So far, I’ve tried to reserve judgment on the whole New Year/New Person thing because I don’t think I’m so far gone that I need to completely alter my entire existence (I’ll save that for my 30s, thank you). But still, whenever the holidays come around, I’m left with a renewed sense of purpose to discover and embrace exactly who I am, whoever that is. The crisp air promises new beginnings, and the hype surrounding New Year’s Eve is at best inspiring and encouraging, and at worst, inescapable. So while I can’t promise to go to the gym every day in 2014 or to cut out sweets for the new year, here are the kinds of life resolutions I think we should try to pursue every day, not just on January 1st:
1. Be kinder.
Not in the when-everyone-is-watching-I-can-put-on-a-smile-and-play-nice kind of way, but in the genuine, all-by-yourself, nice for the sake of being nice kind of way. Go out of your way to do something for someone else. Especially capitalize on those little moments during the day when you think to yourself, “Gee, I bet so-and-so would really like it if I did this tiny, minuscule thing for them.” Sometimes those are the ones that mean the most.
2. Learn something new every day.
Go to school, pick up an encyclopedia, follow a random-fact-of-the-day account on Twitter—all of these will leave you with a tidbit of information that you never knew you needed to know. (Some of them actually will never ever be useful except on maybe Jeopardy, but still it’s pretty cool to know random stuff). Think about all the trivia games that are slowly disappearing from the shelves because now everyone can just Google information on their phones, and learn something new every day if for no other reason than to save the Trivial Pursuit.
3. Make yourself important.
Just because a task may seem thankless doesn’t mean it’s not important. Just because you don’t immediately receive recognition for what you do doesn’t mean that you should quit. Work hard at whatever it is you do so that you can be proud of yourself. Give yourself pep talks, be your own cheerleader, and contribute as best you can to the final product. Let the pride you feel knowing how crucial you are be your favorite reward.
4. Let things go.
There are plenty of things in this world that warrant a serious outlook, but there are almost three times as many things that are just not worth the frown. I can promise you that the guy who cut you off the way to work really doesn’t care if your entire day is wrecked. And that coffee stain on your new white blouse was, believe it or not, not a personal strike against your existence. Just take a deep breath, swallow your pride, and forgive the random mishaps the universe throws your way.
5. Find joy in the little things.
Be goofy and a little childish even after the magic of the snow and twinkly lights wanes. Your favorite childhood holiday movie is on? Watch it. You want some hot chocolate with marshmallow (or rather, some hot chocolate to go with your marshmallows, if you know what I’m saying)? Go for it. Dance around the house while you do chores, serenade both the shower head and the steering wheel, and get excited over opening a new pack of pens or when you get the coveted parking spot closest to the store. Celebrate the kind of moments that are only special if you make them special, and make them special often.