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What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating Tuna

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Resolve to Be Actively Happy

Enjoying quote of the day at Rancho la Puerta

Happy Is as Happy Thinks, Drinks, and Does

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Some years I do; some I don’t. Which got me to pondering why we consider changes and fresh starts each new year. “To become a better person” seems the obvious answer. But to what end?

What lies behind the desire to “improve,” “remake,” or “change” ourselves? Ultimately isn’t it a pursuit of happiness? “If only this or that changed, then I would be happy,” is the implication. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At least for 2014.

2014 issue of Outside Magazine

Get Out?! Be Happy!

Meantime, both neuroscience and Outside magazine had the good timing to release a list of strategies that enhance happiness. Wouldn’t you know it, but the keys to being happy involve exercise, healthy eating habits, and playing (mostly outdoors).

If you are looking to add more happiness to 2014 then try adopting some of the the following habits. I listed the happy habits that I either liked the best, saw as easiest to implement, or validated my current values. To see the complete, original article read the January 2014 issue of Outside magazine.

Wake Early

Alarms set on iPhone

1) Cranky hour 2) Sleepy hour 3) Just right for “early.”

I was a little surprised that early risers are happier people until I thought of the days that my get up and go got up but good! I always feel better when I get a jump on the day. Sure, we need to get in our 7-8 hours of snoozing per night. But we also need our Vitamin D. So the more time awake during sunlight hours, the better our immune system. It’s hard to be happy when ill; it’s easier to greet the day with a high five when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep followed by an early rise. This habit is one I am working towards. Pretty sure this is really a sneaky way for me to have to set another resolution — get to bed earlier than midnight so I can wake refreshed at 6:30 or 7:00am, not the 7:30 that feels so luxurious.

Drink Water

If you read my post, A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration, then you already know being dehydrated makes us — ok, ME — irritable. One supposition is that our neurons detect dehydration and warn the parts of the brain that affect our mood. Not enough water? The neurons hit the “bad mood” button. You’ll know if you’ve drunk enough water to improve your mood if your pee is clear or pale yellow. Wheeeeee Peeeeeee!

Exercise With a Group

Bouldering at Lizard's Mouth

I’ll be happy when I get down safely and into my step class!

Imagine how happy I felt reading this as a group fitness instructor for the past 33 years. Want to work harder while feeling happier? Being part of a team or group increases your intensity and endorphin levels more than when you train alone. Could this be the year you try group exercise classes or continue through the year? I have space in my classes for you! Perhaps a master’s level team sport is in your near future.

Exercise Consistently

Cardio workouts are brain boosters; exercise in general reduces stress; even a few months of activity can reverse age-related memory impairment. Now that you are so smart, remember that regular, ongoing exercise rewires your brain for the better. Low stress, younger brain, and a good memory? That spells “H-A-P-P-Y better than a crossword puzzle clue if you ask me.

Eat Chocolate

Eat chocolate

Science from CocoaVia tells me cocoa flavanols help me live well!

Who cares the reasons?!*  The fact that cocoa flavanols are good for us (in moderate doses) is just plain old good news. Enough said.

* For those of you who want the reasons, hold on a minute while I lick the dark chocolate from my typing fingers. Basically, chocolate (specifically the flavanols) releases endorphins and calms us. Yes, it’s all in the mind. And mouth.

 Eat Mood Enhancing Foods

Dark green veggies, turkey, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts, black beans, — these and other foods high in tryptophan or glutamine positively affect your neurotransmitters. Get naturally high without medication! How many of you noticed that eating happy foods causes the opposite of being dehydrated?

Listen to Music

Photo bombing or singing at Glen Ivy Spa
Singing in My Pain, Just Singing in My Pain. Alexandra is Happy
Doing a Selfie Again

Who wants to hear me sing? Debatable whether this will enhance your mood. Hmmm. Or you can hear Alexandra tra la la in many of our past radio episodes. Also debatable about the effect. We can say that if you listen to music you like, you will pump out dopamine (happy hormones) faster than Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger pumped it up back in the day. Tunes you enjoy give you an emotional rush. I now await a music company sponsor for this tip.

