So how has your start of the year been? Mine has been a bit rocky – and new year resolutions are awesome… but often turn out hard to keep (and some may turn out to be quite a stupid idea to begin with). However, there are a few things that can really make this year a happier, healthier and more fun year for you. So here are a few tips (mostly based on the urbangay happiness challenge).
- Learn a new language. Many language courses start in February (for example at many universities). That is an ideal way to rewire your brain to a completely different perspective, have mind-opening conversations – and travel like a local where the language is spoken. The other good thing is, once you signed up to classes it is quite hard to quit…
- If you don’t feel like learning a new language, you could just go easy(er) on yourself and pick up a new hobby: from stamp collecting to running, meditation or tantra. New skill – new you.
- Whatever you do… ditch your TV. OK, maybe keep a Netflix account for those emergencies of a Netflix and Chill date … but seriously: TV robs you of the time you could spend with friends, make new connections – or even have fun with your new hobby. And seriously, when was the last time you saw something actually worth watching on TV ?
- Avoid negative people. Yes… simple trick to make you more happy: avoid those that constantly bemoan the cold January, the state of the world economy or just the fact that the coffee they are drinking isn’t organic. Seriously, there is no better way to make your day worse than surrounding yourself with negativity. So… ditch the moaners. And say hello to people who realise it may be cold – but above all it is sunny!
- Start a challenge… OK, admittedly this backfired a bit on me. But starting a challenge is a great way to keep you motivated. And you can create a challenge on pretty much anything: from reading to running. Or whatever it is that you are doing. Think who can collect more stamps in 30 days… you or your friend? – or can you both keep up with going fro three runs every week (btw… remember to join here!).
- Volunteer. I wrote about this before… it is really one of the best things to kick start a happier you: volunteer. Especially, when doing it regularly: it is also a great way to meet new people. So what are you waiting for?
- Use To Do Lists. This one keeps you focused: First rule, write a To Do List before you go to bed for the next day. Like that you know exactly what to do the next day and get up with energy to “get things done”. Also, don’t forget, those lists can inspire some other areas of your life, like your sex life 😉 .
Do you have some more tips for a happy 2017? Why not share them below? Remember… whatever day it is, you can always kickstart a better year. 🙂 And, please, let me know how you get on!
Yes… Today marks exactly one week since I arrived in Lisbon. The first week went seriously fast… I imagined it to be quite slow, and I would have lots of time to do things … but things didn’t work out quite that way.
I spent the first week volunteering at a film festival, which was exciting in some ways and interesting in others. It was fun to meet different people, including some who moved here from abroad and made Lisbon their home – and to hear what tips they had for settling in and their impressions. What struck me was that all of them appeared very positive about living here, and all were glad they made the move – even if it mean much lower wages than in Northern Europe. But everyone commented on the much better quality of live, the vibrant cultural scene and generally amazingly friendly reception they received. The only “downside” was the complexity of Portuguese… nothing surprising there (it really is a complicated language to learn!).
I’m currently living in São Bento – close to the Parliament building, and next to Bairro Alto, Chiado and Principe Real. This is very much central in Lisbon – and close to almost everywhere. The film festival is in Avenidas, the main Avenue on the other side of these three areas. I decided to walk a different way to “work” every day, walking though various backstreets of Principe Real or Bairro Alto: Of course, while Lisbon isn’t a large city (or at least nowhere as big as say London) I still haven’t managed to see many parts… but at least this gave me chance to explore the neighbourhood and surrounding areas I’m in in more detail.
I also had three friends visiting briefly from London, so there were a few opportunities to catch up – and it was great to see them. The common thing everyone remarked was how (positively) surprised they were about Portugal – and how Portugal is really underselling itself abroad. It was quite interesting that all of them talked about this as a major point… and all of them have sworn to come back and explore more. So there is definitely something there.
The festival is still on until Saturday – so I’ll still be working a bit for the rest of the week. I’m looking forward to watching a few movies and working – and then hopefully I’ll be a bit more settled next week to write again more regularly and work more on the projects I have lined up.
Meditation is said to have many positive effects: from more energy, less stress and more focus to increased immunity. As the SWIPES analysis of my life had brought to light, I was pretty much totally missing out on the spiritual aspect of my life. Hence, I decided to establish a morning meditation routine – and here are a few points I have considered and learned. Continue reading “How I established a morning meditation routine”
Moving to a new city is exciting. And it also means having to find new friends… which can be a daunting task – especially as an adult and working from home… I know from my SWIPES analysis that friends and an active social life are very important to me… I literally get grumpy when I’m left on my own for too long. So I need to address this as a high priority point as soon as moving. Thus, I came up with a few strategies I’ll use when getting to Lisbon (of course, you don’t have to move cities to use these strategies – they work just as well “at home”). As some of these strategies have already worked well in London for me, I’m quite hopeful I can do something similar in Lisbon. Though first, two strategies which seem popular and easy… Continue reading “Four Alternative Ways of Meeting New (not only gay) Friends”
While the SWIPES areas (or rather dimensions) are useful to define broad areas of a balanced and happy life, the first challenge was to apply these and start designing a possible plan for change. This was, of course a deeply personal exercise. In this post I describe how I used the framework to design my person “reset” and “reboot” – of course, please bear in mind that this may be a quite different process for you – it may be more gradual, it may be more rapid – and of course, the actual goals and visions are likely to be very different.
The aim of this first exercise was to start “planning”: while it would have been easy to jump to individual actions (do more sports? Eat more veg? Read more?…), many of these Continue reading “Pre-SWIPES work: Listing all the good things”
When I first took a closer look at my life I realised that the easiest way to achieve positive change was to divide life into several categories – those that were essential to designing a happy and healthy life. Using an approach of looking at life in categories has the advantage that I could quickly see where I was doing well, and where I needed to focus on. It also helped me to create a life vision – and where I wanted to be vs where I was.
Coming from an academic background, my first step was, of course, to start reading what others had written about this. Unfortunately that wasn’t an easy task, as many people seem to have written about it – claiming some sort of research base – but often never seemed to have gone through rigorous testing, let alone peer-review. There is a whole Continue reading “Redesigning my life: the SWIPES framework”