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by MindJournal - 12 mins
A new year is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself for the better. And there's no better force for change than positivity.
Whether you're looking to learn a new skill, cultivate compassion, or generally excel this year, our pick' n' mix tips will help you reach higher and further for a happier, more successful, and more balanced 2024.
Let's get started.
It's a good idea to start as we mean to go on, welcoming positivity into our day by listing everything we're grateful for. Not only will this help shift your focus away from the negative, but gratitude can boost your self-esteem, benefiting your happiness and relationships with others.
Being kind has a double benefit: not only do you give yourself a chance to make someone's day, but research has shown that it stimulates our own 'reward centres', giving our brains a happy glow powerful enough to fend off negative thoughts. Win-win.
Happier people generally tend to experience greater success in life, but you don't have to lead an idyllic life to feel the benefit. One study found that practising positive emotions for just a little bit each day can lead to greater life satisfaction.
A recent study found that those of us who plan ahead are happier in our family relationships, more financially secure, and less stressed about work. It's also efficient: taking twenty minutes to plan your day over your morning coffee can help set a clear direction, maximising your time and ensuring you stay on track with your goals.
Having an exciting date in the calendar can give us a sense of direction, optimism, and hope, all contributing to feelings of happiness. It's a self-feeding cycle, too: these feelings of optimism mean we're more receptive to positive emotions, which can lead to improved mental health.
There’s loads and loads of scientific research proving the myriad benefits of exercise on body and mind. When it comes to happiness, regular exercise can even help prevent depression and anxiety and help you sleep and think better, too, which is nice. Time to dig out those running shoes?
Life is all about learning, so we may as well be open to absorbing as many new skills and as much information as possible. Best of all, evidence shows that continuing to learn drives our wellbeing and creativity, as well as boosting confidence. Why not start with a good book?
Finding the time to get to know colleagues or neighbours (or even check in with family) can be tricky, but there’s a good reason to do so. Studies show people with strong interpersonal relationships are happier, healthier and may even live longer. Plus, having a wider social network can boost feelings of belonging and support.
According to Harvard Medicine, happiness is indeed contagious. In other words, surrounding yourself with positive people can inspire you to feel happier, and your uplifted mood will re-inspire them in turn—the perfect excuse for a midday coffee break with a friend.
Don’t wait for the big promotion: according to the Harvard Business Review, celebrating even small wins can significantly affect how happy and fulfilled we feel at work. Take this into all areas of your life to boost all-round satisfaction.
Comparing ourselves unfavourably to others – be they colleagues, friends or family members – can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, guilt and remorse. No one needs that. Focus on your own wins and strengths to build a stronger sense of self.
A solid morning routine sets you up for the day and gives you the opportunity to look forward to what's ahead. While stretching your muscles, savouring a cup of coffee, or journaling your thoughts, thinking ahead to that lunch with a friend or the end of a project helps us focus on the good things to come.
There’s no such thing as a perfect day. We all have to deal with moments of stress, be they a noisy commute, an ill child, or an overbearing boss. By acknowledging these feelings, discussing them with others, or noting them in a journal, we can let go and move through our day with clarity.
Not every project will go exactly to plan. When we have to work (or live) alongside others, we’re constantly compromising. But studies show that looking on the bright side can help us to be more open and trusting of others, more open to ideas, and more likely to implement creative problem-solving. In other words, teamwork makes the dream work.
Studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice can reverse the effects of chronic stress in the brain, giving us greater compassion towards others and a better ability to process sensory information. On your next walk to work, focus on what your five senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste—can pick up and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Instead of dwelling on the small setbacks of the day or week, shift your focus to the positive milestones you've achieved this month or year. Just as writing a novel or mastering a new skill takes time, personal growth and goal attainment unfold gradually. Adopting a long-term perspective can help you stay grounded and prevent negativity from derailing your progress.
How we view ourselves can significantly impact our happiness and resilience. Instead of letting mistakes bring you down, view them as opportunities for growth. Studies show that having a flexible self-image and accepting mistakes as part of your identity means you're less likely to carry negative emotions with you.
Humans tend towards a negativity bias, which means we dwell on the parts of life that we aren't happy with. Instead, try creating a WhatsApp group to share positive experiences with your friends - a kind gesture from a stranger, a satisfying accomplishment, or a moment of laughter. Immerse yourself in the shared positivity, and you'll gradually retrain your brain to focus on the brighter side of life.
It’s impossible to make change without actually getting started. “Write down the one action that, when completed, will make you feel like your day was productive and start your day with it,” advises author Frederique Murphy. “Once completed, it will boost momentum that will support you for the rest of the day.”
While we get happiness from spending time with loved ones or hitting that work goal, research shows scheduling time just for you and you alone can have tremendous benefits. Moments of solitude provide a much-needed break from the demands of daily life and enhance your ability to connect with others.
Putting good energy out into the world can make a difference. We all like receiving praise at work and home, so why not give it out, too? “Expressing praise and gratitude is particularly important for keeping up morale,” notes Harvard Business Review. We all love compliments, after all.
Think of boundaries like putting up a fence around your emotional and physical space, keeping out what doesn't belong and letting in what does. It's not about being rude or inconsiderate; it's about protecting your well-being and setting the stage for healthy relationships.
Studies show that expectations, whether negative or positive, can impact your wellbeing, so let them go, especially if they come from outside. If your boss wants you to level up to management, but that isn't for you, ask who you are living for. And course correct accordingly.
According to Harvard Business Review, even small rewards can motivate us to go the extra mile. At the same time, other research found that regular rewards increase dopamine levels in our brains, helping us feel happy and improving our memory and mood. In other words, yes, you do deserve that mid-afternoon Mars Bar.
Volunteering is proven to alleviate feelings of loneliness and is a great way of finding new meaning if you find yourself stuck in a rut. What’s more, a study published in the Journal Of Happiness Studies found volunteers noted higher levels of wellbeing due to having regular social interaction.
Numerous studies have revealed people who get their thoughts and feelings onto paper are more able to handle emotional stress than those who don't. Keeping a journal can help you process stress, clear your mind, and outline positive steps for the future.
Sometimes, we fall into roles because we think it's what we should be doing rather than what we want to do. Use your Balance Planner to take control of your goals and reassess what's important to you and what you need to thrive.
Starting a new regimen is an exciting way to challenge yourself to grow. Whether you're looking to boost happiness, productivity or health, the key is to lead with compassion – both to yourself and others. Never underestimate the power of positivity.
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