Apparently 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, getting organized, and spending less money are the top three, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
These — and others, like falling in love, staying fit, and spending more time with family — are great. But they are huge goals that require a lot of work and willpower. I’m not against that. But I feel like we are all working really hard as it is, so I would like to offer a resolution that is really simple but one that can make your life more awesome:
Add more joy.
Instead of saying you want to lose weight, eat more foods that bring you joy. French fries may taste great, but you feel guilty afterwards and that’s the opposite of joy. What food makes you feel awesome when and after you eat it? My bet is it’s something healthy, so add more of it.
Get rid of stuff that doesn’t bring you joy. There’s a fascinating Japanese decluttering method based on a really simple principle of asking if an item brings you joy. If not, get rid of it; you can donate it and perhaps it can find an owner who will find joy in it.
Pause to enjoy something really small every day. Savor the coffee you’re drinking and don’t multi-task by checking your email or cleaning up in your kitchen. Listen to a song you like. Go for a short walk. Research shows that savoring and appreciating small daily experiences has a greater impact on how happy you feel than big things like going on vacation or getting a promotion.
Make one person smile. Yes, you’ve heard this before, but what if you actually commit to doing this once a day? Say thank you and mean it. Text a friend and tell them why you appreciate them. Tell a joke to make someone laugh. It doesn’t take a lot, and research shows it’s one of the simplest ways to feel happier yourself.
We’re all really busy, hurrying through our lives and to-dos and obligations. Instead of adding big projects like losing weight or getting organized to your already long to-do list, how about being kinder to yourself in this coming year and focusing on feeling a bit more joy.
If you do, I think you’ll find that the benefits are pretty significant and may including losing weight, getting organized, or accomplishing many more of your other big goals.
Nataly Kogan is the co-founder and CEO of Happier, a digital wellness company that combines bite-sized courses with digital tools and a community to help people learn and practice simple ways to be happier daily.