Choose the Right Biological Parents

Yes, it’s true and I’d be amiss not to confirm that genetics plays a role in your disposition. If born rich, I’d be happy! Oh, wait. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. Inherited tendencies determine about one third of our happiness level. So quit griping if your mom and dad were negative Norman and Nellie. You have two thirds of the story to write yourself. Especially if you follow the tips above!

I know I’ll sure be happier if you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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15 Responses to What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating Tuna

  1. Linz @ Itz Linz January 6, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    love all of these ideas to living a happy and HEALTHY life!

  2. Lisa Froman January 6, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    Great post. I am resolving to listen to more music this year. I don’t know why I haven’t made it a priority before….but I’ve been getting some guidance it would be good for me. Thanks for the reminder, too! Happy New Year.
    Lisa Froman recently posted..A Prayer For StrangersMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit January 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

      Isn’t it great to know that something as simple as listening to music can boost our mood? I noticed this when I am laying our new floor. The installation goes faster and with less grumpiness when I crank the showtunes!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Rethink Your Day: Move Just a Bit MoreMy Profile

  3. Brenda Clevenger January 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I can’t be reminded enough to go to GROUP yoga class and to come home and so savasana with a huge piece of chocolate. Namaste.

  4. Jody - Fit at 56 January 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    LOVE!!!! I am doing most of them – not the group exercise BUT I am at the gym – well early but people are still there & honestly I rather have the whole place to myself! :)

    Dang, I would have preferred some rich relatives to help me out but that was not in the cards.. ;)
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & Giveaway winner – ME! :) My Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit January 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

      Those rich relatives may still be waiting in silence to drop some happy inheritance on you. In the meantime, isn’t it nice that you got inherited great genes? One day we’ll lure you into a class. Yes, I see it in the future……..
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Can Walking Really Get You to Your (Fit) Destination?My Profile

  5. Helene Cohen Bludman January 6, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Great suggestions, and I will follow your advice. I know I need to drink more water and I need to get in an exercise routine. As soon as my broken foot is healed, I’m going to get back to the gym!

    • AlexandraFunFit January 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Yikes, Helen, what happened to your foot? I was laid up in 2012 with a fused big toe and did NOT enjoy the feeling of being trapped in lethargy. I ended up on the hated rowing machine, just so I could move.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Rethink Your Day: Move Just a Bit MoreMy Profile

  6. Cathy Chester January 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Yikes! I wish I lived near you guys. I need a little dose of YOU. I drink plenty of water (kidney stones – ouch!) but I get no exercise.

    I’m down in the doldrums lately with too much family illness. I need a lift! Walking in 3 degree weather won’t do it for me. With a frozen shoulder and having MS, I’m very limited.

    I’m a happy person and thess comments sounds so….well, er, depressing!

    Here’s to a happy 2014. Great post!
    Cathy Chester recently posted..Now That The Holidays Are Over, Was I Crazy To Start A Diet Before They Began? The Battle Of Cookies, Carbs And CarrotsMy Profile

  7. Fun and Fit January 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    If you lived near us we’d be happier. And we’d show you all the MS friendly hikes/ walks! Of course it’s easy to find good trails when our temperature has double digits. Do you have interior stairs you could climb up and down? Can you walk in place while watching tv or cooking? Doldrums fall prey to cardio power!

  8. GiGi Eats Celebrities January 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Exercise and fatty fish – MAKE ME SOOOOOOOOOOOOO VERY HAPPY ALL THE TIME :D
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..Yum… Oh Wait No, That’s Yucky!My Profile

  9. Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl January 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    The last step TOTALLY explains why I lack in happiness. LOL. j/k. Well sort of. My genetics definitely play in unhappiness. but I am fighting it constantly. But that means I need to wake early…. that’s a tough one. ;)

    Great steps.
    Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl recently posted..How to Keep Your New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  10. Karl @ Afterburn Effect Training January 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    I laughed when I read this title. I’ve eaten soooo much tuna already this year… and salmon… and mackerel. Damn, I don’t think I’ve gone a day without fish.
    Karl @ Afterburn Effect Training recently posted..Setting The Stage For A Successful WorkoutMy Profile

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