At this point, many of us still haven’t made solid New Year resolutions yet, and those who have are likely second guessing them. Part of the problem with New Year resolutions is that we often thing we have to “go big or go home.” In other words, we think we need to accomplish 100% of our goal immediately or else we may as well quit. However, studies have shown that taking small and simple steps, rather than giant leaps, make certain habits easier to acquire and maintain. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Take things slow.
That being said, this week we’d like to suggest 5 habits that you can incorporate into your life to make it more fulfilling. These habits have been shown to increase happiness and overall life satisfaction. If you’re not sure where to start with your New Year resolutions, consider one of these ideas as a starting point.
This may seem insignificant but prioritizing gratitude can improve mood and strengthen relationships. Gratitude can be practiced in a variety of ways. You could create a gratitude journal, where you regularly list things that you are grateful for. You could also try writing letters of gratitude to people who have made an impact on you. Additionally, you could prioritize telling others of your gratitude for them in person. However, you choose to do so, increasing gratitude in your life will allow you to improve both your mood and your perspective.
Similar to gratitude, regularly expressing forgiveness can be stress relieving and uplifting. Many of us have someone who we may need to forgive. Not for their sakes, necessarily, but to help ourselves move on. In some cases, expressing forgiveness in person may be the best technique. However, in some cases expressing forgiveness directly may be uncomfortable or even dangerous. Another option is to write a letter of forgiveness which is never sent. You could also begin a forgiveness journal, where you regularly write letters of forgiveness to people who hurt you, whether that be in a life-altering way, or in a small way (such as cutting you off on the freeway). Taking time to regularly forgive, even in an indirect way, can be habit forming and freeing.
This is not the same as a weight loss goal. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve depressive symptoms and increase energy. Even just prioritizing exercise sessions twice a week can make a powerful impact on mood and motivation. Start small and the desire to exercise will come with time.
When we focus on serving others, we’re able to forget about our own problems and find fulfillment in loving those around us. Everyday contains opportunities to serve others, even in small ways. Whether it be holding open the door for someone or providing a genuine compliment, there are little moments everyday that can be used in a more wholesome way. Challenge yourself to do at least five acts of service each day or choose someone whom you can focus on to serve each month. Get creative with this habit. There are many ways to make service more of a habit in your life.
Savor the Moment
Savoring the moment involves an experience of stepping back and appreciating what you are doing. This can be done while doing fun activities, but it also can be done when you are engaged in a project at work, going for a walk, or even doing chores. Learn to enjoy the process of living and recognize the positives in your daily experience. Application can come in many forms, including setting an alarm to remind you to take a moment to savor at various times of day or just paying attention to your level of engagement and appreciating when that level is high. Life is full of little moments that should be appreciated. Make doing so a habit.