Resolutions are usually about mustering up your willpower and tackling something difficult in your life. But, becoming happier? How hard can that be? Plenty.
Life is stressful. We try to cram dozens of must-do tasks into too-little time. Even in restaurants, stores, and our cars, we are multi-tasking on our phones and devices, yet we never feel caught up. When was the last time you sat down and read a couple of chapters of a book, just because you wanted to? Or spent an afternoon doing nothing or just hanging out with your kids?
I can hear your response now, “I don’t have time!” Maybe we have to make time. I found out the hard way at a recent doctor’s visit. I was quite surprised when my routine blood pressure test showed abnormally high results. This condition doesn’t run in the family diet, so I was mystified.
The doctor explained that stress is the number one cause of high blood pressure, along with diet. I hadn’t even considered it, but I do worry a lot. There is my disabled husband to worry about, the kids (even though they are adults), running a household on a shoe-string budget, and now my health.
Here I was worrying about everyone else and completely forgetting about me. I felt selfish even thinking about myself, yet it finally dawned on me that my family would be much worse off if something happened to me. So along with changing to a no-salt diet, adding lots of fruits and vegetables, and exercising more, I resolved to just say no to worry and strive to be happier.
When has worrying about something ever helped? Does worry make the tree not fall on your house? Does worry stop bad things from happening to your children, your parents, or your friends? No. So to stop myself from worrying, I came up with a list that may help you as well.
The Happiness List
1. Quit worrying about something that happened in the past. You cannot change it; no one can. To quote a familiar song, “Let it go.”
2. Quit worrying about mistakes you have made. Sometimes you can fix things now, but you cannot change the fact that you made the mistake. Learn from it and move on.
3. Quit feeling guilty about choices you made in the past. Whether it was a bad decision or not, you cannot change it. Just strive to make better choices today.
4. The future is another source of worry. Will something bad happen soon? The truth is that maybe something bad will happen, but worrying about it will not change anything. Learn to focus on the here and now and let go of unfounded worry about the future. My favorite mantra is “it will work out.”
5. Finances are a huge stressor for many people. Money is an integral part of our lives and not having enough is a tremendous worry. You can lessen the worry by taking specific steps to protect yourself and your family.
6. Pay down any outstanding debt. Having unpaid bills is hugely stressful.
7. Start and keep an emergency fund. Even if you can only put $ 25 a month away, do it. It will grow and be there when you need it. Don’t put it off; start today and your peace of mind will grow with your fund.
8. Get adequate insurance for your home, car, and life. Knowing you are covered is a huge weight off your shoulders.
9. Pay attention to your health. Get insurance that you can afford, whether it’sthrough work or the online Marketplace. If you don’t, one trip to the emergency room could wipe you out financially or leave you paying it off for years.
I recently suffered a fainting spell and ended up getting taken by ambulance to the emergency room. After two hours, I was released, but the bill almost put me back in. The total was upwards of $ 6,000! Luckily, my insurance that I just got this April kicked in and my portion is around $ 400. It just shows you how high the bills have gotten for people who don’t have insurance.
10. Budget your money so you know exactly where it is going and how much you can spend. Budgets are like a map to your financial goals. Staying on track will ease your mind considerably.
11. Quit worrying about things you cannot control! Stop imagining the worst and concentrate on what you can do today to make your situation better. Tell yourself that it will be okay.
12. My number one tip is to be thankful for what you have. When you focus on the good things in your life, you are less likely to dwell on the negative. Having a gratitude attitude creates an abundance of blessings in your life and leads to more happiness.
So is happiness a worthy resolution as we start this new year? I say that it is! Say yes to letting go of the past, yes to better money management, and yes to a happy new you!
Shaunna Privrasky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for her free newsletters at The Discount Diva. She also frequently writes for TheDollarStretcher.com. Visit today for more on overcoming financial stress.