12/30/2014 11:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2014: Reflections on Life, Simple Living and Happiness

2014-12-27-kgnewyear.jpgAt the end of every year I have a habit of going back and reviewing things that worked well in my life in the last 365 days. It's good to reflect on those things that helped increase our happiness -- and be really clear about those that didn't, so we can do something different. And because a big part of living SMART 365 is staying conscious, awake and aware -- this practice might prove valuable for all of us. I'll start by sharing a few ideas that increased the quality of my life in 2014.

#1 Evolve or petrify. Change may be inevitable in this world but most of us, me included, tend to avoid it like the plague. Instead, the most vibrant and alive things in the Universe are constantly evolving, growing, changing and adapting -- and if we aren't doing that, we petrify. So unless the people you know, the activities you participate in, the words you write, the thoughts you think, the experiences you create are different in some ways from one year ago -- you are on your way to becoming prematurely petrified.

#2 You can't have too many friends. I recently heard an interview of a wise old man who, when asked, said that the thing he valued the most in his long life was his friendships. In his view, friendship came above love in this regard because he believed that loving others is a human imperative. Instead, he pointed out that our friendships are our chosen relationships and they deepen and increase the quality of our life in hundreds of ways. This year I've strengthened and added to the friendships in my life and I am better for them all.

#3 Right-sizing is an amazing way to live. Ever since Thom and I made the bold step to rightsize our lives a couple of years ago it has only gotten more rewarding as time goes by. So much of the stuff that we think we need is really just a habit that can be broken and let go of -- and once you do you'll never go back to running that rat race and thinking more is better. Being debt-free and embracing a more minimal lifestyle puts the focus on the freedom and space to express and experience what is deeply satisfying.

#4 Happiness is much easier when you're healthy and feel good. This has been a good year for Thom and I but we do not take our health for granted. We know of others who haven't been as fortunate and are constantly reminded that feeling good about yourself and your life is much easier when you are pain free or have good medical care.

#5 Numbers don't mean that much. For the first couple of years after starting SMART Living 365 I had very few subscribers to this blog and hardly any Facebook friends. Along the way I made some connections and those numbers gradually begin to climb. At first it was very exciting to see that people were interested in what I was writing about -- but truthfully I am the same person as I was before. The big lesson here is to do what you do because it comes from your soul -- not because the world is paying any attention at all.

#6 You can't please everyone so you might as well please yourself. This lesson falls on the heels of #5. It is a reminder to stay true to ourselves regardless of whether anyone else gets us or not. As a writer you find out very fast that not everyone likes your style, or your topic, so you have to make a choice -- do you write to increase your numbers, or do your write what your heart wants to express and you feel guided to communicate?

#7 You can get a lot done if you don't care who gets the credit. I heard this a long time ago and this year got the opportunity to make it mine. I volunteered for a "project," put in quite a bit of work on it, and then at the last minute the idea and related work was high-jacked by another person. The thing is, the project was and still is a great gift that helped a lot of people. My ego wanted others to know how much I did to create it--but ultimately the good it did went far beyond me and that ultimately was what needed to happen.

#8 Practicing gratitude every day puts your focus on the good in your life. Every month during November I do a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge that makes me focus on gratitude every single day for the entire month. Sure it is a lot of work but there are so many amazing benefits from that experience that I believe that making sincere appreciation for everything in our life is a critical element to a SMART life.

#9 Helping/Serving Others is a Simple Way to Feel Valuable. I have had the privilege in my life to be a part of several communities that provided service to others. Every single time I participate I am reminded that by giving I receive so much more than I offer. It's so important to remember -- especially those times when I'm feeling blue -- that by helping others I am the one who is most served.

#10 If you get to "make it up," then why not make the story of your 2014 as happy, peaceful and content as possible? Quite a few articles I wrote and researched this year proved that human perception is very individual. What we see, remember and think about is based upon our personal worldviews and biases. On the other hand we are meaning-seeking beings that will weave a story out of any experience that happens in our life based upon those perceptions. If we can accept that as true -- then why on Earth would we live with stories that did not make us happy, fulfilled and at peace?

So those are a few of my reflections as 2014 draws to an end. If any of these apply to your life, you're welcome to use them as intentions for the coming year -- or write out your own truths and use them instead. If anything, SMART Living is a reminder for us all to live as consciously as possible so that every year is a collection of 365 days that add up to a more meaningful, peaceful and happy life.

What are your reflections on 2014? I'd love to read your comments below...

Kathy Gottberg believes in living healthy, authentic, fearless and SMART. Follow her journey at SMART Living