This year, I’m a bit late on the New Year’s resolutions.  I’m usually not one to make them, as a lot of the ones I make seem unattainable, or I eventually forget about them when the responsibilities of my everyday life catch up with me.  However, as I take time to reflect on the past year, I realize there are some ways I need to improve myself as a person outside of improving physical fitness or drinking more water (not that these aren’t important).  One of the goals I have set for myself is focusing on community.


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Regardless of everyone’s individual experiences in 2016, most people would agree that fostering community should be a goal of 2017.  It's seemed increasingly easier to become self-absorbed, especially with certain advancements in technology and the popularity of social media.  Even with these aspects aside, it can be easy to become wrapped up in one’s own work and life in general.  For this reason, moving forward I've outlined some goals for myself to be more engaged with what's going on around me, both in the immediate and global communities.  I encourage others to do the same in whatever ways they may feel comfortable.  In order to improve where we stand as a world today, we must be in touch with one another and our inner selves.


Everyone’s experience is unique.  Each individual’s life has its own background and its own problems, whether those problems are unjustly imposed by society, branches stemming from a deeper story, or something new that came up that they are trying to work out.  Whatever it is, it's part of a greater fabric of life—more often than not, issues are more than what they seem on the surface.  It’s okay if you don’t know or understand everything about a person’s background, but listen to them and try to recognize what they need or don’t need in the given context.

Read up on current events

I’ll be the first to admit I don't read or listen to the news as much as I should.  I get it:  It’s difficult to take time away from our busy day-to-day lives to read up on what’s going on in the world.  However, I can’t stress how important it is that we start.  It’s impossible to form educated opinions on current events if we have not researched them through reliable sources.  In this day and age with climate change, political conflict, and many other events occurring, it’s vital for our earth’s future that we understand the current conditions, so we can figure out what differences we each can make as individuals.  They may be small, but if every individual strives to educate themselves and make a difference, the numbers will add up.


As we all know, life can easily overwhelm us.  To overcome life’s stresses, set a time every day to relax for a few minutes, and respect that time.  Be mindful of your body and breathing.  You can do this in nature or in the comfort of your own room, just make sure you take time to do it.  A good time to do this might be before you go to bed since doing work too closely to when you go to bed can cause your mind to race, and studies such as one recently conducted by Harvard Health have shown that looking at the blue light from screens an hour or less before bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep.  Replace working or looking at screens with time to simply breathe, and you may find yourself more relaxed and well-rested when you wake up.

Take time away from work

This can be harder for some than others.  Of course it’s important to work, but rest can be just as necessary to help you keep your mind fresh and relaxed.  In the digital age, even if you're not at work it’s easy to be drawn back there mentally with a simple glance at your smartphone.  If you can afford it, put down your phone for a few minutes.  Close your computer.  Even if it’s for a brief period, give your mind a chance to rest.


Regardless of your experiences in 2016, fostering community should be a goal for all in 2017.


Practice gratitude

Say thanksto people, to yourself, and to the universe.  Practicing gratitude for your blessings is not only a generally polite thing to do, but it can remind you of the positive things in your life and the love that surrounds you.  And I’m sure you and the people in your life would always appreciate the recognition.  

Give back and receive

Any time is a good time to volunteer, but now is as good a time as ever.  Think of what you’re most passionate about, and find a way to share it with those who need it most.  Remember to stay humble and that the experience of sharing with a community in need is a two-way street; when you give, you receive valuable experience and happiness from doing good deeds.  Always respect those on both ends of this interaction, and make sure that you provide what is needed and asked for as best you can.

Pay attention to the small things

It’s often the smaller things in life that make us smile each day.  Keep track of what those things are for you.  Use them to your advantage when you're stressed or if your day isn’t going the way you want it to.  Take fuzzy socks, for example: nobody will be able to tell that you are wearing them, but they provide you with a little extra warmth and comfort nonetheless.  


It's been suggested that smiling even if you don’t feel the need to can boost your mood (check out this article from Forbes).  It can also cheer up those around you.  So show off your pearly whites to make the world a better place!

Have a happy year, and remember it doesn’t have to be New Year’s to make a change.


Comments (1)

  1. Margot Ranger

Always good advice, no matter the time of year.


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