Winter is for nesting: Take time to examine your life

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By Kay Kennedy

Because we spend a lot of time indoors during the winter, we can channel these increased hours spent nesting to allow for a thoughtful examination of our life and goals.

 Often, resolutions to change financial burdens or eating habits are made in the beginning of the year, but it’s also a great time to assess life goals and priorities, and how they relate to happiness.
This year, following several trying economic years, offers an opportunity to reevaluate what you want out of life and how you can find happiness with what you have.
“Simply Beautiful: Choosing an Uncluttered, Focused, Rich Life,” www.ca.uky.edu/HES/fcs/FACTSHTS/FAM-SAM.126.pdf, offers several suggestions to help you find happiness and joy in the life you live now. Here are some suggestions from that publication.
Live your values. Here is an exercise to make sure you are doing so. List the five top things you want to do in life. Next, pretend you will die in a few months, and list the things you want to do before you die. Compare the two lists. Are they in sync? How will you achieve those dreams?
Find balance. Are you living your core values? If it’s important to simplify your life and live with more balance, consider what steps you can take. Does your workplace offer flex-time, or shorter work weeks with reduced pay? If not, then perhaps you could work four longer days and have a three-day weekend every week. This could free you to do the things that are important to you, whether that means spending time with family, staying at home and reducing your carbon footprint, or starting a home-based business.
Need or greed? Take time to examine your spending purchases. There is a big difference between needing something and wanting it, and if you want something you can’t afford, you should be aware of your propensity to overspend. Consider how spending impacts your savings account as well as the planet. You might find you can do without.
Clear away clutter and make a fresh start. Donate, give away or throw out unnecessary possessions and streamline your life. Decluttering helps you feel lighter and more organized. Think quality, not quantity, of possessions.
Be aware of how you spend leisure time. Are you making the best use of it? Shopping has become one of the most popular activities. Is that really how you want to spend your time? You may decide to find other ways to channel energy, whether through sports, a reading club, or learning a new skill. When you are fulfilled, happy, and your time is occupied, you may shop less. Television and computers (in all forms) also gobble hours of leisure time.
Find time to get enough sleep. Sleep is essential to health and well-being, yet Americans get by on too little sleep, with many people reporting drowsiness. Don’t let that happen to you. Set a bed time and stick to it \you owe it to yourself.
It’s too easy to say  “do what you love,” because we are all constrained by reality. But, within reason, find ways to do what you love. If you cannot change professions to follow your dreams, find ways to satisfy those dreams. If you would love to work in film, watch every film you can to educate and delight yourself. If you dream of scuba diving in the Seychelles, take a course on scuba at the Y. If you want to teach children but can’t go back to school right now, find an organization that serves children where you can volunteer.
Be grateful. Count the gifts in your life and rejoice in them. Let this become a habit, and greater happiness and contentment will follow.
For more information, contact the Washington County  Cooperative Extension Service.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.