With the New Year quickly approaching, you may be thinking about how to make the upcoming year your happiest year yet. While losing weight and kicking a cigarette habit are great resolutions, why not vow to improve your happiness? Everyone wants to be happy, and having a smile on your face could actually make it easier to reach your other goals. While it’s true that genetics influence happiness, about 40 percent of how happy you are is within your control. Not sure how to start smiling? Here are four tips to help you have your happiest year yet.

Learn to forgive. Anger and resentment bring negativity and unhappiness into your life. Forgiving someone who has wronged you can make you feel stronger and improve your self-esteem. Write a letter of forgiveness to a person who has burned you and move on. Chances are the person who has wronged you had forgotten all about the situation that has led you to be bitter and twisted. If it’s not affecting them, don’t let it affect you either.

Count your blessings. Each day write down three things you are thankful for or accomplishments you are proud of in a gratitude journal. Not only is this a great way to boost happiness, but it can also improve physical health and raise energy levels, found a 2005 University of California at Riverside study. “Taking the time to do this each day brings me to my ‘happy place’”, says Leila Wolford, life coach and Fitago expert.

Give back. Volunteering your time makes you feel good about yourself, puts meaning into your life and can give you a sense of purpose. Visit a nursing home, offer to mow a sick neighbor’s lawn, or help your niece with her homework. Giving away money or gifts is also great ways to give back, and can actually make you happier than spending the cash on yourself, studies show. Offer to pick up the tab at the coffee shop with a friend or give your afternoon snack to someone in need. The payoff will be yours! (Check out these great volunteer opportunities in the SWFL area)

Try something new. Learning or trying something new is a great ways to stimulate your brain and boost your happiness. Scientists have found that people who do new things have more positive emotions than people who stick to familiar activities. So if you’ve wanted to try a salsa dancing class, or take a cruise to Italy instead of your yearly trip to Colorado, go for it! Or better yet, try to do one new thing each month.

Content Provided By: Fitango