40. REKINDLE THE FIRE
Marriage doesn’t always have to be about responsibility and sacrifice. This year, take a resolution to rekindle the romance with your partner or spouse. “All it takes is the intention and the action will follow,” says Delhi-based marriage counsellor Kamal Khurana. Shuddho, 42, and Nandini Banerjee, 36, are already ahead of the pack. Married for 15 years, they “have made it a point to spend alone-time with each other, at least during the weekends”, says Nandini, an actor. “We need not go on formal dates, but just a walk to the ATM can be converted into a date if it’s followed by an hour-long visit to the bar and some scintillating conversation. Conversation is key in such cases. We try and talk more about ‘us’ and not about everyday things that can be discussed at home,” says Nandini.
41. SAY OM
Votaries have always sworn by the powerful effects of meditation, something that science has managed to confirm, too. An MRI of a monk’s brain while meditating, conducted by the University of Wisconsin in 2008, discovered that the part of the brain associated with happiness and joy registered an unusually high amount of activity. Not willing to give up life in the fast lane for the abbey? Even meditating for 10 minutes a day has been found to have a positive effect on the body and mind.
42. SAY NO TO YELLOW
While many people automatically think yellow is the most cheerful colour, be careful before you go around painting your home in bright shades of lemon. Yellow is actually an irritating colour when used in large amounts. This is why many fast food restaurants use it in their colour schemes to keep the guests moving quickly. Colour psychologist J.L. Morton, founder of www.colormatters.com, says that yellow rooms cause people to lose temper and make babies cry. Rather, green should be the colour of choice to reduce stress and calm nerves (hence, the “green room” where guests await before appearing on talk shows). Asian Paints’ colour forecast Colour Next ’08 recommended Emerald Gold (M202) and Organic Green (7766) as the hottest greens for 2008.
45: Volunteers across India helps Goonj move 30,000kg of clothes to villagers in need. Courtesy Goonj
43. ADMIT IT: THE SUIT MAKES THE MAN
“Not long after I published my first book, I quickly found I was terrible at being interviewed. But then I’d read the piece and it would say, ‘What an interesting man; he wears white suits’.”
Tom Wolfe, author of ‘A Man in Full’ and ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’
44. TAKE A LEAF OUT OF THE KAMA SUTRA
“Sexual activity enters strongly positively in an equation in which reported happiness is the dependent variable. The more sex, the happier the person... How many sexual partners in the last year will maximize a person’s happiness? The simple answer according to the data is one sexual partner.”
Dartmouth College economist David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald of University of Warwick’s 2004 study on sexual activity and the happiness of 16,000 people.
45. GET THE SKELETONS (AND COBWEBS) OUT OF YOUR CLOSET
Unburden your soul (and your hangers) by spring cleaning. Bring out every piece of clothing you haven’t worn in the past year and donate it to Goonj—a grassroots organization that distributes about 30,000kg of clothing every month. The added bonus of spring cleaning your cupboard is that the clothes you toss out to simplify your life can be donated to people in need. Just because the Bihar floods has vanished from the news doesn’t mean thousands still don’t need help. Volunteers at Goonj receive old clothes for donation in 21 states of the country. Check www.goonj.org for the collection site nearest to you.
46. BITE THE BULLET—GET HITCHED
A 2006 Gallup poll of 1,000 adults said that married adults at any income level were more likely to report being happy than even the wealthiest of unmarried adults. Sixty-four per cent of married people said they were very satisfied with the way their personal life is going compared with 43% of singles.
47. KEEP A JOURNAL
In 2007, Robert A. Emmons, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis and author of the book Thanks!, found one tool which over a period of time had a massive impact on the mental state of patients: a journal. Patients would write three things a day for which they were grateful. Set against a control group, the patients were watched for weeks. The journal entries could be something as small as “I’m grateful for the extra butter on my bread this morning” or “I’m glad traffic didn’t suck too much this morning”. But slowly, with the journal in mind, the patients started paying more attention to small blessings, and soon concentrated more on the good things that occurred in their life, rather than the bad. Over time, not only did the patients using the journal report a 25% jump in their happiness compared with the control group, they also—unexpectedly—were exercising an hour and a half more per week than the control group.
48. GET AWAY FROM THE LITTLE ONES
“Marriage makes people very happy, but children have the opposite effect: the happiness of couples, and the quality of their marriage, falls after the birth of the first child,” writes Arthur C. Brooks in his 2008 publication Gross National Happiness. This might raise many eyebrows, but studies have shown that taking time away from one’s children is very healthy for the happiness quotient of the parents. Now, that doesn’t mean you send them off to boarding school, while you take a trip to the Caribbean, but “they should travel because time away from children is always good for the mental, physical and sexual well-being of the couple,” says New Delhi-based psychiatrist and couple therapist Anurag Mishra. So go out for a couple of hours, and let the kids spend time with their grandparents or a babysitter.
49. WEAR A RED LACY BRA
Common logic would have it that lingerie has been designed specifically for the viewer, but even if no one will see the new bra under your clothes, it will give you the boost (confidence boost, that is) for a brighter day, according to Anuradha Burman, the product head of Etam, a French lingerie brand. “The gait (of a woman) changes if she’s wearing great lingerie,” says Burman. “She walks taller. She feels more confident.” But Burman warns: Many women do not really know their true bra size and each brand has slightly different measurement standards, so always get your size measured every time you try on a new brand.
Etam stores at Khan Market and Select Citywalk mall, New Delhi; Orchid City Centre and Linking Road, Mumbai; and Lido Mall, MG Road, Bangalore.