Tuesday, January 7, 2014


If your life is perfect, you can stop reading NOW.  But, if you're like most of the rest of the universe, you acknowledge that it could be better, improved in any number of small ways. Here is a partial and admittedly incomplete list of suggestions to create a new you in the New Year.

These are not resolutions.  Resolutions are meant to be broken, by January 11th at the latest.  These are merely thoughts on slight modifications to make you happier. One idea is to join a Happiness Club.  Maybe you never knew they even existed:  clubs dedicated to the idea of making you happier!  Lionel Ketchian of Fairfield gets all the credit, when more than a dozen years ago, he decided he needed a little help in the joy department.  Now there are Happiness Clubs all over the world, from Scotland to France to Israel to Pakistan, and there is sure to be one in your neck of the woods, somewhere near your funny bone.

Happiness Clubs meet once a month and they are free.  Guest speakers provide clues and tools to make your life more meaningful in any number of ways.  Find a club in your neighborhood, like Madison, Fairfield, Milford, Woodbridge, Westport, New Haven. Go to www.happinessclubs.com.

How about a little Laughter Yoga?  An Indian doctor, Dr. Madan Kataria, decided one day that laughter would be beneficial, good medicine if you will.  He gathered five people in a park in India in the early 1990's and now there are Laughter Yoga groups in 72 countries, 8000 and growing. Locally Connie Pino runs one at the High Plains Senior Community Center on Orange Center Road in Orange.  The cost is a can of non-perishable food for a local food pantry, if you wish.  Wednesdays at 9 a.m. discover all the health benefits a little laughter yoga can bring to your life.

Exercise is at the top of many lists for improved well-being.  Grab a Richard Simmons dance video or join a gym for a Zumba or spinning class or try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Remember to drink plenty of water and eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The New Year is also a time to take a risk and try something different.  Did you always want to tap dance or play the guitar or try watercolor painting?  Now is the moment.  Could photography be in your future or tackling a new game like chess or mah jongg (a Chinese tile game) or perhaps you're ready to get addicted to Candy Crush Saga on your computer or Smart Phone?  Adult education classes abound and if you are over 65 local colleges have a deal for you to audit their lectures.

Do you belong to a book club?  Reading is a wonderful pastime, educational, illuminating and fifty shades of fun.  Want to try your hand at poetry or put your thoughts in a journal every day?  Horror of horrors, you might even write a letter.  E-mails and tweets can be so impersonal.  Reach out to a friend or family member you haven't seen recently or use the telephone.  Visit an elderly neighbor or a shut-in.  Lots of people would welcome a little help. Hugs are a no cost way to say you care.

Buy a ticket to the theater, a concert, a sporting event, whatever pleases your fancy. Looking forward to the event is half the fun.

Like to sing in more than just the shower?  Choirs and choruses are ready to employ your alto or soprano voice.  Need a friendly furry friend in your life?  Animal shelters have lots of pets to rescue.  Attack a closet and pack up all the things you no longer need to donate to a worthy cause, like Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Vietnam Veterans or Goodwill.

Dust off your recipe books and try a new soup or bread or main course or better yet take a cooking class.  One new creation a week can be lots of fun and lots of good eating.  Plan a trip, like a cruise, or just an over night at a Bed and Breakfast.  A change of scenery is beneficial and fun to plan and look forward to doing.  Trace your ancestry and discover your family tree on sites like www.ancestry.com.

Give of yourself and you're sure to receive back more in good feelings.  Find a volunteer activity.  Charities are always welcoming.  Places of worship also have their doors open for your spiritual needs.

Forgive yourself and others.  Let resentments go and send them off into the universe.  Wake up every morning and say "I am happy."  Send yourself good messages and you will begin to believe them.  Make a list and count your blessings.  Whatever you do, remember to be grateful.  If you need a little help in that department, pick up a copy of Ann Kusovitsky's new book "What Makes You Grateful?"

Don't postpone joy.  Celebrate life.  Perform a random act of kindness, often. Make 2014 special.

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