When a new year rolls around we all start to look at our lives and make big, sweeping declarations about the changes we’re going to make.
Now, I’m not convinced that we need to try and reinvent ourselves at the start of a new year. I think, instead of trying to radically change our lives, we should be looking at the little things we can do to gently change our outlook. To bring more joy and happiness to our lives, and to other people’s.
If this sounds like the sort of thing you want to get on board with, then here are my suggestions for 4 resolutions to make for a happier new year.
1. Make mindfulness a habit
Our lives are so busy these days, especially as parents, and it can feel like we spend our days rushing around trying to get everything done. We end up trying to multitask and feeling like we never do any one thing properly.
This year let’s try to do things a bit differently.
Take everything one thing at a time.
Let’s say you’re at home with your children and you have jobs to do around the house. Instead of trying to juggle the housework and entertaining the children, separate out the tasks.
When you’re with your children, make sure you’re really there with them. Get down on the floor and play with them. Then set them up with an activity while you get on with the jobs that need doing. Giving them your undivided attention for half an hour before you crack on with some housework is much better for everyone than spending two hours trying to juggle the two tasks together.
Be mindful of how you’re spending your time, and try to slow down a bit.
Notice the world around you more; stop and appreciate the changing seasons instead of rushing through the year. Taking a bit of time to practice mindfulness can do so much for you sense of happiness and wellbeing.
2. Move your body more
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, getting regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to boost your happiness.
Don’t get caught up in the new year hype about getting in shape though. If you jump in, join a gym and pledge to go every single day you’ll burn out really quickly.
Take the focus off losing weight and getting in shape, and shift it to how good it feels physically, mentally and emotionally when you move your body more.
Start off gently.
Go for a walk around the park on your lunch break. Or walk to the local shops instead of taking the car. Dig out your old exercise DVDs and do them at home a few times a week. Look on YouTube for some free classes you can follow along with.
Take your time and keep focused on all the benefits of regularly moving your body more. You’ll feel happier, calmer, and more able to cope with the little stresses in life.
3. Let yourself feel things other than happiness
Sometimes, when our goal is to be happier, we try and shut out all the other emotions. We feel like we’re failing if we feel stressed, or anxious, or sad.
So give yourself permission this year to feel all your feelings.
If you’re sad then cry. Wallow in it for a bit. Get a journal and write down everything that is making you feel sad, no matter how silly it might seem. Really feel it, get it out of your system, and then you can pick yourself up and move on.
The key is to feel it, acknowledge it, express it if you need to but then let it go. Don’t let a negative emotional experience in the morning set the tone for your whole day. If someone cuts you up in traffic on the school run, then have a moan about it, and then let it go. Choose to move on from it instead of letting it put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
4. Be thankful
If you only do one thing differently this year then make it this.
Develop a practice of thankfulness.
At the end of each day write down 3-5 things that you’re thankful for. You can do this in a notebook, or you can get a gratitude journal to fill in every day. If you want to be more public about it you can post your lists on Facebook or Instagram stories every day. I’m trying to build the habit of putting mine on my stories as much as possible, and I’m using #thisgloriousyear if you want to join me and use it too!
Studies have shown that spending just a few minutes a day thinking about what we have to be grateful for can help us feel happier, more optimistic, physically healthier and more likely to help other people.
How many of these things do you already do?
Which do you think will have the biggest impact on your happiness over the course of the year?