Keys to make 2017 your happiest year ever

By Gale Mote / Guest Column

As I write this column, 2016 is coming to an end. It’s been a year full of achievement, disappointment, mystery and wonder for all of us, I’m certain. Now, as I look to the year ahead, I am determined to make it my happiest year ever and wish the same for you.

Research from Multi-Health Systems and the emotional intelligence assessment EQ-I 2.0 has identified four significant behaviors that contribute most to overall well-being and general happiness. They are: self-regard, self-actualization, interpersonal relationships and optimism. In 2017, I am going to focus on how to develop each of these skills and raise the bar for success.

To build self-regard, it is important to remind ourselves of our appetites and abilities. When we spend time exercising our strengths, our confidence grows and we become even more excited about putting in the time to practice. In the process, it is important to learn from our mistakes and not dwell on past failures. Take time to read materials on topics you are passionate about, attend classes that develop mastery around what you already do well or find a mentor and work together to share best practices.

Self-actualization is your desire to want to grow and be involved in activities that contribute to a full and meaningful life. The danger here is to chase too many shiny objects. Create one area of focus, establish a couple realistic goals and then be disciplined about executing your plan. You cannot say “no” unless you have a bigger “yes” burning inside of you.

There is always enough time – it is simply matter of making good choices that align with your mission. Don’t get distracted – stay on target! Be realistic and remember that habits require repetition and reinforcement. It is absolutely acceptable to set new goals – just be sure that you have made solid progress on what you have already set out to achieve. There is no satisfaction in multiple starts and no finishes.

Interpersonal relationships is making time for social investment. When life gets chaotic, we do just the opposite – cancel breakfast with an old friend, reschedule date night with our partners or eat lunch by ourselves. We are human only in relation to other humans. We need to be open to establishing new relationships while nurturing those we treasure most.

In 2017, I will do more good and be good. I will be a role model for understanding, peace, patience and acceptance. Pay it forward, show an interest in others and participate in random acts of kindness. As Stephen King said, “Don’t let the sun go down without saying ‘thank you’ to someone, and without admitting to yourself that absolutely no one gets this far alone.”

Finally, no one ever damaged her eyesight by looking on the bright side. Pessimism is a learned habit – consciously making choices to point out what’s wrong and complaining about what is broken, scanning the world for the negative. Optimism is the ability to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.

I will not be naïve – I will have faith, hope and love. I will be grateful for the many blessings in my life. I choose to be a bucket filler, generating positive emotions rather than be a toxic vampire. Owning my behaviors without blame or excuses will build trust and generate respect. Focusing on solutions rather than whining will move conversations in a positive, productive direction. Remember that success comes in cans, not cannots!

I wish you great success and happiness in 2017 and always.