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Backstage Experts

15 Ways to Be Happy in 2013

15 Ways to Be Happy in 2013

You’re going to set goals for 2013. Admit it. No matter how much you say it’s not going to happen, it’s a ritual. And if you don’t do it, somehow there’s that little nagging voice telling you that there’s unfinished business. So, in the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, here are a few things that might just make it a little easier, even a little more fun, as you create your practice.

1. Identify the wonderful surprising things you accomplished in 2012. Write them down. Take them in. There’s your opening. Build from there.

2. Believe you can accomplish just about anything. Believe you can do more that you’ve ever done. Believe in your power to create the life you imagine.

3. Be happy! Aren’t we doing this artistic thing because we want to be happy? Isn’t that our genuine pursuit? (Yes, there’s that craving for drama and suffering, but that’s got to take a backseat to the joy.) Think about the things that truly make you happy. Focus on those and pursue them.

4. Let go of the things that make you feel like crap. Whatever gives you that tight or sick feeling in your stomach ­­- shut the window on your computer, stop the brain chatter, and turn to things that feel fantastic instead. It may not be easy, but it’s fundamental to harmonious work and life.

5. Take risks. Be ambitious. Let some of your goals scare you. Stretch. Do you feel your breath shortening already? That’s okay. Breathe deeply, and hold onto the rush of taking a leap, even though it’s scary. Because it’s scary. In that, let go of the need to control the outcome and dig into whatever’s in front of you.

6. Enjoy the hunt. The creating. The training. The writing. The getting in shape. So that it’s not just the goal; it’s the “getting there.” Welcome the process. And please know that it’s gonna take time. Be patient. Create a practice. Let that be your roadmap for 2013.

7. Know your superpowers! What’s your genius? Your force? Cultivate the best parts of yourself. How and when are you at your most generous, most creative, most productive, most inspired? You do have superpowers, you know. Call them up and put them into action.

8. Find the joy and pleasure in pursuing your goals. Make them enjoyable so they’re even more doable! If you want to get back on the exercise bike, make sure you’re watching Season 3 of “Downton Abbey” while riding uphill. If you want to eat better, take a raw food cooking class. If you plan to get (new) representation, drive to an unfamiliar beach and write a story.

9. Be realistic. Don’t overshoot. Yes, be ambitious. Absolutely push past your comfort zone. But set goals that are achievable. Make sure you have a few you can realize right away.

10. Be specific. Know how you’re going to realize your goals. It’s likely you’ve tried to start the year with the intent to lose 10 pounds, exercise three more times per week, cut out sugar, find ways to “network,” and by Jan. 17, it’s all gone down the tube. Try setting goals with a clear and specific practice in place. Not only can you define how exactly you might do it, you can also create a creative and entertaining process.

11. Create a ritual. A practice. Give yourself a simple three-week goal of daily practice, and being creatures of habit, new routines will emerge. Before you know it, a goal is amazingly achievable.

12. Be generous. Find ways in which you can serve others. What can you give of yourself, your time, your stuff, etc.? How can that translate into daily giving? How many ways can you find to take the focus off yourself?

13. Connect with your passion. Add that to what makes you happy. It’s what stirs you deeply. What drives you like mad. Don’t be afraid of your hunger for it, whatever it is. The aching is already in there. See what happens when you grant it power and set it free.

14. Love the struggle. It’s gonna be messy, full of obstacles and disappointments. So what? That’s life. Embrace it. It’s rich with information and energy. Observe yourself as you go through the first few weeks of the year. As soon as judgment, self-criticism, obsessing, or complaining creep in, stop. Witness. Shift. Keep going.

15. Find your true resolve. Your determination. Your conviction. It’s the single thing that has driven any of my successes in life, from directing my first movie to finding a surrogate to carry our embryos. I would be nowhere without my tenacity. It’s everything, and it’s what separates those who get what they want from those who don’t.

This is exciting. A clean slate means infinite possibilities. And hell, if you eat too much or smoke that cigarette or bite your nails or skip your yoga class, embrace that too. You’re being human. Ours is a wonderfully messy, human, unpredictable experience. It’s all part of the continual evolution of our extraordinary, creative lives. Happy 2013! Be happy!

Risa Bramon Garcia recently started a Studio in L.A. with partner, Steve Braun, called The Bramon Garcia Braun Studio, dedicated to actors’ whole journey, connecting craft with career. Visit Risa’s website, active and inviting for actors and other artists alike

For the past 30 years Risa has worked consistently as a director, producer, casting director, writer, and teacher, collaborating with some of the most groundbreaking artists in the world.  Having directed two feature films ‐ the cult classic, "200 cigarettes," and most recently, "The Con Artist" in Canada - Risa’s also directed for television, including multiple episodes of "The Twilight Zone" for New Line/UPN, and shows for HBO, Lifetime, and Comedy Central. She’s directed dozens of plays in New York (The Ensemble Studio Theatre, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club) and in Los Angeles. Risa’s casting résumé includes more than 65 feature films, classics such as "Something Wild," "At Close Range," "Angel Heart," "Fatal Attraction," "Wall Street," "Talk Radio," "Jacob’s Ladder," "Born on the Fourth of July," "JFK," "The Doors," "Sneakers," "The Joy Luck Club," "True Romance," "Speed," "How To Make An American Quilt," "Dead Presidents," "Twister," "Benny and Joon," and "Flirting With Disaster;" and numerous television shows, including "Roseanne," "CSI:NY," "The Cape," and most recently "A Gifted Man" for CBS and the pilot "Rewind" for Syfy. She’s about to start casting the Showtime series, "Masters of Sex." She’s just begun casting the Showtime series, "Masters of Sex." Risa served as a producer on Oliver Stone’s films "Heaven and Earth" and "Natural Born Killers," movies she also cast.

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