5 Priorities for Being Happy & Well in 2010

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

I wish I could take credit for that line as it is an original and thought-provoking piece of advice. It was actually part of a commencement address delivered by Apple’s Steve Jobs several years ago. I especially like it because of its simplicity. In today’s world of constant change and excess data, being able to make the complex simple is a gift as well a trend that we should all take to heart.
So, in the spirit of simplicity, here’s the best advice I’ve got for what you can do to be happy and well in 2010. They’re also the five priorities I’m going to try to embed within my own life.

Find community.

Be active.

Live in the moment.

Keep learning.


Find community in your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. These connections enhance and enrich our lives and are foundational to happiness. They don’t always just happen so you may need to work at it. Investing time in developing relationships at home, work, school or in your local community pays excellent dividends as research shows that happy people have strong social relationships.

Be active. Exercising makes you feel good. Make sure you find a physical activity that you like and ideally, someone to do it with. It will also need to be one that suits your level of fitness.  Ideally do it outside, but do it. Walk, run, dance, move.  I promise it will be worth it. All that research that shows regular physical activity is associated with better physical health as well as a greater sense of well-being and lower rates of depression and anxiety, can’t be wrong.

Live in the moment. Remind yourself to pay attention to what is happening around you. Be mindful, be curious. Pay attention to sunsets, changing seasons, the wisdom and joy of young children, the sound of music, the tranquility of a bubble bath. Savour the moments with family and friends. Listen and look carefully. Studies show that being aware of what is taking place enhances well-being and savouring an experience can help you understand and reinstate your priorities. 

Keep learning. Evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout your life will enhance your confidence and self-esteem, encourage social interaction, and increase your life satisfaction and optimism. Sign up for a course, ask for new responsibilities at work, learn to play a musical instrument, try out some new recipes, read some challenging books, research a topic you want to know more about, join a community group, dust off your workbench and build something. Set yourself some new goals and go for it.

Give. Do something nice for a family member, friend, or even a stranger. Volunteer for a non-profit organization you value, write a thank you note to someone who made a difference in your life, smile, pay more compliments. And yes, the research says that those who help others are more likely to rate themselves as being happy and that well-being is enhanced when an individual is able to achieve a sense of purpose and contribute to their community.

While it may not always be easy to make the changes that will ensure happiness and well-being, the most important thing is to have the courage to try. And, if it’s true that happiness is a direction not a place, we at least have a map to help get us there.   

Posted on 01-03-10

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