Today is the day to start being happier. The beginning of a new year when everyone is supposed start living up to those promises they made to themselves last year.

We're only hours in, but how are you doing? Have you started to live up to the new you, or already making excuses for starting tomorrow?

I'm doing a little bit of both depending on which promise I'm talking about, but that's ok. I'm human, I assume you're human, so let's agree to give ourselves a break. It's ok to start whenever you get started.

To keep things simpler for me, I'm only going to remember one promise (call it a goal or resolution if you prefer): Be happy. That shouldn't be too hard should it?

One thing I've found helps me stay more focused on what I want to do is to make lists. No matter how well-intentioned I am, if I don't write it down (physically or electronically) I am bound to forget because I get busy doing other things. So without further to-do, here is my list of 5 things to do so I can fell happier, more often, as the year goes by. The order isn't important, doing them is important.

1. Do the happy dance. You know what that is right? We all have one, whether we think we can dance or not. Get up and do it. A lot. It will make you smile, reduce stress, and get the blood pumping and bring good things. Well, it will do a lot of those anyway. Don't wait for something to make you happy to do the dance - do the dance and feel happy!

2. Laugh.  Laughing elevates the mood and releases stress. It also tends to lead to more laughter. Laughing people are generally happy wouldn't you say? (I'm talking genuine laughter, not maniacal evil villain kind of laughter). This past year I've done my best to laugh more around my kids, and to look for the humor in a situation before jumping to angry conclusions. In 2017, I'll look for even more opportunity to laugh wherever I am. Are you willing to laugh whenever you can?

3. Relax more. I tend to get waaaay stressed out at times. Usually in conjunction with sleep deprivation. Most of the stress is imaginary. That is I'm worried about things that don't really matter, or piling things on my to-do list that don't really need to be done. At least not at the time. Or I'll set horribly unrealistic expectations for myself, which then results in being stressed about not completing them. No more I say! I'll be building in dedicated times to relax - no email, no texts, no "work" to do. Just relaxing and enjoying myself. I know I function so much better when I'm coming from a relaxed state of mind. I'd be willing to bet you do to, so give it a try.

4. Exercise. I'm not talking about a rigorous program here. For me this means getting up off my you-know-what and moving around. Right now, maybe it means going outside to make a snowman with my kids - rolling those big snowballs takes effort! Or "Getting my kms" as my son calls it when we go out to play Pokemon Go (you have to walk a set number of kilometers to hatch Pokemon eggs). It's amazing how far you can walk when you have a purpose - hatching those Gen 2 eggs is a great motivator. Or even simply stretching after sitting here writing for a few hours. Every little bit counts, and my body thanks me afterward. Does yours?

5. Choose kindness. I don't remember who said it first, but I remember hearing it from Wayne Dyer, "When given the choice to be right or to be kind, choose kind." In my family, we like to be right. One of my father's all time favorite sayings is, "I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken." I can't tell you how often battles are fought over who remembers something "right". So, to hell with all that. Being right feels good, but not when it makes someone you love feel bad, or stupid, or unloved. I'll choose to be kind as often as I can, or rather every time I become conscious that I'm in a battle to prove I'm right.

And I think that is the key really, to any efforts to be happy, more successful, or even to relax: becoming conscious of how you feel and recognizing when it isn't what you want to feel. That's what these five things will help me do as the year progresses. Do you have any plans on how you'll be happier this year? I'd love to see them in the comments.

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