1. Started a gratitude blog. In Feb 2010, I asked a dozen of my friends to participate in an experiment with me to see if we could increase our happiness by blogging for 30 days about gratitude. We measured our happiness on day 1 & 31. All but one person’s happiness score increased.
Want to kick off your New Year on a positive note? Check out my friend Gretchen Rubin’s blog, The Happiness Project. Gretchen did this experiment so well, it landed her on the New York Times Best Seller’s List.
2. Went on pointe. Nope, there’s no spelling error. I was a dance major in college and I quit when I started graduate school. Two years ago, in an effort to breathe some life into my then 39 year-old-body, my wife bought me a series of dance classes at the Joffrey Ballet School. I went only to spare her feelings and fell in love with dance all over again. Last January, one of my teachers, Stephanie Godino, encouraged me to try pointe - an advanced type of ballet in which the dancer dances on the tips of her toes and accomplishes this by wearing special shoes called pointe shoes. Been en pointe ever since, and fyi, pointe shoes don’t hurt any more than stilettos do.
3. Hired my coach. His name is Robert Biswas-Diener and he was guest lecturing in one of my Positive Psychology classes last year. His energy and attitude were so amazing that I knew I had to work with him. He’s a rock star in the coaching world, he’s led me in the direction of my professional dreams and I’ve been a client ever since.
4. Became active in my T.V. career. People from fancy schools tend to think that working on television is beneath them. So over the years, when producers and networks approached me to work on various projects, I took a very passive role. In the second half of this year I decided to help push it along and in Sept, I took the initiative to fly out to L.A. and had several meetings. I’ve been back monthly ever since, filming for E! Entertainment, and my first project airs on that network on January 26, 2011.
5. Bought Holosync. I had insomnia for 2+ years and thought it was just a part of growing older. In February, I decided to try Holosync’s demo CD, which claimed (among other things) to cure insomnia. Products rarely meet my expectations – this one knocked me out. Literally. Aside from completely curing my insomnia (I’ve had fewer than 3 nights of insomnia since Feb), it resulted in a host of other positive benefits, impressing me so much that I now require each of my clients to use it. Holosync has transformed my life and my practice.
6. Started AskDrDarcy.com. I thought the daily task of writing was going to be a burden. Instead, it’s been a pleasure and the numerous responses from members of the LGBT community about how badly it was needed has been all the fuel I’ve needed to enjoy the process.
7. Started Jazz. I’ve loved my 2+ years at The Joffrey, but my dance training had been limited to ballet. In August of this year I stumbled upon a teacher at Broadway Dance Center named Debbie Wilson and I’ve been taking her class ever since. The class is a spiritual experience for me.
8. Became more flexible in my expectations. I can become so goal oriented that I lose sight of why I picked a goal in the first place. Example: Make lots of money, which may sound like the goal, however, the real goal was Increase happiness, and Make lots of money was my interpretation of the path that would lead to Increased happiness.
Mid year, I questioned my goals and realized that several of my tasks/to-dos were no longer achieving my goals. So I moved some things around (in my head) and wham, back on target.
9. Focused more on myself ~ less on my wife. I’m not implying that I began neglecting her. Just the opposite.
I’m a problem solver, both by nature and by profession, so when I begin looking deeply at something, my natural inclination (like an editor) is to look for weaknesses. Until I learned how to control this self-defeating habit (more on that below), I began shifting my focus from my wife to myself, allowing her to be her, whomever that was, is, and will be.
We all wish our partners were a little more of this and a little less of that, but verbal tweaking of this nature is the fuel of bickering which erodes the fibers of relationships. Happier wife and happier life since I stopped looking at her and started looking in the mirror.
10. Focused more on Strengths ~ less on weaknesses. I dislike weaknesses, and in my futile attempt to rid myself of my pesky human ways, I spent much of my adult life identifying what’s wrong, with the naïve hope of eradicating the flaw immediately upon discovery. What that did was underscore everything wrong in life while minimizing everything right in life.
In 2010, I decided to align with one of Positive Psychology’s principals: Spend more time on strengths ~ less time on weaknesses.
The resulting effect on my wellbeing has been enormous. I’m no Pollyanna. Things still go wrong and I’m aware of them, but I spend less time ruminating on those things and more time savoring things that excite me. Like this blog. Like my marriage. Like my dancing. Not necessarily in that order.
What did you do right this year? I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org