There’s something about the post-Christmas hangover, whether it be from too much wine or too many cookies, that makes us all want to jump out of bed and make ourselves ‘better people’. We create Pinterest boards and vision boards for a new year that could be different than the past. I love a good vision board as much as the next person, buuuuuuut maybe it’s idealistic to think that the change of a calendar day will transform everything that happened in the past 365 days. But maybe it’s not. It seems that all resolutions center around the idea of happiness and becoming “happier”. If we diet, we will be happier, or if we are more social, we will be happier. Is that actually the case? Can we actually keep that up?
Normally, I hate New Year’s resolutions because I think people set completely unrealistic goals with a constant letdown once you forget about your resolution come March. It’s the worst feeling to set this massive goal of an entirely changed year (what kind of pressure is that!) and then “fail” the first month in. I’m definitely that person. I do this in my everyday life, to be honest, and it’s really tough to be constantly let down by an inability to be a “do it all” at the speed of my own expectations.
What if you could make a few small changes in the way you think and in your daily habits that would actually improve your happiness? I already started trying several of the ideas on the list below and I’m already feeling like a new person. Let’s not focus on anything material for these resolutions, we can get to shopping later (girl, you know I hit those post-holiday sales). Let’s focus on resolutions that could make a difference in your stress levels and in your happiness levels.
Many of these resolutions are actually rooted in science – and have proven to increase your happiness levels. Comment below on what you want to try, what you already do and resonates with you!
ONE: LAUGH AT YOUR MISTAKES
It’s easy to bog ourselves down when we have a small mess up. Sometimes a little mistake can feel like the end of the world in the moment when in reality, it will be no big deal in the long term. I used to be the queen of doing this! I used to apologize for the smallest things while beating myself up for mistakes that truly don’t matter. That’s why in 2018, I challenge you (and myself) to stop sweating the small stuff. If I make a small mistake, I’m going to ask myself this question: will I remember this moment in 5 years? Can I learn something quick from this and move on?
For example, I was on a ski trip with my boyfriend a few weeks ago. I forgot to look at the map for the happy hour spot we were headed to and I brought us a solid hour out of the way in ten-degree weather. Normally, I would have beat myself up mentally for making this mistake (seems silly but we all do it!), losing an hour of vacation and freezing my butt off. Instead, I made jokes and laughed at the situation. It made it so much more fun to just laugh and be silly about the craziness of the situation.
Think you can do that, too?
TWO: DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION
Perfection is an impossible standard to have. I’m not staying to not have expectations, however, the idea of something always perfect is impossible to achieve. With this attitude, the second something goes slightly off from ‘perfect’, you will be disappointed and stressed. Whether you are asking for perfection with yourself or someone else, it is impossible. Be ok with the little imperfections, who knows, you may even love yourself or a situation more for them.
THREE: GET SLEEP AND DRINK SOME FREAKING WATER
This one may seem cliche but I can’t stress it enough! This is a resolution I’m making for myself this year. I am the worst at remembering to drink water throughout the day, in addition to getting a full nights sleep. I end up feeling dehydrated and tired which has a whole slew of other effects on my body, stress level, and mood.
In addition, drinking water has so many health benefits, from clearer skin to more energy and lower stress levels.
There are actually apps that remind you to drink water. As for sleeping, track your sleep with a Fitbit, get a new pillow or some darkening curtains. In the past year, I actually added all three of these things into my life and I was transformed! Being able to sleep sounded night after night was so amazing.
Here are some products that could help you with this resolution.
FOUR: MEDITATE AKA CHILL THE F OUT
I used to be completely naive to the idea of meditation! I thought it was something happened at the end of yoga class, where we took a little nap. I wish I was actually kidding with that statement! Actually, I learned about mediation because my work gave us access to a program for free and now I do it every day. It turns out that taking 10 minutes to meditate can have tons of health benefits, but more importantly, improves your concentration, happiness, and relationships.
Meditation is more about taking time to be in the moment. I use the app Headspace (which you can download totally for free) every morning for 10 minutes.
One thing to note, don’t get discouraged if it’s hard to mediate the first few times you try it. Being in the moment and meditating is not about judging yourself or how “good” you are meditating (there is no good or bad), it’s just about taking the time to do it! And trust me, it makes a huge difference in your happiness and your day to day. I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you.
