So it has been goodbye to year 2016 and welcome to 2017. The beginning of a new year, like the start of any new phase, is always pregnant with hope: hope of a good life. But unlike the start of most other new phases, the onset of a new year has a more personal involvement. Many of us begin the new year with new or renewed resolutions (because most resolutions stay unfulfilled year after year!). But someone said that it is easier to change ourselves than to change the world. Changing ourselves is certainly under our control whereas changing the world may not be. So, here are 7 things (and they are the new game changers) that we can do to change ourselves so that we are on a roll in 2017, no matter what happens around us in the world.
- Caring. Being caring is the best way we can be happy. Kind behaviour raises our oxytocin levels, and that makes us feel fulfilled, eventually increasing our productivity and effectiveness. Being caring is not that easy however. Constantly buffeted by the changes in our hormones and the pressures of the environments, the mind hurtles us up and down the emotional roller coaster. Devilish emotions, such as anger, irritation and jealousy, are always sitting in our nervous system waiting for a chance to catch us unawares. One wrong word, sight, taste, smell or touch is enough to trigger them and cause the damage before we realize. Only by consciously working on our egos, mood swings and expectations can we increase our caring behaviour.
- Smaller meals. So what diet is to be followed? Atkins, Paleo, Bulletproof, LCHF or Sugar impact? Like carbohydrates, excessive proteins and fats can also be harmful. If it is all very confusing, let’s KISS (keep it simple sweetheart!). Just junk aside all the theories, and try out small meals. Eat what is available, but eat in small meals, whenever and only when hungry. Pretty soon, you will notice amazing health benefits and improvements in emotional state.
- Deep breathing. Studies have established links between respiratory health and other diseases including those of skin, digestion and mind. If you are trained in Pranayama, keep at it. If not, try deep diaphragmatic breathing every day for at least 15 minutes. You will be amazed by the health and emotional benefits that follow. Deep breathing is more beneficial than one has realized. It is going to be the new game changer. So, be with it, and stay ahead of the curve.
- Curb the cravings. It is now very clear that happiness is not really linked to what you have. Rather it is linked to what you think. Happiness is not just in achieving great feats. Happiness lies in doing everything we do, no matter how insignificant or routine, with best efforts and in mindfulness. Happiness is in savouring every moment of the present, just as in every sip of exquisite wine rolling over the tongue and lingering in the mouth. You can have all the wonderful things in life and still feel miserable. Of course, you need to have certain things in life, but beyond a point, obsessing over what we don’t have never helps. Cutting down on the tendency to accumulate or keep acquiring more things in our life is a sure-fire way to be happier and less stressed. Less luggage makes the journey enjoyable. Do it, and you will see what I mean.
- Walk. The easiest way to be healthier and happier is to walk at least 30 minutes on most days. So, keep walking. But walking with the head sunk in thought is losing half the benefits. So, make sure you walk in mindfulness for added benefits. The past is beyond our control, and the future is unpredictable. What’s in our control is only the present. So, let’s give the present our best shot!
- Cut those extras. Smoking affects respiratory health, which is the key to the health of the autonomic nervous system. Surprising as it may sound, kicking the butt has more benefits than we can imagine, apart from increasing longevity. Less known is that it can dramatically improve digestive, skin, respiratory and joints health. There is increasing evidence that alcohol has more deleterious consequences than we thought. The harm is not just for the body but also for the mind. Limiting the alcohol does not mean the thrill of life is lost. On the contrary, the improved emotional state makes us happier. Studies are showing increasing evidence of link between alcohol and depression, poor quality of sleep (unbelievable but true), and even cancer. Going by the same token, let us minimize processed food and increase our intake of fresh food with no or minimal cooking.
- Enjoy the journey. Over the years, there has been an increasing fixation over results. Nothing could have been more detrimental to our happiness. It is time to shift the focus from the results to the process. Perfect the process, and the results will follow on their own. Enjoy the journey with mindfulness without dwelling on the destination. In the process, if we lose the rat race then so be it, because who wants to be a rat anyway? This shift will make a dramatic difference to our emotional well-being, and in the long run make us more effective and fulfilled.
Follow these 7 steps, and let the good times roll in 2017.