10 Little Things You Can Do to Be Happier and Healthier

Enthusiastic senior woman with arms outstretched in sunny field
Enthusiastic senior woman with arms outstretched in sunny field

We are almost three months into 2016, and that got me thinking about how everyone's New Year's Resolutions are coming along. So, how about yours? Or did you even make any resolutions at all? I am not one who does. Not because I don't believe in change or self-improvement. But rather because when something is important to me, I don't wait until January 1st to make the change. I believe we should all be focused on doing things to improve ourselves and our lives on a regular basis.

But many people don't like change. Moreover, they find change scary and uncomfortable -- or sometimes even daunting. They see the end result and are excited about it, but then when they really think about all the steps and level of commitment it will take to get there, they give up.

And this is not just true for personal changes. Professional changes count as well. In fact, I just had lunch with a friend today who helps small businesses write business plans, get funding, and basically get up and running so they succeed. And he was telling me about how many of these people never follow through once they realize all they will have to accomplish in order to achieve their dream. And it's pretty sad that so many people give up.

And that got me to thinking that I should write about some of the things I do in my life that make (and keep) me happy. And also some of the changes I have been making. So here's a little of my advice about how to make some small changes to your life -- so they will actually stick.

Being/Staying Healthy:

1. Put your food on a smaller plate if you need help not overeating.

It sounds simple, and perhaps even silly. But I do it all the time! Even though my conscious mind knows I'm eating on a small plate, my eyes also see and process this message: "that's a full plate of food!" And "I ate everything on the plate!" Somehow, that switch in perspective makes it more mentally satisfying. But you're really eating less than you would on a large/average sized plate.

2. Count calories.

Like many people, I have tried many different diets to lose weight. From Weight Watchers to the Atkins Diet, I have done most of them. But you know what? I have found that the most effective way for me to lose weight is to simply keep track of the calories I'm eating. That way, you can eat a variety of foods (unlike some diets) and still indulge once in a while since you're staying aware of how many calories you are consuming each day. A lot of people eat unconsciously, so if you get into the habit of counting your calories, then you can calculate how many you need to stick to in order to get to a healthy weight.

3. Don't buy junk food.

I have my mom to thank for teaching me this one. Growing up, we never had chips, sweets, soda, or anything like that around our house on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong -- we weren't health nuts. But the "junk food" we did eat was a treat. Once in a while we would eat a hot fudge sundae or make cookies. But it wasn't a regular occurrence.

4. Start juicing.

This is one that I'm just working on. While I don't buy junk food and am pretty conscious about what I eat, sometimes I'm not as healthy as I could be. I have a couple of friends that I work with who are big fans of juicing, so I thought I would give it a try. The problem is that I had no idea how to do it (I'm a terrible cook). So I had to do some research on it from what kind of equipment is best for it to what types of food are best to juice. Hopefully this information can help you too.

How to Be/Stay Happy:

5. Focus on what you have, not what you don't.

We live in a very negative world. I know you're thinking, "duh!" But think about how negativity also programs our talk (and self-talk). Many people complain all the time and focus on what they don't have, and what's wrong in their lives. Instead, try focusing on what you DO have and what is going RIGHT in your life. This will definitely shift your focus away from misery and toward happiness.

6. Re-frame everything.

If you think your life is rough, then re-frame it. Like if you think you're not being paid enough at your job, keep in mind that most people in the world have an income of less than $750 a YEAR. Suddenly, you feel rich, don't you? As bad as you think things are, I'm guessing that someone, somewhere in the world has it a lot worse than you. So instead of looking at the things you don't like in your life as problems, think of them as learning opportunities.

7. Take personal responsibility.

In addition to the negative thinking that is rampant in our world, many people also have a "victim mentality." For example, I can't tell you how many times a student of mine says, "I need an A in your class." It's almost like they think I hold the power to how well they do in the class. I just teach. They are the ones who need to take responsibility to do the work. The same is true in your relationships. Own up to your actions (and encourage other people to do the same), and then you will find yourself in more peaceful, loving relationships.

8. Don't take anything personally.

Just because someone insulted you and called you an "idiot" doesn't actually make you an idiot. What they say about you is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves and how they view the world. Sure, maybe they do think you're an idiot. But that's not your problem. If you think you're doing your best and behaving with integrity, then their opinion of you shouldn't matter. So don't give them the power to upset you.

These are just a few of my ideas for how you can make some small changes in your life that will lead to some positive results. I hope you read something here that you can use to make yourself happier!