15 New Year Resolutions of Happiness

January 1st, 2013 by Tatiana

Happiness. What does this word mean? It has roughly seven billion meanings as it means different things for each person on our planet. What does happiness mean to you? Personal achievements, career, relationships, adventure, material possessions, family,  comfort..?  Not long ago I got a book called “Happy. Secret of happiness from the cultures around the world” by Lonely Planet, which speaks about happiness and the ways to achieve it, giving examples of how different cultures invite happiness into their lives.

As we move into the New Year, people tend to make New Year resolutions. May one of them be “Happiness” for every single one of us. I picked up the most appropriate examples for me from the book, which I hope will guide me and you too towards a happy 2013.

1. Put on paper what would make you happy and this will help you to walk in the direction of your dreams.

In Japan, people decorate Shinto temples with wooden plaques called ema, on which they write down their desires and hopes for the gods to read. Expressing your desires in concrete terms helps them seem more achievable and narrows them down to a set of clear goals.

2. Keep your mind simulated.

On Saraswati Day, Balinese Hindus pay homage to Saraswati, Hindu goddess of knowledge and learning. They dress in ceremonial costumes, pray for increased wisdom and bless the books with offerings of flowers and incense. Lifelong learning helps you expand and grow.

3. Face your fears to overcome them.

Can you imagine doing a bungee jump, and using vines instead of a rope and hitting the ground rather than water, while doing it? The locals on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu have a tradition called N’gol when the boys in order to prove that they are worthy of being a man, have to launch themselves off a tall tree onto the mud. If you fear something, it’s time to climb your N’gol ladder.

4. Prioritise your mental well-being over your financial success.

In 1972, King Wangchuck of Bhutan introduced the phrase “Gross Natural Happiness”, the spiritual well-being of the nation, which according to him, was more important than the Gross National Product. Today Bhutan is a happy place which managed to ensure that capitalism didn’t erode its traditions. Take example from this country and place less emphasis on physical acquisition and more on preserving your mental health.

Gross National Happiness (http://www.happybhutan.bt/)

5. Give away something you value to appreciate how lucky you are.

On Tokelau, one of the world’s most isolated archipelagos in the Pacific ,the tradition of inati – sharing – is practised by laying out the fresh catch on the beach and distributing it between those who need it most. Rather than focusing on your own progress and needs, help others and take a moment to realise how fortunate you are to be in the position to offer some help.

6. Dress yourself up to create beauty when you see none.

Nomadic groups in Mali, Niger and eastern Senegal spend their days crossing the desert with their belongings piled high on their donkeys. Despite the heat or rain, they always look pretty in this lonely landscape. The Woddabe women are dressed in long red dresses, their hair is braided with pink and silver and their eyes are lined with a bright blue. Even if you have no intention of leaving the house, dress up and don’t fade into your surroundings.

7. Get things off your chest with like-minded others.

In Germany, friends, colleagues and just strangers meet at Stammtisches to talk, discuss their experiences, express what is on their minds, get a fresh perspective on the subjects of their interest. Nowadays there are groups on virtually every subject all over the country. Find people to talk to!

8. Accept yourself and others for who you and they are.

In Mexico, each November, the Festival of the Authentic, Interpid Danger-Seekers is celebrated by the Zapotec people who believe in muxes, a “third sex”, made up of both gay and transgender people. At the festival they dance in colourful skirts and thrive in the whole town’s attention as they are admired for their beauty. Love yourself for who you are and remember that someone somewhere thinks you are absolutely great!

9. Have a goal and work towards achieving it.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, known as The Way of St James, is a Catholic pilgrimage through France and Italy, leading to a church in a tiny Spanish town. Nowadays it is often attempted for secular reasons, to increase fitness and to spend some time in on-the-road meditation. Just as pilgrims, set your eyes on that distant mountain and push beyond your limits to get there.

10. Learn to be self-sufficient in order to  feel self-empowered.

In Australia, when young Aboriginal boys reached adolescence, they were sent off on a walkabout: a lone journey into the outback for half a year. They had to find food and shelter from the rocks and trees and thus developed a deep self-awareness that only came from solitude. They left as boys and returned as men. Gain confidence in your own abilities, and take comfort in knowing that you can rely on yourself.

11. Recognise and celebrate your accomplishments.

The Crop Over festival, celebrated in Barbados to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour, dates back to the 1780s, when plantation workers celebrated the end of the sugar-cane harvest. It is their most important cultural festival involving parades, partying, dancing, calypso music and a costumed procession through the streets.  Reflect on how far you have come and celebrate it – you’ve earned it!

12. Consider your words before someone takes them to heart.

On Chi Kou, the Day of Dispute, which is the third day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, all festivities are put on hold. People stay at home to regain inner harmony and withdraw from interaction to avoid conflict or go to temples to pray. Count to ten when you are about to explode and carefully consider the impact of your words!

13. Discover what’s deep inside with a physical challenge.

Just like they do in Queens, NY, during the 3100 miles Self-Transcendence Marathon – the longest footrace in the world. From June to August, in the space of 52 days, runners must complete two full marathons (52miles) every day.The marathon was founded by Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy as the test of survival and endurance. Set yourself a challenge and achieve something that is difficult for you!

14. Spend time with the family to understand your context.

The Mongolian New Year is a time for families to reconnect and honour the elder members of the clan. Parents and grandparents are greeted with a clasping of the arms known as a zoglokh. This gesture icludes the passing of a blue or white silk scarf, representing the clear sky and purity of the soul. Sons, daughters and grandchildren say the words of respect to the elders and recall their wisdom, compassion and generosity.Reconnect with your families as it gives you a sense of place and a better understanding of where you fit.

15. Let your resentments, worries and sadness go.

Loy Krathong is a Lantern Festival, celebrated in Northern Thailand in November, during which thousands of candle-fuelled paper lanterns drift away into the night sky, creating a warm amber glow, as these symbols of worry and anxiety are let go. Write down on separate pieces of paper what bothers and irritates you, read it out loudly, then make a ball of it and shoot out of the window.

These are just some examples from this excellent book. If you want to read more, and I highly recommend it, you can buy the book here.

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