14 Ways to a New Happier You in 2008.

 This artivle was recently published in the Tri Valley Magazine.  Notice the number one thing to do to get a new happier you in 2008! 14 Ways to a New Happier You in 2008
by Allison Firestone
Tri Valley Magazine, January/February 2008 Issue

Thankfully, it’s a new year.
TIME TO TAKE STOCK OF 2007. DID YOU LOSE THOSE 10 POUNDS YOU SWORE YOU WOULD? STOP SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY ON CLOTHES? START SAVING? VOLUNTEER FOR A GOOD CAUSE? TAKEUP A NEW HOBBY?

If you’ve failed on most every front, don’t despair. Luckily, the New Year gives us all a second chance at a new lease on life. This year, instead of making those same impossible-to-stick-with resolutions, try simply aiming to reenergize your life. We promise that each of these 14 ideas will leave you feeling renewed and recharged in 2008. So here’s to a new happier you.

1. COLOR YOUR WORLD.
Paint one room a totally bright, bold color. Think dark blue, bold magenta, or bright yellow in the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. Use the room and your favorite colors as your inspiration, says Jill Denton, Bay Area interior designer and owner of Changing Spaces in Pleasanton. If it’s an active room, a color like red can help add energy. For the bedroom? Something cool and calming like a light blue shade is most relaxing. Warm brick colors are great in dining rooms. “It’s cozy and it makes people want to eat,” Denton said. If you’re skeptical of painting an entire room a bright color, accent walls can be a good choice, too. “Accent walls can really make people go ‘wow’ when they walk in a room,” Denton adds.
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2Set a Physical Fitness Goal You’ll Actually Enjoy Achieving We always resolve to work out more. But making a commitment to being active doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat. So set a goal that excites you. If you thrive on competition, sign up for a race, like Bay To Breakers race on May 18. Start training now and register on the web site at www.ingbaytobreakers.com. Or make Sundays your day to try a new hike.Check out www.bahiker.com for a massive list of East Bay trails. If you’re the type who needs someone to hold you accountable, sign up for a personal trainer or try the four-week Bay Area Boot Camp in Walnut Creek or Pleasanton. Get more information at www.bayareabootcamp.com. Not only will you have a coach to keep you on track, but you’ll have to pay up front, giving you another incentive to stick it out.
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3. GIVE YOUR FRIENDS A BREAK. GET A THERAPIST.
Seriously, though, talking to someone about those things that incessantly plague you can do wonders for your outlook on life. Ask friends or consult your doctor for referrals to good therapists.
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4. LEAVE THOSE FROWN LINES BEHIND.
Sick of slathering all those creams, rubs, peels and screens on your face to no avail? There’s nothing wrong with some subtle outside assistance if it’ll improve your state of mind. Dr.Stephen Ronan of Blackhawk Plastic Surgery in Danville says he is the first in Northern California to offer the new Pearl laser treatment, which requires only topical numbing. “It’s a resurfacing procedure,” said Ronan. “It works very well on brown spots, wrinkles, texture, smoothness and pore size.” Also popular is the new short scar facelift. “There’s no incision behind the ear,” said Ronan. “It’s a safer surgery with less downtime, and it leaves a more natural look, less surgical or pulled.”
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5. Breathe Solor
Do something all alone, just for you. Hike Mount Diablo, breathe in the fresh, crisp winter air, and listen to the silence. Try taking your dog to Dougherty Hills Dog Park in Dublin and chill out with a book while your pooch makes some new friends. Or, if the sun’s shining, head to downtown Walnut Creek, kick back on one of the many outdoor benches with a cup of coffee, and peoplewatch. Even if it’s just for an hour, it’ll give you that mental recharge you desperately need.
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6. CHANGE DIRECTION
Is a career change in the cards? Amber Rosenberg, a San Francisco-based life coach (www.pacificlifecoach.com), offers freephone consultations if you’re considering seeking help to make significant lifechanges, like a career change. “People often inquire about coaching when they’re facing a change or a challenge in their personal or professional lives,” said Rosenberg. The first call gives you a chance to decide whether coaching is right foryou.
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7. RENEW YOUR KARMA. VOLUNTEER.
Scared of commitment? There are plenty of local one-time volunteer opportunities. Habitat for Humanity’s East Bay chapter allows volunteers to sign up for days that they want to help build homes in areas like Oakland and Alameda (see www.eastbayhabitat.org for details). Home at Last Animal Rescue offers both large- and small-scale commitments, from temporarily housing an animal to walking dogs (www.homeatlastrescue.org).You can find lists of other opportunities on www.idealist.org. All you have to do is search by your city.
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8. BUY OR DO SOMETHING TOTALLY INDULGENT, UTTERLY UNNECESSARY, AND ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.
Who cares if the holidays just happened – consider it an investment in your own happiness. Snag a season pass to Heavenly at Lake Tahoe, or get a great haircut at one of those expensive salons that includes a scalp massage, complimentary wine, and three people working on perfecting your look, like Victoria’s Salon in downtown Pleasanton. This full-service salon also offers creative spa packages. Try the Heaven on Earth treatment—it includes a facial, massage, mani/pedi,scalp treatment, and hairstyling, plus lunch. Or, if you’re more of a gadget person, splurge on a top-of-the-line phone like Apple’s iPhone that does everything from taking your picture to categorizing your email. (It’ll help you stick with your “Get Organized” resolution, right?)
