Achievable New Year’s Resolutions for Happier Living

Perhaps this is the year we focus less on diet and fitness resolutions and instead think about ways to find more peace and happiness instead? 2020 was a year we will never forget, and while we can finally look forward to a new year ahead, it’s also a time where we need to be extra kind to ourselves. In many respects, our lives were on pause in 2020, so our new year’s resolutions are going to look very different as a result. For me, I’ve learned to appreciate the little things: cooking new recipes, reading fabulous novels, and taking long walks outdoors. And what it has made me realize is that I can find peace and happiness in small acts. My 2021 goals aren’t as big as years past, but I think they’re still as meaningful. Here I share some of the resolutions I’ve made to myself, and maybe you can find some inspiration in them too!

Create a goals club

This is something my friends and I committed to this year: We’re part of a virtual goals club, whereby we all share our goals for the next year. However big or small, telling each other our goals helps us stay accountable to them. When you confide in a friend, you are more likely to stick with your plan. We also plan on doing a quarterly “check-in” to connect and give each other a boost should one of us struggle with motivation.

Person starting to prepare a recipe

Cook a new recipe each week

This isn’t about cooking healthier recipes (although you could certainly do that too) but more about diversifying your recipe repertoire. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s exciting taking on a new cuisine you haven’t tried before. It’s as much of an education on culture and traditions as it is about taste. You can learn so much in the kitchen, and there are some fantastic cookbooks out this new year, too.

Read more books

The winter months are the perfect time to turn off Netflix and pick up a book. I have a Goodreads account, which helps me find titles I’m interested in, and I try to set a little goal for how many books I plan to read by years-end. It is a great sense of accomplishment when you make a goal for yourself and meet that goal. Reading is so transformative: stories can take you to another world and in another life. While travel may remain elusive for us well into 2021, a book can make you feel like you’re touring the world. I love that.

Plants and flowers

Build a plant family

Did you know that indoor plants have been shown to lower stress levels, and that actively taking care of plants can calm our nervous systems and lower blood pressure? All good things! Many garden centres are delivering plants to homes now (because of lockdown restrictions in light of COVID-19), so go ahead and find a sunny corner in your home and start building your indoor plant family. There are so many beautiful varieties available, and there truly is nothing more calming than watering your plants and seeing them grow.

Volunteer

Mahatma Gandhi said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others, so what better time than a new year to set some long-term volunteer commitments. Undoubtedly, 2021 will be a year where we all need to work together to help build back our communities after the losses suffered during the global pandemic, and volunteering can help so many people and businesses in need. Many people say that volunteering has changed them in ways they never expected: they are happier, more fulfilled, and feel a strong sense of accomplishment. To find local volunteer opportunities, visit Ontario.ca.

A woman meditates

Consider a Meditation Practise

The popularity of meditation has grown exponentially this past year, and with very good reason. The pandemic has brought us all considerable challenges, both physically and emotionally, and many of us are struggling to maintain our sense of psychological health. Meditation is a habitual practise that trains your mind to focus and your thoughts on the present, and it has been proven to offer several health benefits. From reducing stress to minimizing anxiety, a daily meditation practise can bring balance back to your life, and with many digital offerings (from Headspace to Calm) you can find a practise that suits your schedule and preference.

Take more walks

Has anyone else discovered the simple beauty of going for a long walk? If anything, 2020 taught me that being outdoors is paramount to my happiness and sense of well-being, and I have never walked so much before than the year just past. While it can sometimes be a challenge to commit to a fitness routine, it takes very little effort to throw on your shoes and walk out your door. This coming year, I plan commit to a long walk every day, rain or shine. Movement is medicine!

Give yourself a daily compliment

We are too hard on ourselves, that’s a fact. We tend to gravitate towards more self-criticisms than praise, but this year let’s all try a different tact. Each morning, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a compliment. Whatever you love about yourself, or are proud of, say it out loud! Each day. Positive self-talk can greatly help you focus on what’s good in your life, and those affirmations go a long way to keeping you grounded and grateful.

Add fragrance to your home

A friend shared this suggestion with me, and I love it. Because smell is so often associated with parts of our brains that process emotions and store memories, different aromas can affect our mood. Vanilla scents can help people feel more relaxed and joyful, whereas lavender can decrease stress. Find a scent you love and use an atomizer to fill your home with its fragrance.

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