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3 Powerful Resolutions People Never Make

Regardless if you love them or hate them, research has shown that a new calendar year can be a great time to initiate new changes. It can provide a clean slate to move forward and improve your life.
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January always brings conversations about resolutions and goals.

They're in the news and written about in blogs and magazines. How to make them, how to stick to them, and why they fail. It's practically a tradition.

Many of you might already be tired of hearing about it, but I promise you this is different.

This is about taking a look at the types of resolutions we make. What they are and why we need to broaden our focus.

Different Year, Same Resolutions

One of the big reasons people get tired of discussing resolutions is because most of it is a repeat. The year has changed, but the goals and resolutions are still the same.

Here's the list of the top 5 resolutions for 2016 from a Marist poll:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get better job
  3. Exercise more
  4. Stop smoking
  5. Improve health

And here's the list for 2015:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Exercise more
  3. Be a better person
  4. Improve health
  5. Stop smoking

As you can see the top resolutions didn't change much. There's only one difference between 2015 and 2016. The rest are all directly related to health.

Being healthy is important. I absolutely believe we should pursue healthy goals and activities. However, I can't help but think that these resolutions present a pretty narrow focus.

A new year can not only give us a fresh start, but also a fresh perspective. While improving our health is noble, are there other things we could be focusing on?

I believe that there are at least two areas that most people fail to think about.

Meaning and Happiness

Many of us pursue health resolutions because we know we should. These aren't the types of things that get us out of bed every day, though.

Two of the most powerful motivators in life are purpose and joy. So why is it that we rarely make resolutions centered around creating meaning in our lives and pursuing happiness?

Here are 3 resolutions most people don't make, but should highly consider. They are amazingly simple, and deceptively powerful. Also, incorporating them into your daily, weekly, or monthly routines is easy.

While they may not have direct health benefits like exercise, they can still affect your physical and mental health in big ways.

1. Be More Grateful

A lot of recent research has begun to show how powerful gratitude can be. Yet it's consistently under-rated and never breaks the top ten when it comes to resolutions.

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest acts to perform, and it can also take very little time. You can write down what you're thankful for when you wake up, tell a friend you appreciate them, or call up a family member and say how your life is better because they are in it.

Gratitude is associated with positive marital outcomes, reduced depression, increased friendship, and has also been linked to healthier hearts, better moods, and better sleep.

2. Perform More Acts of Kindness

There are many different ways that you can perform acts of kindness for strangers, friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues.

You can volunteer at an animal shelter, escort someone across the street, or donate your time to a charitable organization. You can get involved in your neighborhood or make cookies for a fundraiser. Or you can simply ask someone who is feeling blue how you can make their day better.

The number of things you can do is endless, and they don't have to involve a bunch of time or money. While this can brighten someone's peoples day, research tells us it can also be beneficial to the person performing the act.

One study in 2015 showed how being altruistic can help you find love. Other research has found that it can lower your social anxiety, and even help you cope with everyday stress.

3. Strengthen Your Relationships

What could be more important that strengthening the relationships with the people you care about. This doesn't just have to include just family and friends. It can also extend to making stronger connections with new acquaintances.

You could call your family more. Or schedule a weekly hangout with friends to watch TV or take a walk in the park. You can visit grandparents. You can inquire about a coworkers hopes and dreams. You can play with your kids more. Again, there's a pretty long list of how to accomplish this resolution.

Having strong social connections is wonderful for mental and physical health. One study has compared the health benefits of friendship as being as important as exercise and diet.

Social bonds have also been associated with a lower risk of depression, and can even help you recover from it. Even more important is the link research has found for its effect on happiness and life satisfaction.

Missed Opportunities

According to the Marist poll, only 39% of Americans are likely to make a resolution this year.

Regardless if you love them or hate them, research has shown that a new calendar year can be a great time to initiate new changes. It can provide a clean slate to move forward and improve your life.

So for 61% of Americans this year, there's a missed opportunity. Not only to create more meaning in your life, but to become a happier and healthier person.

(This article first appeared on

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