The 10 Best Pieces of Advice for a Happy and Healthy New Year

IMG_0206I am not a life coach, fitness guru, or even an academic all-star. I’m just a husband, father, grandfather, teacher, student, writer, cyclist, runner, and sometimes a grumpy older man who’s lived more than half a century. Given that it’s almost the beginning of a new year, I thought I ‘d write about a few of my goals for the next 12 months. Maybe, they’ll even last a lifetime, but for now, I’ll settle for the foreseeable future. Let me know what you think and if this helps you focus on the important parts of your life.

  1. Get Outside and Move – Sunshine, warm winds, rain, snow, sleet or hail. It doesn’t matter. We all have been given a great gift and we should cherish the beauty and wonder of our environment. Whether you live in the city, in a small town, or somewhere in between, we’re surrounded by a natural world that almost knows no bounds. Take a look. Get on a bike. Go for a walk, run, or hike. Swim in the ocean, lakes, and streams. With some regularity fill your lungs with fresh air and raise your heart rate. Become an endorphin junkie – you’ll feel better physically and mentally.
  1. Slow Down – We seem to steadily wish away large portions of our life: “I can’t wait for spring; When I graduate; When I get a little older; The next car I buy will be…” We say all of these and more as we constantly appear to look ahead. Cherish today, tomorrow will get here soon enough.


  1. Find A Friend – Humans were not meant to live alone. Whether it’s your wife, your sibling, your lover, or even the group of friends who are foolish enough to meet you for a bike ride, learn to share more of your life.
  1. Read – Did I mention that I was a teacher? Reading helps you understand the world and the people who populate the planet, but here’s the dirty little secret – it almost doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you learn to pick up something that interests you. Personally, I can’t think of anything better than a short story or novel, but it’s up to you. Just find time to read something that sparks an idea or thought.
  1. Listen to Music – Like reading, music helps us connect to others and are humanity. Well, there’s a bold statement, but it’s true. Listen to something that makes you smile, makes you cry, makes you think, or just makes you wonder where they came up with those notes or lyrics.
  1. Work – sometimes as a teacher, I jokingly tell my students the only thing I can really teach them is how to work. All of the old sayings about constant, steady effort seem to be true. Work builds character, gives you a sense of purpose and place and tends to instill a feeling of accomplishment. But best of all, work and a sense of purpose help you establish your unique and special place in the world.
  1. Remember Your Family – For many, family means everything. Make sure they know that. But here’s the rub, your family doesn’t have to be biological. Sometimes those we are closest to share not a single strand of our DNA. Family comes in many forms and flavors – celebrate them all.
  1. Smile – Laughter and a good attitude will carry you far – at least that’s what my grandmother told me. I think it’s true. Laughter is the best medicine and when you have a good attitude, it affects those around you in a positive way. Sometimes it’s as easy as a simple smile and a kind word.  IMG_0215
  1. Sleep – As a coach, I would sometimes tell my athletes that you can’t really work unless you learn to recover. For me, that’s true about sleep as well. Sleep nourishes our bodies and helps rejuvenate your mind and physique. And yes, the two go hand-in-hand.
  1. Savor Every Bite – Last, but certainly not least, try to eat in a healthy way. As someone who spent most of his working life writing software, I learned early on the principle of garbage-in, garbage-out. I think that extends to food as well. Our bodies are complicated, highly efficient, often awe-inspiring, machines. They need the right fuel and while donuts and coffee might bring a smile to your face, a steady diet of them will lead to trouble. For me, the easiest and the best advice is to try to eat foods that are closest to the farm, closest to the earth. Fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, and whole grain breads. Yes, I believe some carbs are healthy and nutritious, but everything in moderation. That includes all of the liquids that make their way into your diet.

I hope this helps, and I hope we all have a great year ahead. Thanks for listening.

David Arenstam

About David Arenstam

Originally from away, but here to stay - Maine is my home and I love writing stories about the people and places from my end of the state. I am a teacher and writer and my first novel, "Homecoming: A Soldier's Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption" is available now at