January. The month when you're practically ordered to feel depressed.
Well not on Esquire. Instead, we thought we'd ask a happiness expert for some easy ways to feel great that don't involve buying a fifty grand watch, going to the Maldives or dating a supermodel.
Step forward Andy Cope - a happiness expert and co-author of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence: How to Flourish in a Crazy World - with a list anyone can follow with a little positive energy. Like Jack.
1 | Mondays are bad and Fridays good. Really? The average life-span is 4000 weeks and a seventh of your life is spent on Mondays. Flip your thinking. Friday is, in fact, another week closer to death, while Monday is an opportunity to make a dent in the universe.
2 | Upgrade your underwear drawer so every item is worth wearing on a 'special occasion'. Then every day will start off feeling like one.
3 | Be a hugger. The average hug lasts 2.1 seconds but for the endorphins to transfer it needs to last seven seconds or longer (but warned, counting out loud spoils the effect).
4 | Practice the 10/5 principle - smile at everyone who comes within 10 feet of you and make eye contact and say 'hi' to everyone within 5 feet (except on the tube).
5 | Say nice things about people behind their back. This is a double-whammy because when it gets back to them , people think you're a lovely person (which, of course, you are).
6 | Write a list of 10 things you really appreciate but take for granted. 'Health' and 'relationships' will almost certainly be on there.
7 | Every morning, appreciate that you don't have toothache and that your kidneys are working. Being able to get out of bed is the best thing ever.
8 | Write a list of the top 10 happiest moments of your life and you'll realise that most of the things on the list are 'experiences' rather than 'products'. Set your stall out to have more experiences.
9 | Instead of asking your partner/kids 'how was your day?' change the words and ask (with enthusiasm), 'what was the highlight of your day?' Then listen with genuine enthusiasm.
10 | Walk tall and put a smile on your face (not an inane grin or you'll scare people). Your brain will immediately think you are happy and you'll feel a whole lot better.
11 | Change your aim. Stop setting your sights on 'getting through the week' or 'surviving until my next holiday'. Raise your game. Set your aim to 'enjoy the week' or 'to inspire people'.
12 | Write down your top 5 personal strengths. Be aware of them and start seeing opportunities to play to them more often.
13 | Watch out for the 90/10 principle. This states that 10% of your happiness depends on things that happen to you while a whopping 90% depends on how you react to these events. Make a conscious choice to be positive.
14 | When setbacks occur, ask yourself, where is this issue on a scale of 1 – 10 (where 10 is death). If it is death, you are allowed to feel down. Anything else, get over it.
15 | Most people have an internal voice that is very critical. Challenge it. When your inner voice is telling you you're an idiot, firmly disagree. Find a positive inner voice (note, this conflict is best done in silence in your head. And if you have lots of inner voices, you need to see your GP)
16 | Spend less time on electronic friends and more time with real flesh and blood ones.
17 | Practice the 4-minute rule; that is, be your best self for the first 4 minutes of arriving at work, being in a meeting, getting home, etc. Your brilliance is infectious.
18 | Lose the word 'try'. Instead of setting a resolution of 'I'm going to try and lose some weight' or 'I'm going to try and get a bit fitter', go with 'I'm going to lose some weight' or 'I'm going to get fitter'. Yoda was spot on when he said, 'Do or do not, there is no 'try'.'
19 | Appreciate that your happiness is bigger than you. It has a ripple effect and infects people 3 degrees removed from you.
20 | Read a bedtime story to your kids like it was the most exciting book in the world (note, it is doubly important for sons to see their dads reading books).
21 | Reframe situations. For example, a leaking gutter means you have a house; paying tax means you have some income; your teenage son spending hours on his X-Box means he's not wandering the streets, etc.
22 | Be genuinely interested in other people. Ask loads of questions about them. In a bizarre twist of quantum psychology, people will find you insanely interesting.
23 | Make sure that you use more positive than negative language. The ratio needs to be about 5 positives for every negative, so catch people doing things well and tell them.
For more information on Andy's work, check out artofbrilliance.co.uk.