HAPPY NEW YOU!

MAKE 2015 THE YEAR OF GIVING TO YOURSELF AND TO OTHERS

Nothing marks a fresh start better than a new year. So why not make 2015 all about creating a Happy New You? That’s right, an entire 365 days dedicated to giving to yourself and to others in the pursuit of happiness. Here’s how.

Reward yourself

Whether you’ve been working hard, finished a project, broken a personal best or recently celebrated a special life event like having a baby, finishing your studies or getting married, there’s no better way to treat yourself than with a little reward.

It can be as simple as flowers, a pedicure, or a night out with your partner or friends or – should the occasion call for something a little grander – champagne or a pair of earrings you’ve been eyeing out. It doesn’t have to be fancy or overly indulgent, just choose something that will brighten your day.

Learn from your past mistakes

We all make mistakes, but the most important thing to do is to learn from them and try not to repeat them. Make 2015 a year of positive change and growth. Acknowledge what you may have done wrong, make amends and give yourself permission to move on.

Nurture relationships

Life can get busy and sometimes among all the stress and noise, it can be hard to find time for all the people you know and love. This year, try and make nurturing the important relationships in your life a priority.

Send your partner a text to let them know you are thinking of them during the middle of the day. Spend time with your children when they get in from school and talk about their day. Schedule social catch-ups with friends and extended family at least once a month. Call your parents to see how they are. Send a card to a friend or family member who may be going through a hard time to let them know you are thinking of them. A small gift of jewellery can be a special item will be cherished for years to come and will remind the receiver of a special connection or moment you shared.

Share what time you can – people will appreciate and acknowledge that you’re making an effort to keep in touch and be in their lives.

Be positive

The ‘Is the glass half full or half empty?’ analogy is a well-known one. This year aspire to be a ‘half full’ type of person. Choose to think the positive over the negative in situations, to see the best in people, and practice gratitude for what you do have (instead of lamenting what you don’t). Smile and think positive thoughts. You’ll be surprised at what it reflects back at you.

Are you ready to start enjoying a Happy New You?

FIVE LESSONS FROM THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD

We all know meditating can quiet the mind, but a recent study has found meditation also vastly increases our capacity for happiness – so much so that Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has been named the happiest man alive.

Ricard, a 68-year-old Frenchman who once worked as a molecular physicist in Paris, abandoned his academic career more than 40 years ago to study Buddhism in India. Since then he has clocked up more than 10,000 hours of meditation and evidence shows it has forever altered his brain – for the better.

Richard Davidson, the neuroscientist who conducted the study on Ricard, found that when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain showed he has a vastly increased capacity for happiness, reduced propensity towards negativity and a far greater ability to concentrate, learn and memorise.

Matthieu Ricard’s five lessons on happiness

When it comes to meditating and happiness, the proof is in the pudding thanks to Ricard’s pioneering efforts. So, what lessons can we learn from the world’s happiest man?

1. Meditate for at least 30 minutes a day. After a month, your stress levels and general sense of wellbeing will have noticeably improved. “Those who say they don’t have enough time to meditate should look at the benefits,” Ricard says. “If it gives you the resources to deal with everything else during the other 23 hours and 30 minutes [of your day], it seems a worthy way of spending the time.”

2. Focus solely on the sound of your breath coming in and out during meditation. It’s calming for the mind and promotes clarity. Let any thoughts that enter simply drift away.

3. Focus on a feeling during meditation, such as compassion or all-consuming love. Ricard says consciously and actively cultivating these feelings means they will stay with you long after you have finished your meditation session.

4. Extend the mindfulness you cultivate during meditation into other areas of your life. When you get angry, for example, becoming aware of the anger is a sure way to make it dissipate simply because you are no longer adding fuel to the fire. The same goes for anxiety and negativity. Simply noting to yourself that you’re feeling anxious or negative makes these feelings slowly disappear.

5. Happiness is not about euphoric experiences. Happiness is a way of being and a skill to be cultivated.

What makes you happy?.