How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Are you sticking to them? Don’t worry if you’re not. A recent study revealed that 49% of people frequently abandon their resolutions and only 8% are successful in meeting their resolutions. But instead of being hard on yourself for not following through with your resolution for the entire year, you could always set new goals that you could begin working toward today.
Resolutions tend to be rather vague, “I will lose weight this year.” These also don’t follow a plan and are difficult to achieve. More specific resolutions, which are broken into smaller goals are more successful. So, scratch the ambiguous aims you’re trying to reach and vow to instead incorporate more focused habits into your daily routine. Here are some tips adopted from healthier and happier regions around the world that may serve as your inspiration to lead a simpler, but more fulfilling life.
When it comes to happiness, the Scandinavian countries dominate the polls. In 2013, the top 5 happiest countries were Denmark (1), Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Sweden (5), in that order. Also in the top 10 were Finland and Iceland. One of the major contributors to this statistic are these nations’ cycling habits. In the Netherlands, 99.1% of people have a bike. Twenty seven percent of all trips and 25% of trips to work are made by bike. Whether you treat biking as your daily exercise or as a casual activity, being active has been linked to major health benefits
. So, follow the Dutch, buy or rent a bike and start exploring the great outdoors via pedaling power!
- Eat a Mediterranean-type diet
Greeks and Italians are known for loving olives, feta cheese, fresh fatty fish, lots of fruits and vegetables and flavorful herbs and spices—and they may be on to something. A Mediterranean-style diet that has been linked to better heart health, in addition to other wellness benefits. Studies have shown that a diet that consists mainly of plants, legumes, nuts and seafood, can help prevent and help treat certain diseases and body ailments. During your next shopping trip, stock up on some of these wholesome foods, incorporate them into daily meals, and reap the benefits of the Mediterranean-type diet.
- Devote time to meditation and yoga (mindfulness)
Oooohm, oooohm, oooohm. You may think it’s silly to sit cross-legged and hum mindful sounds as you’re trying very hard to concentrate and clear your mind. But give it some effort. Meditating and yoga, popular relaxation techniques in Eastern countries, have proven health boosts. From reducing stress to improving brain function, relaxing your mind could lead to a happier life. And these techniques have become easier these days with the help of virtual, guided meditations and classes. So, take a few minutes each day to detox not only your body, but also your mind!
Do like the Germans and work smarter, not harder, or in this case, longer. Germans have a popular saying
, “Kurzarbeit”—which represents a short(er) work week. This idea has maintained high employment in the country by keeping skilled employees happy and creating more balance between work and life. This flexibility has also contributed to Germany’s unrivalled economy and high productivity. Apply this to your work life by planning your work days so they’re more productive, but also shorter. Do the hardest tasks in the morning when you’re most alert and less likely to be distracted, and remember to take short mental breaks to keep your mind sharp and focused.
South Americans are known for their dance festivals and love for life itself. They shake their hips, enjoy each other’s company and thrive in the pleasures of life. To mimic this relaxation euphoria, Alberto "Beto" Perez, a Colombian aerobic instructor, created the dance phenomenon, Zumba, in 2006. Since then, dance classes have been popping all over the place, and people are flocking to them. And boy, are they having fun! For people who find exercising boring, dancing provides a more pleasant experience without skimping on the health benefits
. Dancing not only releases tension, but it also improves your aerobic fitness, your coordination and flexibility, and may put you more in touch with your body. The added bonus? Better self esteem! So, break out your dance shoes and get ready to shake what your momma gave you!