." In other words, start your morning with a regular meditation practice and with intention. This will set the rest of your day right. It will change your brain for the better.
2. Find Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life. Just making the daily journey from home to work can be stress-inducing. To make life more manageable, make a list of the things that cause you anxiety, and when you’re relaxed and in a good mood, review your list to see what you can change.
If cooking dinner every night stresses you out, prep meals ahead of time and freeze them to make the weeknight dinners easier. If traffic makes you tense, look into public transit, carpooling a few days a week, or telecommuting. If your relationship causes tension, take time to evaluate the stress points and find ways to reduce them, whether through better communication or the help of a trained counselor.
Laughing more also reduces stress. So enjoy your favorite comedy show, and laugh with friends and family. Laughter is good medicine! Due to the importance of a good night’s rest for stress, make sure you optimize your bedroom for sleep. See our article on the importance of sleep and how to get more of it.
3. Feed Your Gut
There is an intricate connection between your brain’s grey matter and the gastrointestinal tract. It’s called the gut-brain axis. The condition of your gut can influence your mood, ability to think clearly, stress levels, and immunity.
Feed the healthy microorganisms in your gut daily with probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, or coconut-milk kefir. Add in beneficial enzymes from papaya and ginger root, plus fiber from chia seeds, avocados, and Brussels sprouts. A plant-based diet is the ideal way to eat for best gut health.
With these healthy changes to your diet plus adequate water, your microbiota will keep the gut-brain axis working as it should. I recommend taking a high-quality probiotic supplement with multiple unique strains and 75 billion CFU, such as Floratrex™. The healthier your gut is, the happier you’ll be.
4. Detox Your Body
Even when you’re thoughtful about your diet, everyone gets exposed to toxins in the environment. They come from many sources: scented candles, household cleaning products, pesticides, and drinking water. The liver, kidneys, and colon are your body’s detoxification organs. But you can kick the process into high gear by cleansing at least twice a year.
The benefits are immeasurable. Mary H. recently spent a week eating a vegetarian diet that included fermented foods, seaweed broth, wheatgrass juice, and organic coconut water along with walking near a river each morning. "The first three days are rough," she says. "But on the third day, you have a breakthrough. Your skin takes on a glow, and you start to feel more energetic."
Global Healing’s six-day Colon Cleanse Program™ is an excellent place to start. You’ll eliminate foods that cause inflammation (dairy, meat, and wheat flour) and flush your intestinal tract with an oxygenated colon cleanser, like Oxy-Powder®. The final step is to replenish your system with a detox-friendly probiotic, such as Latero-Flora™ with Bacillus laterosporus.
5. Exercise Regularly
We often focus on the physical benefits of exercise, which include improved muscle tone, cardiovascular benefits, and weight loss. But exercising has essential benefits for our mental health, too. People who exercise regularly experience less stress and stay in a better mood.
Engage in at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, such as biking, gardening, or walking the dog. Add in two days of strength or weight training, as well. Any physical activity helps offset the health risks of a sedentary life. And when you exercise, it has immediate health benefits, such as lowering anxiety and blood sugar. You can’t beat that! Getting outside for exercise helps even more, especially if you can walk or run in nature.
To make your habit stick, get a workout buddy! Working out with someone else will make you more likely to keep up the routine. Social connections also improve your happiness, so you get a double dose of joy.
6. Do a Complaint Cleanse
As someone thinketh, so shall they be. Ancient sages knew that positive thoughts have a lot of power to shape your reality. Likewise, if you spend your time focusing on irritations, annoyances, and what’s not working in your life, you can easily find more — and these negative thoughts can bring you down.
Poet Cleo Wade suggests spending a week where you refuse to utter a single grumble. This is known as a complaint cleanse. If you think of something negative, don’t give it energy by verbalizing it. Instead, think about solutions to any issues and express gratitude. For example, if you dislike cleaning the toilet, shift your framework to giving thanks for indoor plumbing, a home to live in, or a healthy body with which to clean with. You’ll feel empowered, and your mindset will shift to one of positivity. The more you look for silver linings, the more you see them.
