Want to make a New Year’s resolution to live a happier life? Trying new hobbies, getting involved in your community, and keeping a gratitude journal are all simple ideas that can bring you more contentment and joy. Check out these 22 practical tips to help you cultivate happiness in the new year!

Try New Hobbies

Watercolor painting of hanging shelf with books, mugs, and plants | Photo by Instagram user @dewintonpaperco

Photo via @dewintonpaperco

Finding a new hobby is a good way to keep yourself busy and can offer new challenges and experiences—both personally and professionally! When life gets too hectic and overwhelming, your hobbies can help you relax and reduce stress. A hobby can be sparked by any interest you have like learning a new language, painting, dancing, cooking, or playing an instrument.

Pay It Forward

Female volunteer in blue tshirt packing a backpack with socks at Open Door Mission | Photo by Instagram user @opendoormission

Photo via @opendoormission

The act of helping others can help you cultivate happiness from within by giving you a sense of fulfillment and making you feel more connected with your community! Consider volunteering your time at charitable organizations like The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. Or pay it forward and do random acts of kindness for others like holding the door for someone, making cookies for healthcare workers, or paying for a stranger’s coffee order.

Meet New People

Connecting with people around you has a big impact on your mental and emotional well-being. If you’re seeking connection, consider attending networking events or joining groups like book clubs or neighborhood boards. This will help you get more involved with your community and engage in new social circles. Classes on topics like cooking, painting, and baking are all good places to meet new people and bond over a shared activity or experience!

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Express Gratitude

Gratitude journal saying "I am thankful that I get to" on desk with pencil, candle, and box of succulents | Photo bye Instagram user @mytrainerjill

Photo via @mytrainerjill

Appreciating what you have and taking the energy to express gratitude can help lead to a happier and more fulfilled life. Giving someone a sincere compliment or taking the time to write thank-you letters are two fantastic ways to appreciate your surroundings. For a more grounded gratitude practice, write about what you’re thankful for in gratitude journals or a gratitude jar. By physically writing out letters, notes, or journal entries, your brain is able to focus on the words more clearly and connect you with the writing.

Recite Positive Affirmations

Bathroom selfie of woman in white robe with positive affirmation "I am worthy of my dreams" written in pink lipstick on the glass | Photo by Instagram user @sashaexeter

Photo via @sashaexeter

Affirmations are positive phrases to deflect negativity and shift your mindset. Vocally reciting positive affirmations daily and focusing on the upside of life can help make you happier in the long term. Examples of positive affirmations can include “I am confident” or “I always see the best in others.”

Develop Daily Routines

Open book with firefly bookmark on black and white rose comforter next to white mug full of coffee | Photo by Instagram user @jana.reads

Photo via @jana.reads

Developing a routine can improve your mental health, lower stress levels, and even lead to better physical health by giving you more time for proper eating and exercise. Daily routines also promote healthy habits and can reduce burnout from your job or school. Sticking to a morning and nighttime routine like waking up early, stopping work at the same time every day, and going to bed early are simple ways to increase happiness. Plus, a daily skincare routine can help slow down the signs of aging and boost your confidence.

Meditate to Practice Mindfulness

Woman in beige ribbed sleeveless turtleneck top and white ribbed sweatpants meditating in living room | Photo by Instragram user @rebeckahprice

Photo via @rebeckahprice

The benefits of meditation include bringing you a sense of peace and balance, giving you the ability to slow down racing thoughts, and improving your overall health and emotional well-being. Practicing mindfulness with meditation exercises and soothing music is an excellent way to start your day and reduce stress. You can also find guided meditation exercises online or use meditation apps to help alleviate anxiety throughout the day.

Invest in Your Relationships

Having strong, healthy relationships is one of the biggest factors for living a happy life. Learn your love language and the love languages of your family members and friends so you can grow in your relationships and ensure that the people who matter most to you feel loved and appreciated. Celebrate each other’s achievements and offer support during hardship. Spend time with the people you care about by going on a coffee or dinner date, or keep in touch by regularly communicating through letters, phone calls, and video chats.

Declutter Your Space

Interior shot of living room with white accent chair next to gray cement mantle and fireplace below flatscreen tv | Photo by Instagram user @studio8designinc

Photo via @studio8designinc

Declutter your home by getting rid of material items like clothes or shoes you don’t wear, or kitchen utensils and dishes you use once a year. Consider using decluttering methods like the Reverse Hanger Trick, or ones used with intention like the KonMari Method. Along with decluttering, it’s beneficial to keep your home organized by using storage bins or baskets to conceal your clothes, home decor, or other belongings. If you find that you thrive in a meaningful and tidy environment, look into embracing a minimalistic lifestyle.

Develop a Cleaning Routine

Black chalkboard accent wall next to kitchen entry with hanging acrylic calendar, cooking utensils, plant, leather pouch for envelopes and mail, and roll of brown paper for notes | Photo by Instragram user @sunnycirclestudio

Photo via @sunnycirclestudio

Establishing a regular cleaning routine by making a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning checklist will help you keep your living environment tidy and comfortable throughout the year. Regular cleaning increases your physical activity in the form of dusting, vacuuming, or mopping your floors. Plus, cleaning can be a form of self-care, since completing tasks provides feelings of accomplishment and being in a tidy environment decreases stress caused by clutter.

