Can you boil down happiness to a formula? Of course not. Happiness is absolutely individual. As I work with people on their own personal happiness strategies, however, there are super clear themes that come through. Happy people who are rocking their lives display many or all of 10 clear happiness principles in their daily life. So you can take your own Happiness Audit in 2013, here they are. We are going to explore one principle each week, so you can make 2013 your happiest year ever.
1. Honour your own health and energy levels as if your life depends on it. Oh - it does! How about that? Happy people take full responsibility for their health and wellbeing and treat self care as the priority it is. My whole column is devoted to this juicy one next week.
2. Be with the right person. Do not settle when it comes to your partner. Forever is a reeeeeeeeeeeeally long time, so, you know, get it right. But, how do you know? Really know? The. One. Does he/she even exist?
3. Make your own choices. Do what feels right for your soul (especially in terms of career choice) not what "everybody" says would be a good/stable/respectable choice for you. No one knows this truth for you better than you do.
4. The thing about life is it's not about things. Invest in experiences, memories, good times, silly times. Travel more, buy less. Experience more, buy less. Laugh more. Try more. Play more. Friends, family, fun.
5. Get out of your comfort zone regularly. The best discoveries in life are usually found there. You are braver, better, smarter, more creative, than you give yourself credit for. Be brave and push the boundaries.
6. Know that no one is perfect. Also that you are "good enough". Whatever the hell that means! Almost all of us beat ourselves up for not being "good enough" in some way but then cannot define what that magical benchmark actually is! It's a ludicrous struggle.
Happy people drop this struggle and accept themselves as fabulous, imperfect beings who are absolutely good enough.
7. Play to your strengths. Life is way too short to be mitigating and working on your weaknesses. Happy people know their own strengths, in a very deep way, and love and accept them and play to them. They don't apologise for who and what they are, they maximise it.
8. Take personal responsibility for your emotional health. Own your own emotional health and know that someone else can't make you feel guilt/upset/angry.
9. Live in the moment. It's a skill, it can be learned. Being more present, experiencing more joy inherent in the present moment is a sure fire route to happiness. Don't worry, you don't have to meditate (unless you want to).
10. Practise emotional honesty. Oh, this is a biggie. Happy people feel their feelings. Which sounds simple but so many of us don't do it, so clearly this is somewhere unhappy people need help. Happy people own their feelings, whatever they might be. They don't cover them up with booze, obsessive exercise, overeating, overworking or any other kind of "over" activity.
Next week, we explore number one: how to look after your body, energy and health. If you have trouble making "I will exercise regularly" New Year's resolutions stick, then this is a must-read!
Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise visit positivebalance.co.nz.