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Welcome Back! Tips to Help Reset, Re-energize, and Refocus

Robbie Morrell distills multiple sources to reveal suggested techniques to find happiness.

So Much Advice, So Little Time

Inevitably at the beginning of a new year, there are articles containing suggestions about how to reset, re-energize, and refocus. There are hundreds about how to attain happiness or reduce stress. Especially after the unprecedented circumstances brought about due to the pandemic—they increased our stress levels over the past few years, as well as decreased our social engagement, taking into account lockdowns, remote work, and mask-wearing.

There are numerous publications that offer strategies and suggestions to reduce stress and increase happiness, but I thought I would share a book recommended by President Peña written by a colleague at her former institution, Sonya Lyubomirsky, called The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.

As a research psychologist at the University of California, Lyubomirsky offers happiness strategies to introduce the concept of intentional activities and mindful actions to achieve a happier life.

Brief Descriptions of the 12 Happiness Strategies

Strategy 1: Expressing Gratitude

Counting your blessings for what you have (either to a close other or privately, through contemplation or a journal) or conveying your gratitude and appreciation to one or more individuals whom you have never properly thanked.

Strategy 2: Cultivating Optimism

Keeping a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself or practicing looking at the bright side of every situation.

Strategy 3: Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison

Using strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems and compare yourself with others.

Strategy 4: Practicing Acts of Kindness

Doing good things for others, whether friends or strangers, either directly or anonymously, either spontaneously or planned.

Strategy 5: Nurturing Relationships

Picking a relationship in need of strengthening and investing time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.

Strategy 6: Developing Strategies for Coping

Practicing ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.

Strategy 7: Learning to Forgive

Keeping a journal or writing a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment toward one or more individuals who have hurt or wronged you.

Strategy 8: Doing More Activities that Truly Engage You

Increase the number experiences at home and work in which you “lose” yourself, which are challenging and absorbing (i.e., flow experiences).

Strategy 9: Savoring Life’s Joys 

Paying close attention, taking delight, and replaying life’s momentary pleasures, and wonders, through thinking, writing, drawing, or sharing with another.

Strategy 10: Committing to Your Goals

Picking one, two or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devoting time and effort to pursuing them.

Strategy 11: Practicing Religion and Spirituality

Becoming more involved in your church, temple, or mosque or reading and pondering spiritually themed books.

Strategy 12: Taking Care of Your Body

Engaging in physical activity, meditating, and smiling and laughing.

Take the Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic survey in the book The How of Happiness 

Breaking It Down

Why Aren’t We Happier During the Holidays? A Psychology Today article details why it can be tough.

Five Useful Techniques

After reading many of the publications we are inundated with, I made a note of the techniques that they all have in common.

  1. Mindfulness: We can’t make changes or improve outcomes if we don’t have awareness. Intentionally paying attention to present moment experience with non-judgment and acceptance is a simple concept, but not easy to practice.

  2. Connection: As community beings, we all need human connection. Building community and developing a support network supports our health and well-being.

  3. Self-Care Techniques: This includes methods that we use to renew our energy and recharge when we become depleted by stressors. Even though these techniques can be different for each individual, the common foundational strategies are sleep, exercise, and eating.

  4. Perspective: Which includes being intentional about our attitude towards our life. Shifting from our innate negativity bias to optimism using techniques such as Gratitude, Compassion for self and others, intentional kindness.

  5. Authenticity and Having Meaning and Purpose: Living in alignment with values. Through meaning, we have direction and purpose to push through hardship and adversity and develop resilience.

In Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, he mentions Nietzsche’s quote, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Let’s all take a deep breath to face 2023!

Roberta Morell, LMHC, CASAC, RYT-500
(she, her, hers)