7. Practice Positive Affirmations
Do you remember in the movie "The Help," when the maid played by Viola Davis repeats, "You is smart, you is beautiful, you is important," to the neglected little girl in her care? Those were affirmations, also called mantras.
Repeating positive phrases brings healing. They also help people stick to their health goals. Visualize and affirm what you want to be true, not necessarily how you feel in the moment. The idea is to create the reality you desire through affirmation and positivity.
Some statements you can try include: I am healthy. I am strong. I am light. I am calm. I am centered. I attract success. My life is beautiful.
8. Feed Your Spirit Daily
Just like you feed your physical body every day, your spirit needs nourishment, too. No matter what religious tradition you follow, we all need to take time to feed our souls with uplifting ideas, inspiration, and hope for a better tomorrow. Doing this allows us to connect our souls to God or a higher power. Prayer and meditation are also ways to connect with the divine.
Spiritual growth includes improving your life, as well. After I finish meditating in the morning, my family and I spend time daily in spiritual development, which involves practicing gratitude, forgiveness, and emotional growth. We often listen to inspirational YouTube videos by spiritual and motivational speakers we admire. Some people like to set aside time to read their religion’s spiritual books, such as the Bible or Bhagavad Gita. Reading or watching uplifting works of art acts as a reminder that we all have a larger purpose in this life. This is food for your soul.
9. Express Gratitude
The word gratitude comes from the Latin gratia, which means "grace." Imagine how going through life with a sense of grace would change your interactions with everyone you encounter?
Taking a few minutes each day to list the people and things in your life that you appreciate makes people feel happier, healthier, and more optimistic. Write in a gratitude journal daily. Even in the darkest of times, you can find things to be grateful for. When you are down, starting or ending your day with that bold act of hope can quickly shift your state mind.
10. Develop a Self-Care Routine
Taking care of yourself does not have to mean spending money on expensive spas. Nor does it need to take a long time. The key to happiness is not in one-off self-care rituals, but rather engaging in self-care on a regular basis and creating a routine.
All of the ideas that we mentioned above — meditation, cleansing, affirmations, spiritual development, and so on — should become part of a regular daily routine. Start simple. Find the one you want to start first, commit to it, and make it a habit before beginning the next. For self-care efforts to pay off, you have to engage in them regularly. Don’t neglect to make a good night’s sleep a part of your self-care routine. You need seven to nine hours of restful slumber every night.
Points to Remember
Real happiness is intrinsic — it comes from within. Happiness starts with a healthy body and a mind that focuses on positive and uplifting ideas. Slow down and stay mindfully aware of your life, so it does not slip by.
In a nutshell, you can start your journey to happiness in the new year with positive affirmations, gratitude, daily spiritual development, and eliminating stressors from your life. Try shifting your mindset with a “complaint cleanse,” where you go a certain period of time without expressing any complaint. Happiness also involves physical health. Exercise, try a detox, and create a healthy gut with probiotics such as fermented foods or supplements. A plant-based diet will help, as well.
Taking these steps and recognizing and appreciating the good things you already have in your life will lead to a happier life! The start of a new year is a great time to engage in new resolutions and practices. Make them a part of your daily life throughout the year — it will change your world around!
- Lawrence EM, et al. Happiness and longevity in the United States. Soc Sci Med. 2015;145:115-119.
- Holzel BK, et al. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Res. 2011;191(1):36-43.
- Chang C, et al. Empirical study of the influence of a Laughing Qigong Program on long-term care residents. Geriatrics & Gerontology International. 2015 Feb;15(2):165-173.
- Bested A, et al. Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchinikoff to modern advances: Part II – contemporary contextual. Gut Pathog. 2013;5.
- Hamer M, et al. Physical activity, stress reduction, and mood: insight into immunological mechanisms. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;934:89-102.
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd Edition. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Published 2018. Accessed 23 Dec 2019.
- Springer A, et al. Leveraging Self-Affirmation to Improve Behavior Change: A Mobile Health App Experiment. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2018;6(7):e157.
- Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counted blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003;84:377-389.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.