As 2014 comes to a close, people across the world are getting ready to make the most of their fresh new year. If you’d like to wipe your slate clean and start making the most of your life in 2015, no one but you can stand in your way. Instead of making a half-hearted New Year’s resolution that you’ll forget before Valentine’s Day, it’s time to stop and take a step toward the life you want to live.
1. Find the good in every stranger
It’s all too easy to make assumptions about the people who bump into you on the sidewalk, cut you off in traffic, or hold up the line when you’re hurrying to leave a store. However, if you’re too quick to judge, negativity will begin to color your view of the whole world. Instead of living with anxiety and anger, make a commitment to embrace positive thoughts instead — even if you have to make them up.
Pretend that the loud woman on your train spends her free time rescuing puppies, instead of judging her solely by her phone etiquette. Imagine your grumpy neighbor as a teenager, falling in love for the first time, and picture that boy every time you encounter him outside.
2. Stop drinking alcohol
Some consider that in moderation, drinking alcohol can be a fun way to socialize with friends. However, most people eventually realize that their drinking habit is decreasing, rather than increasing, their quality of life. If you find yourself pouring a drink every time you get home from work, it might be time to reevaluate your choices and stop drinking. Next time you have the urge to open a beer or mix a cocktail, drink a glass of water instead. Your body and brain will thank you.
3. Trade your screen time for quality time
Modern society is slowly turning into a sea of screens. From toddlers with tablets to rows of glowing smartphones at live concerts, more and more people are ignoring the real world to stare at devices. This year, challenge yourself to break this new norm. Delete the useless apps that suck up all your free time, and embrace your own thoughts instead. If you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, strike up a conversation with a stranger instead of texting to avoid eye contact.
You don’t have to give up your screen time completely. However, if you allow yourself to be present as a human being instead of killing time online, you’ll enjoy a better, richer life as a result.
4. Stick to a weekly budget
Even if you’re not drowning debt or struggling to pay your bills, it can’t hurt to rethink your spending habits. Some people find it easier to resist unnecessary spending if they give themselves a cash allowance each week, rather than using a credit or debit card. If that’s too impractical, just draw up a weekly budget instead.
Decide in advance how much you need to spend on food, transportation, and other necessities, then earmark a very limited amount for miscellaneous purchases. Over time, all those skipped coffees and clipped coupons could add up to an unforgettable vacation.
5. Become a volunteer
Sometimes, helping others is the very best way to help yourself. If you want to refresh your perspective and learn how to appreciate every single moment, you should start by looking for local volunteer opportunities. Whether you walk dogs at an animal shelter or stock shelves at a food pantry, making yourself useful on a regular basis will eventually lead you to value yourself and your free time more than ever.
You have a bright shiny New Year to build your dreams upon — so do it! Consider how even the smallest thoughts and actions can get you closer to your goals of living a healthy and happy life and discard those old habits that keep you mired in the past. Pick a new small change today and build on that. Embrace the New Year’s possibilities and take this opportunity to rethink, reinvent and reallocate your thoughts, choices and actions.
Faith Moore is the Public Relations Coordinator at Saint Jude Retreats, an alternative to traditional drug and alcohol treatment centers and rehabs. Saint Jude Retreats provides a program for people with substance use problems that concentrates on self-directed positive and permanent change. Through the program, individuals with substance use problems are offered the opportunity to self-evaluate and explore avenues for life enhancement and happiness. Facebook: www.facebook.com/SaintJudeRetreats