Happiness Advent Calendar

I want to put this disclaimer up front because I know that Christmas is a Christian holiday, and not everyone celebrates it.  But this is not about Christmas per se, it’s about daily things that you can do from the first to the twenty-fifth of December.

It’s the end of the year and all around me people are just hanging out for the Christmas break, or end of year holidays, to rest and recharge before starting 2020.  But there is still more than three weeks to go as businesses knuckle down to get work done before the break, and people start the preparations for that one day that some of us celebrate as Christmas.

So I thought it might help to keep your happiness levels up if for the month of December I give you a list of things to do for yourself on a daily basis, sort of like the chocolates that children are opening out of Advent Calendars. 

Start on the first of December and my sincere hope is that this will take you through to Christmas Day, uplifted and optimistic for the year ahead.

1. You have to be number ONE in your world and look after yourself so that you have the strength and resilience to care for others.  Take time today to do something just for you.  Write it down in the morning and check it off tonight.

2. Reach out to two people in your world today with a phone call, email or hand-written letter.  Make it about them, not about you.

3. Write down three things that you are grateful for today.

4. Do four minutes of stretching exercises – calves, stretch and reach for the ceiling, bend forward aiming for the floor (or your knees, or your toes). 

5. Take five minutes today in the silence to close your eyes and focus on your breath.  Don’t force the thoughts out of your head.  You are human so they will keep coming.  Just gently guide your thoughts back to focusing on your breath – in and out.

6. Read six pages of a book – either fiction or non-fiction.  Try to make sure it is uplifting, or that it will capture your imagination to think outside of your normal life.

7. Take time at the end of today to focus on one really good thing that has happened today.  Journal about it. 

8. Aim to get eight hours of sleep tonight.

9. If you have a sedentary job, or life, make sure you get up and walk around at least once an hour today.

10. Drink at least two litres of water today.

11. Now that you have taken time to do the last 10 days, take the time today to write down what difference this discipline has made in your day.

12. Eat whatever foods you want today, but only eat until you are 75% full.

13. Go through the entire day today without complaining about anything.  Look to see the good in every situation.

14. Carve out just thirty minutes today to go for a walk.  Look around you.  Take in the scenery as if you are seeing it for the first time.

15. Practice the Ritz-Carlton 10/5 Rule today.  If you are within 10 feet of someone, make eye contact and smile at them.  If you are within 5 feet, smile and say hello.

16. Declutter something in your life – your office, your bedroom, a cupboard, your magazine rack.  Get rid of what you don’t want or need.  It is holding you back.

17. Donate some money to a charity of your choice today.  December is a really tough month for this industry.  You can do it online.

18. Perform a random act of kindness today.  You do not need to know the receiver.  Just do something nice for someone.  It doesn’t have to cost money.

19, Actively stay off, or minimise your use of, social media and electronic devices today. Don’t touch devices for two hours before you go to bed, and do not sleep with them in your room.

20. Start to think about your Ikigai (see Lesson 3) by asking yourself today, and writing it down, these four things – What do I love?  What am I good at?  What can I be paid for?  What does the world need?

21. Do not watch, listen to or read any news today.  It has been proven that people consuming just three minutes of news in the morning are 27% more likely to report a bad day at work, 6 to 8 hours later in the evening. 

22. Take the time to reflect on your past week, and set some goals around how you want to see this week unfold.  Write these thoughts down.

23. Go to one of those shops with gift trees for children who will get nothing on Christmas day.  Buy a gift to leave under the tree.

24. Work on your personal discipline by doing something different today.  If you don’t normally make your bed – make it.  If you eat the same every day – choose something healthy or vegan or drink tea instead of coffee.  Discipline is like a muscle that will strengthen by putting it under stress.

25. Celebrate today by you having had the discipline to follow through on this list for the past 24 days.  You have done well. 

I hope that you have found some things that you will continue to do into the New Year. 

It is my wish that you have a wonderful day, no matter what you are doing, and that you are kind to yourself.  You deserve it.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash