Mind and Body

How to Have a Happier New Year

If you're a workaholic who is addicted to caffeine and has less and less time to spend with family and friends, the New Year might be the perfect time for a change. Author Todd Patkin talks about how having a nervous breakdown actually led him to find true happiness


We live in a society full of workaholics, who are addicted to caffeine—and it’s hard to find the time to relax.

Todd Patkin, author of “Finding Happiness,” knows this all too well. At the age of 36, he suffered a nervous breakdown—and changed his lifestyle for the better.

“I think I was like a lot of Americans, I had to constantly succeed, and I was working all the time,” Patkin said.

Patkin said he was “addicted” to exercise and fractured his foot, which slowed him down for the first time. His wife, who suffered from infertility, had a miscarriage—and Patkin fell into a deep depression.

“As horrific as it was, my breakdown was actually also my breakthrough,” said Patkin, admitting that he had wanted to ‘disappear.’

“It was an in-your-face wake-up call that forced me to realize that I was driving myself too hard, and for the wrong reasons. I finally had to say, ‘Enough is enough! I am done destroying myself and ruining my life.’”

Patkin explained his theory of how people have derailed from the American success story.

“Our ancestors came to America and had to look at everything they were doing wrong in order to succeed,” he said. “They failed to understand that their children would follow (that behavior) in their footsteps.”

Patkin pointed out it’s important to tell your children what they are doing right, amidst the things they need to improve upon.

If you would like to make a New Year’s resolution to become a more positive person, Patkin suggested the following tips:

1. Decide you’ve had enough with being unhappy. This is simple, yet difficult, because you may have to change lifelong patterns

2. Start exercising. Exercise releases endorphins.

3. Tune out the negative news. We are constantly reading bad news in the newspaper or watching horrific things on TV. Read something uplifting before you go to sleep at night.

4. Learn to love yourself. Give yourself daily pep talks – and be your own cheerleader. Look at the things you’ve accomplished, instead of the things you have done wrong.

And—above all—focus on what’s good in your life.

“Even if you don’t have money,” Patkin said, “you have two eyes and you are not blind.”

Click on Patkin’s website for more inspiring ideas.