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9. FENG SHUI YOUR WAY TO PROSPERITY
Feng Shui, the traditional Chinese practice of arranging an environment that promotes peacefulness and prosperity, can be used to energize your professional life. Alexis Summerfield, a Feng Shui expert based in Lafayette, said that space-clearing techniques, colors, and symbols can encourage positive energy flow in the office, attracting wealth, good luck, and a positive reputation. “First of all, you gotta clean it up,” Summerfield says.“Old files and storage block energy.” Next, she suggested focusing on three areas of your office or cubicle: the back left corner, the front right and the back middle. Each has symbols and colors that attract that area’s specific energy. To invite wealth, put water, or a picture of water, and something purple in the back left corner. In the front right corner, which represents luck and good fortune, place something white, and a representative of prosperity, like information on your top clients and a white crystal. In the back middle, which represents reputation, add something red and fiery, like a red plant that points up in a flame-like way. Whatever you decide, the most important thing is being aware of the intention behind the object. “Otherwise, it’s just stuff,” Summerfield says.
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10. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS.
Do you dream about a trip to Paris or cooking like Emeril? Whatever it is that spurs your spirit to soar, pursue your passion this year. Sign up for a hands-on cooking class at the new cooking school at Draeger’s in Danville, where you can take a master class in chocolate from Berkeley’s famous chocolate maker John Scharffenberger or learn how to make handmade pasta or Mexican desserts. Check out www.Meetup.com, which lists scores of local groups that meet monthly to share a love of anything from happy hour, to contemporary fiction to French language. If yoga’s your thing, there’s a Bay Area Yoga meet-up, as well as one for dog lovers, the Small Breed Dogs group. Not only will you have something to look forward to, but you’ll meet people with similar passions. (Singles, your ears should be perking up right about now.) Even if your passion is a little…ahem…unique, search around. There’s even a monthly meet-up group for Bay Area cemetery walks.
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11. ELIMINATE MONEYWORRIES..
Learn how to invest your money wisely for now and for the future. Benjamin Wong, Certified Financial Planner at Pleasanton’s Foothill Securities, Inc., advises beginning with two basic steps. “Put 10 percent of your earnings away toward your long-term financial goals and don’t touch it,” he says. “And start a money market account for your near-term financial goals, so you don’t touch that retirement money.” The long-term savings should be put into a quality mutual fund, or a 401(k), Roth or IRA, which will shelter it from taxes. “You should never need to worry about your retirement,” Wong adds.
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12. COMMIT TO A MONTHLY DINNERWITH FRIENDS..
Write it on your calendar now and stick to it for the next 12 months. Use it as an excuse to get together and try all those restaurants you’ve always wanted to check out. Spend a Saturday winetasting in Livermore (check out www.Livermorewine.com) or have brunch at Café Cacao, the ScharffenBerger Chocolate Maker’s restaurant in Berkeley. (They also give free, hour-long factory tours.) Try a different ethnic cuisine each month, perhaps starting with the varied Asian restaurants in Dublin’s new Ulfert Center, like the Vietnamese eatery Vin Pearl, or Sansar for North Indian fare on Pleasanton’s Main Street. Fire and Ice in Livermore provides upscale ambience, Mongolian barbecue,and allows diners to pick the ingredients they want a chef to grill for them.
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13. ELIMINATE THAT POISONOUS PERSON FROM YOUR LIFE..
Let’s face it: cleaning out your closet is overrated; a pesky ex will do a lot more damage than any old flannel jacket or circa 1990 pair of patent-leather shoes. So forget your closet and clean up your personal life, because life’s too short to waste time on people who make you feel bad. Delete that ex’s phone number, stop feeling obligated to make plans with that “friend” who leaves you rethinking your dessert order and spend that extra time pursuing new relationships. (See #10 for creative spots to meet new people.)
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14. DETOXIFY YOUR BODY AND CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS..
“People eat a lot of sugar and a lot of fat over the holidays,” says Lynn Keller, a certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant in Danville. “So our bodies are a little beat up.” Keller said one way to reverse the over-indulgence is with some abbreviated detoxing. “Take a day and only consume warm liquids with a little brown rice and vegetables, but mostly broth and tea,” she said. Keller advised taking two days for this, because on the second day the digestive system cleanses itself. But Keller said detox is only the first step in breaking unhealthy holiday eating patterns.Consider trying a whole new approach to your diet, one that addresses the needs of the body,mind, and spirit. “We believe that it is never too late to restore and heal the body with the power of nutrition,” Keller says.
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