Get Some Exercise

Woman wearing a flannel shirt, cap, and yellow hiking backpack with hiking poles walking the Four Pass Loop in Colorado on a foggy day | Photo by Instagram user @theearnestvoyager

Photo via @theearnestvoyager

Regular exercise can reduce anxiety and elevate your mood. In fact, exercising for at least 20 minutes a day can provide mood-boosting effects that last up to 12 hours. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy doing, like yoga, strength training, kickboxing, swimming, or jogging. Choosing an activity that you truly enjoy will help you commit to building a consistent exercise habit. If you have a flex space or spare room, you may want to consider creating a home gym so you have an easily accessible space dedicated to maintaining physical health.

Treat Yourself to a Spa Day

Woman closing her eyes wearing all white in a grass straw spa room holding a white mug and wearing white linen long-sleeve, shorts, and a green eye mask | Photo by Instagram user @noelleaustralia

Photo via @noelleaustralia

Looking for more ways to pamper yourself in your self-care routine? Try having a spa day! This can be as simple as treating yourself to a manicure or pedicure, taking a bath with Epsom salt, or applying a clay mask to soothe your skin. You can opt for an inexpensive and relaxing spa day at home, or indulge by getting booking a hot stone massage or mud wrap.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Establishing boundaries can help you create balance in your life, and healthy boundaries in relationships can help minimize conflict and establish good communication. Examples of healthy boundaries include taking mental health days, silencing your phone in the evenings, getting good sleep, and allowing yourself to say “no” to things so you don’t get overwhelmed. Prioritize your alone time, too, and focus on yourself by enjoying a movie or relaxing at the park.

Incorporate Nature into Your Home

Interior shot of bohemian living room with white couch, white rug, orange accent pillows, and many houseplants | Photo by Instagram user @shannieee

Photo via @shannieee

Plants can make you feel better, reduce stress, elevate your mood, and improve air quality. Try gardening by planting flowers or vegetables outdoors to create a beautiful green oasis outside your home, or bring plants into your home with houseplants like peace lilies, areca palms, Boston ferns, and more. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider adding faux greenery and styling rooms with distressed elements like wood, stone, or natural textures to give your home a more green and modern design. Or add a sound machine in your office or bedroom to mimic nature sounds like wind, flowing water, or chirping birds.

Get More Sun

Blonde woman with outstretched arms in black tshirt and red biker shorts kneeling on paddleboard on the water surrounded by greenery | Photo by Instragram user @_jem_outdoors

Photo via @_jem_outdoors

Spending more time outdoors is critical for improving happiness! Soaking up the sunshine can not only provide you with a mood boost, but there are physical health benefits, too, like building stronger bones. Sitting outside and taking a walk are simple ways to safely get your fill of vitamin D. You can also explore a local park, go camping, take a swim, ride your bike, or embark on a hike to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Disconnect from the Virtual World

Two people with their back turned to the camera as they admire the Sierra Mountains and freshwater spring in the background | Photo by Instagram user @natureunplugged

Photo via @natureunplugged

Reducing online distractions like TVs, phones, and laptops can give you more time to be present for real-life interactions and give you space to focus on things you’ve been neglecting. Unplugging from the virtual world with a digital detox can provide benefits like an improved sense of well-being, more energy, better sleep, and more.

Keep a Schedule

Mom holding baby while reaching for marker to write on clear acrylic calendar hung on the wall | Photo by Instagram user @elise_meader

Photo via @elise_meader

Keeping a schedule can help you become more organized and plan out your day more efficiently. You can use tools like apps, calendars, planners, and daily to-do lists to help you accomplish your tasks. Set your intentions and create SMART goals to be proactive about problems and achieve your objectives. Plus, sticking to plans and appointments can help bring you more success in your personal and professional life.

Expand Your Knowledge

Woman wearing black leather jacket, sunglasses, and airpods while walking down the street listening to a podcast | Photo by Instagram user @gadgetflow

Photo via @gadgetflow

Gaining new skills can help you advance in both your personal and professional life. Learn something new and grow your skillset by taking training courses or listening to educational podcasts. Consider taking or auditing a course at your local community college or nearby university. Or if you’re looking to improve your confidence and overall well-being, take a personal development class or listen to a TED talk about personal growth.

Keep a Journal

Earth tone open journal | Photo by Instagram user @ yoon.jrnl

Photo via @yoon.jrnl

Journaling is often recommended by mental health professionals as way to help process emotions and organize thoughts. The benefits of journaling also include tracking personal growth, improving your memory, gaining confidence, and developing your communication skills. There are many different ways to journal, ranging from keeping a traditional diary to bullet-journaling.

Go On a Retreat

Person walking through jungle on path during meditation retreat in Plum Village | Photo by Instagram user @vegan_kitty_cat

Photo via @vegan_kitty_cat

Taking a trip or retreat for the purpose of rest and rejuvenation is a great way to take a break from work and your daily routine to clear your mind. Popular destinations for people who enjoy nature include national parks and lakes in Nevada, Utah, Florida, and Wyoming. If you’re looking for more historical and cultural destinations, try visiting big cities like Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

Give Your Home a Refresh

Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, there are simple ways you can upgrade your home and refresh its energy. Pick out new paint colors, create an accent wall, polish wood flooring, clean your windows, or shampoo and condition your carpets. Adding color to your interior design and incorporating unique decor like wind chimes and bird houses can also add more personality to your space.

Practice Sustainability

Two people urban cycling in Colorado | Photo by Instagram user @peopleforbikes

Photo via @peopleforbikes

Simple ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle include composting and recycling, cutting down electricity use, using eco-friendly cleaning products, and investing in ethically sourced clothing. Consider adding energy-efficient improvements in places like your kitchen. You can also unplug appliances when not in use, install low-flow shower heads to conserve water, carpool or bike to work, and replace light bulbs with energy-efficient options.


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