5 goals for a happier 2017

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions—but a new year does always feel like a fresh start in some ways and an opportunity to check in with my big-picture goals: What do I want to achieve this year? Is there anything in my life I want to do differently? Am I as happy as I can be?

For me, happiness is intrinsically connected to living with purpose and meaning. I work with animals every single day because that adds value to my life. My dog, horses and even the shelter and sanctuary animals I encounter remind me the importance of kindness, of mindfulness, of compassion. And of the goodness in this world (which sometimes feels very hard to find). So with the animals as my guide, here are my five goals for a happier 2017:

1. Give at least one compliment each day. Compliments are a beautiful way to share positive energy. They also force us to pull away from our busy, selfish mind and reflect on noticing good things and good people in the world around us. You can either compliment a person directly or show genuine appreciation for something. For example, “Our community is better because you’re in it,” or “You’re always so thoughtful.” Think of compliments as little gifts that don’t cost a thing—though the good vibes benefit both the giver and the receiver.

2. Vow to complain less. Complaining seems to feel good at the time, doesn’t it? But it never makes any situation better—in fact, complaining makes everything worse, including how you are perceived by others and your mental and physical health. Breaking the habit isn’t easy, though, so look to your animals for inspiration: They never complain, no matter the circumstance. This 2017, I encourage all of us (me included!) to find new ways of speaking positively and finding solutions in place of pointless complaints.

3. Be kind. For many of us, random acts of kindness are an afterthought, not a daily or weekly goal. But this year, I’d like to do more small random acts of kindness—for both animals and humans. What if we reframed each day to look for opportunities we might have missed before? For instance, let someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store; help a lost dog on the side of the road; send paper thank-you notes. For more ideas, get inspired by these lists: 10 easy acts of kindness for animals, and 101 random acts of kindness. Check out the nonprofit Kindness.org, which makes it easy to commit to kindness.

4. Share Reiki with your animal every day. Science tells us that daily meditation improves our health in significant ways—by lowering our blood pressure, reducing stress and boosting our immune system. Take it up a notch by adding your beloved animal to the mix. Animals are meditation masters who teach us how to focus, open our hearts and share compassion. All it takes is 20 of the 1,440 minutes each day gives us.

5. Write in your gratitude journal at least three times a week. The researchers over at Harvard say that gratitude literally makes you happier—in their study, those who mindfully reflected on gratitude exercised more, were more optimistic and spent less time at the doctor. Don’t worry that you need to write in your journal every day, but do check in a few times each week. If you find yourself resisting due to difficult life circumstances, these tips from Tiny Buddha might help.

I’m hoping these small goals will help me embrace 2017 to the fullest. Tell me, what are your happiness goals for the New Year?

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Kathleen Prasad is an entrepreneur, author, educator, spiritual seeker and animal advocate living in beautiful Marin County, California, with her husband, daughter, dog and two horses. She loves being with animals, listening to hip-hop, eating out at vegan restaurants, riding dressage, hiking in the redwoods and traveling the world to meet animal people.

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  • Hello everyone,

    My happiness goals for 2017 include stepping forward and creating my Reiki business start up plan for animals and people! I continue to learn each step of the way. I am grateful for the new year, for new beginnings and endless amounts of creative inspiration to grab hold of!

    Animals are so dear, so real and so healing…I just can’t get enough of being with them each day.
    Also, so many people bring me closer to realizing, “I can do this” and continually offer me a helping hand and nurture me along the way. All of these happenings make me very happy!

    Thank you Kathleen for your incredible ability to lead and inspire over and over again!

    Love, Karren O’Sullivan

    • Thanks dear Karren,

      I’m excited to watch your business blossom in 2017, for the good of the animals and the people who love them 🙂 You are an amazing human being, animal advocate, and Reiki teacher: you can do it!!! xo

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