At the start of each year, we all sit down and think about our New Year’s resolutions. I have thought long and hard about this topic, and have now come to understand why some people do not like New Year’s resolutions. To start, they can be a source of failure, year after year. Most of the time we have a tendency to pick resolutions that are inherently unrewarding, that necessitate relentless hard work in a way that makes us feel small rather than grateful.
Personally, we have all made those mistakes, and up until now I did not like New Year’s resolutions either. Now, however, I have come to love New Year’s resolutions. I see them as a way to transform myself in small increments. It’s what we like to call baby steps towards forming new positive and meaningful habits. It is during the winter solstice that inch-by-inch we can take small steps towards our newer and better self. By spring, new habits have taken hold, and the green leaves of growth unfurl. Over the years, I have learned a lot of tricks for successfully keeping my resolutions and in the last three years, the science around willpower and habits has made great advancements, which also helps tremendously. The key and single most important factor in keeping your resolution is to make the right resolution. Make the wrong one and you won’t keep it; you will just add another habit to the “fail” list. We suggest this year that you pick just one resolution that research has proven to make you happier, and stick to it. Remember: baby steps.
Today, we want to share with you some of our favorite resolutions that have proven to make people happier. The first resolution, and possibly the most powerful one, is to make it a priority to spend more times with your friends. Study after study shows that we tend to be happier when we feel connected to our nearest and dearest, when we feel like we are a part of a group or a social circle. Make a resolution to routinely reach out to others. Now sure how, or feel too busy? Join or start a group that meets regularly. We recommend an amazing app called, Meetup. Based on your location, you will find hundreds of activities to chose from where you can meet a number of different people. Some of my closest friends have come from book clubs, cooking classes, and standing family dinners. When we routinize our friendships, we remove the hassle of scheduling, and increase the odds that we will actually spend time with people we love or want to get to know better. This app has something for everyone. Give it a try today!
Our favorite happiness booster is to give thanks: to my mom for loving my unconditionally; to the higher power for the abundance that surrounds me; to the kids in my class that always make me laugh. Equally good is to give something else—a helping hand, a compliment, a much needed $1 bill—even if it is just a tiny act of kindness. In a world that is more focused on getting than giving, a New Year’s resolution to do one kind thing each day, or to give thanks in one small way, is a pretty radical act. When we make giving a habit, we make gratitude and kindness central themes in our lives. In so doing, we transform our lives with joy.
While this last New Year’s resolution is pretty common, we all have to do more of this. Getting more sleep and regular physical exercise. We know, that’s not one resolution, it’s two, but the science around these physical happiness boosters is pretty compelling. There is an enormous amount of research to show that we will all be less stressed, less sick, and less grouchy in the New Year if we get a little extra sleep. Try increasing your sleep 10 minutes a night for a week, and then another 10 the next week, and so on until you are regularly getting your eight hours. If you aren’t active and you want to lose a few pounds, or you frequently feel a bit depressed, try adding more activity into your life in a way that feels fun or luxurious. It is miraculous that people can change themselves simply because they want to. New Year’s resolutions are an amazing act of creation, an art form where the canvas is the self. Cheers to making 2016 your Happiest year yet!