FIVE: GET A HOBBY
If you’ve followed my blog, you know my love of “adult extra-curriculars” AKA having a hobby as a 20-something. If you don’t already have a hobby, outside of your 9-5 day job, get one in 2018. Here’s why: I firmly believe that sometimes your day job can get unpredictable. Not only is your 9-5 tied to your income, there is always a possibility of it being volatile. You could have a co-worker you are not a fan of or a hard boss.
With a hobby, you can have something that brings you happiness that is in your control. I actually became a spin instructor in the last year and it has brought me so much happiness! I absolutely love having something I can own without it being “work”.
SIX: PRACTICE GRATEFUL-NESS
I am a big believer in saying “thank you” and showing my graciousness for others. This year as a resolution, I am going to start a gratitude journal, where I write three things I am grateful for every night. It’s been proven that showing gratitude can actually increase your long-term happiness. Let me know if you want to start a gratitude journal with me! I just ordered this journal to write in because it’s cute and I want to remind myself that I’m killing it.
Think I’m a #basicb? Well, 1. I am, and 2. who cares, doing this is supposed to be GREAT for you.
Don’t put too much pressure on what you write in this journal each day. It can be anything. You can be thankful Taylor Swift’s new album is catchy or that your commute that day was easy. Just focus on things you are grateful for!
SEVEN: BE OPEN TO CHANGE
Similar to #2, knowing that there is always a possibility of change in your life will make it easier when it comes. Because it WILL come! This is an easy resolution to practice, just open little changes that come your way with an excited reaction, rather than a nervous one. Think about your life a year ago, I bet a lot of things happened that were unexpected. Didn’t they? How did you react when those things happened? If you were already open and excited about the change, then you are set. If you were nervous or unhappy about the change, consider practicing and taking on this resolution.
Did you have to change your schedule at the last minute? No big deal! Did Starbucks give you almond milk instead of soy? Sounds delicious!
EIGHT: GET YOUR BOOTY MOVING
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t,” Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde. I SO AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT! It doesn’t matter what kind of fitness or movement you like to get into, the simple act of moving around every day will increase your happiness big time.
The trick with working out is to find something you love. If you like to dance (even if you’re not ‘good’ at it) try Zumba or hip-hop! I personally found a love for high-intensity boot camps, like Barry’s Bootcamp. Barry’s makes me feel like I’m in a club and I always get a high after doing – so it ends up being a great work out for me!
There are so many different ways you can stay active, the most important thing is that you do it. I really want to encourage you to not focus on a diet or losing weight as a result of moving, just the fact that you are moving. Changing the way your body looks can take a long time and although it’s a great motivator, I would rather focus on the health benefits as a result of staying active.
Also for me, working out just makes me feel great and more confident! And who doesn’t want that?!
NINE: FIND LITTLE MOMENTS TO FOCUS ON OTHERS
It is SO easy to get in your own head with your own problems. I have made a conscious effort to continually do nice things for others, which selfishly helps my own happiness. These types of gestures can be small, not take a lot of time or money and are easy. For example, is there a homeless person that sits around you? Whenever I head into a Walgreens, I try and buy something little extra for someone who is outside without a home (obviously, be safe when you do this).
Have a friend who is going through a rough time? Send them a handwritten card! Doing consistently nice things for others, without expecting something in return, really will boost your happiness.
If you don’t have the money, you can even just take the time to say something nice to someone who needs it – without expecting others in return. I am getting warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
TEN: TAKE A RISK
You’ll learn that I am a huge believer in always getting out of your comfort zone. Find moments in 2018 to do just that. Can you try a food you’ve never tried before? Could you book a trip to someplace new? Talk to that guy who gives you butterflies in your stomach? Whatever feels like a “risk” to you, push yourself to do it. I always want to live life to the fullest and sometimes that means doing things that scare us. Long term, one of my worst fears would be that nerves would get in the way of what I truly wanted, so I want to encourage everyone to take some risks in 2018. I’m not saying you have to go skydiving (although if you, more power to ya!). Just find moments to take small risks to get your own head, it really will make you happier.
And if you try something new and you hate it, who cares? It doesn’t have to work out, it’s more important that you tried it.
Let’s try even ONE of these New Year’s Resolutions together! Which one do you want to try? Comment below!
I feel confident that if you even choose ONE thing from this list – 2018 will be your happiest year yet.