To adopt a resolution you have to decide what you want from life.
Well, in 2017, I wish to be … happy.
Happier, to be precise.
Truth be told, I have much to be happy about. I live in London, a cosmopolitan and fascinating metropolis ; I have a job that allows me to continue to learn and grow every day; I work with a committed, supporting and fun team; I have close relationships to my parents and brother; I have friends that feel like second family; I have my health; I am educated; I’m tall enough to reach books sitting even on the highest shelves at Foyles.
However, at times I feel deeply dissatisfied, like something is missing. I tend to forget how fortunate I am, failing to appreciate everything that I already have.
As Gretchen Rubin perfectly sums it up in her book The Happiness Project, ‘I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change. In that single moment, with that realisation, I decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier.’
After I realised what I wanted, I had to figure out how I was going to make it happen. How am I going to make myself happier?
Using Rubin’s book as my source of inspiration, I decided to pick out certain areas of my life that contribute to my general happiness and focus on a different area each month, starting off with the first half of 2017. Research shows that one of the most important elements to happiness is social bonds so I resolved to tackle ‘Family’ and ‘Friends’. Work is also crucial to my happiness, and so is ‘Leisure’ and ‘Passion’. Happiness depends greatly on our perspective so ‘Attitude’ added itself to the list. Last but not least (and ironically the first I resolved to tackle), was ‘Energy’ in the sense of vitality and wellness, i.e. the base for building up the rest of these areas.
January is thus dedicated to boosting my energy; I returned from my Christmas holidays feeling worn out and sleep-deprived from all the running around Athens to meet friends and family, attending parties and running errands. All the scrumptious Christmas food left me bloated and lethargic. Oh yes, January was definitely going to be about restoring my energy and setting me on the right path for the entire year.
As a result, I resolved to do the following things:
- Go to sleep earlier.
Since I started working 9 to 6, I realised how vital sleeping a decent amount of hours can be, not only for my performance at work but also for my general emotional state. When I’ve slept plenty, I’m more focused, more patient and more polite. (And thus more fun to be around.)
- Exercise better.
Last week showed me that, paradoxically, an intense, early morning workout wakes me up and sets me in an energetic mood that lasts throughout the day. Moreover, the thought of having crossed gym off my list already by 9 am, spares me the energy of negotiating with myself whether I actually want/can make it to the gym after work.
(Hidden bonus: The gym is close to work so I get on the tube at around 6.45-7.00 when it’s exhilaratingly empty. More motivation to hit the gym early.)
- Tackle a nagging task.
Don’t we all have this list of nagging tasks at the back of our minds that we’ve successfully been neglecting since… forever? I find the thought omnipresent list exhausting. At the same time, tackling one of this tasks usually feels very satisfying, if not liberating. From unearthing and tossing old university papers that I have no good reason to hang onto to cleaning my inbox, and from fixing that pair of shoes that I love but has been stuck in the back of my closet for the past three months to updating my CV; I’ve resolved to tackle this list head-on
- Organise, toss, restore.
Living in a chaotic environment can be extremely irritating. It usually leads to painstakingly searching for things, depleting your energy resources and causing unnecessary stress. Moving twice in the past two years has turned me into a quasi-minimalist and a very neat person. There’s though always room for improvement, especially if your room is, for lack of a better euphemism, particularly cosy. I’m planning a big ‘keep, give, toss’ act towards the end of the month but I think that spending as little as 15 minutes tidying my space before going to bed helps me relax and makes getting ready for work in the morning easier.
- Cook more.
These holidays I spent a serious amount of time cooking for my family; I’m a ‘social cooker’: I love cooking together with other people or cooking for people that I love. Something that I usually fail to do for myself since I’ve started living on my own. At some point, I came to a sudden realisation: If I cook for people that I love and care about, why do I put so little effort into cooking for myself? As a wise, very food-conscious vegetarian friend once said, ‘cooking for yourself is an expression for self-love’. Cooking per se makes me happy and the idea of nurturing my body with good quality, homemade food seemed to fit the frame of my happiness project. Time to put all these bookmarked recipes to the test.*
These are my January resolutions and the beginning of my happiness project. Looking forward to your comments – do you make resolutions? If yes, what did you resolve to do this year? If not, why not?
Optimistic (as always),