Inner peace: Six simple ideas for living happier in 2016

Saving money and staying fit are traditional New Year’s resolutions, but overly packed schedules and the materialistic focus of modern day life are inspiring a new goal for many people: to live happier in 2016 and beyond.

Mental health is directly related to physical health.

For most of human existence we have viewed the mind – the head – different from the physical body of the neck down. New research is showing they have everything to do with each other.

If you want optimal physical health, you need optimal mental health and happiness. When people are happier they tend to improve all aspects of their life.

1. Make sleep a priority

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is critical for the body to produce hormones that trigger happiness.

Always go to bed with a positive attitude. If you go to bed angry, worried or stressed, that tends to come back the next day. Do what you can before bed to reset your mood. Read, take a bath, exercise or talk face-to-face. Try to avoid screen time.

2. Make more time for family

Over the last 20 years, family time has vanished. Sporting events, projects, work and technology have swallowed it. Family face-to-face time is the most important part of a healthy family relationship and happiness.
Plan a family dinner two to three times a week. When we start to eat dinner as a family in the home, our health and happiness will follow.

3. Carve out whitespace

Whitespace is time you dedicate to yourself to refresh, unplug and rejuvenate. This could be making time to do yoga, enjoy a hobby, read, meditate or take a bath.
People who have hobbies and activities that give them balance tend to be happier. If your hobby is texting, checking social media or watching TV, this will set you up for a feeling of emptiness. These things are fine in short periods, but too much will take away what life is giving us.

4. Achieve work-life balance
With the expanse of the Internet and mobile commuting, workers are now connected more than ever before. But this connectedness can get out of control when answering emails 24/7, so work-life balance is important for overall happiness.

We all want to be successful, but with anything you need proper balance. If you look at professional athletes, the best ones try to find activities outside of their sport that help them stay hungry, engaged and excited. Find things that help you create balance in your life.

  • Don’t check email after 8 p.m.
  • Go on a date night or family night
  • Exercise at a time that fits your schedule
  • Walk during lunch
  • Schedule a massage once a month

5. Fuel happiness from within

The world seems to have more behavior and mental health issues than it should, and a big part of this is the lack of proper nutrients. The most important nutrient when it comes to brain health and mood is omega-3s.

America is one of the most deficient countries when it comes to omega-3s, with an estimated 91 percent of people not getting enough.

6. Embrace gratitude

Thinking of the things you are grateful for can have a dramatic effect on your satisfaction and overall happiness. Do this daily as you wake up or make it a conversation you have with your children right before bed.

Telling yourself you are grateful for your health, family, friends, job and life gives you that pat on the back we all need. A lot of the time , we don’t tell people how much we appreciate them until they are gone. Everyone should write a handwritten letter to one person each year who made a huge impact in their life. They may not know or maybe you don’t tell them often enough.