Every day things happen that work contrary to your joy and contentment. As you move forward into 2014, you must be deliberate in your pursuit of happiness. With permission from the author, I would like to share with you the first six months of the happiness calendar written by Henry S. Miller, author of "The Serious Pursuit of Happiness."
January – a month of hope and plans
The beginning of the year is traditionally about New Year's resolutions. This year, write down one positive goal you have for the coming year on your calendar each morning of each day of January. Also write your plan to make it a reality. Then, resolve that you will intentionally invest your time and energy to work on your resolutions during the year and to live a happier life by implementing these happiness strategies – one each month.
February – a month of gratitude
Gratitude is the antidote to greed, envy, and jealously. We feel much happier when we are being grateful for what we have, rather than envious of what we don't. Remember, no one has everything. This month, each night before going to bed, take a daily gratitude inventory. Write down three things you are grateful for about your life – your relationships, your work, your character, your family, your country, the world around you and your life.
March – a month of kindness
Plato said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." And, if you look around, it's still true today. This month, find one opportunity each and every day to perform some kind act for someone else – even the simplest act of holding a door open for another will do. And, each day, after your act of kindness, enjoy the feeling that, for at least one shining moment, you are the personification of all that is good about the human race.
April – a month of optimism
Each day this month, be more conscious of your negative thoughts – if you have any. And every time you do, immediately "dispute" it by intentionally replacing the negative thought with a positive one. Do this each time you think a negative thought for a month, and notice how your thinking might change.
May – a month of friendship
Close relationships are ones of the longest-lasting of happiness. But, sometimes, we take our friends for granted – or are "too busy" to see them. This month, at least one time per week, reach out to a friend and arrange to spend time with them. This can be as simple as a walk, a meal, coffee – whatever you choose. But find the time to visit with your friends face-to-face this month.
June – a month of love
Traditionally, June is a month of weddings; and love is all around us. Each day this month, call, write or email someone you love or care deeply about – one per day – and tell them how much they mean to you and how happy you are that they are a part of your life, even if you haven't been the best communicator up until now. Notice reactions – yours and theirs.
The happiness calendar is a great tool that will help you focus on the things that are in your circle of influence and control. Later in the year, I will share the second half of the calendar. Save this article and cut out the activity for each month. Attach them to your 2014 calendar and build action items around each month's theme. Remember, happiness is an intentional creation, and 2014 can be a great year if you stay focused on the things that bring you happiness.
Timothy Houston is an author, minister, and motivational speaker who is committed to guiding positive life changes in families and communities. For questions, comments or more information, go to www.tlhouston.com.