12 Life-Giving Resolutions to Consider

life-resolutions-to-consider

“Change brings opportunity.” - Nido Qubein

Each year, there are significant opportunities to evaluate our lives and look ahead to the future. The new year, birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays come to mind.

Each cause us to look back at the decisions that shaped our lives during the past year and give us opportunity to make adjustments for the next one… or as we call them, resolutions.

Some needed adjustments to our life habits are painfully obvious: we need to get in shape, we need to stop smoking, or we need to get our finances in order. Those life changes are typically easy to notice and are often promoted in our society.

But there are other, equally valuable life improvements available to us that fly a bit out of the mainstream. For various reasons, you don’t hear much about them. But in many cases, they are just as valuable. In fact, sometimes, they even help us address the underlying assumptions in our lives that are leading us to the poor decisions in the first place.

To that end, consider these 12 Life-Giving Resolutions as possible life habits to incorporate.

1. Intentionally laugh everyday. Laughter releases stress, lowers blood pressure, and exercises muscles. More importantly, it changes our outlook on life and brings us joy and hope. It ought to be practiced everyday. Put it on your To-Do List. And give yourself permission to laugh each day… especially during the hopeless days.

2. Practice solitude. Find time alone in quiet on a regular basis. No books, no music, no outside voices. Just you alone with yourself. Your life will never, ever be the same.

3. Make gratitude a discipline. Thank someone or something each day, every day. Gratitude refocuses our attention away from what we don’t have and redirects it towards what we do. As a result, it naturally causes contentment and generosity to spring up in our lives.

4. Stop speeding. You may need to plan in advance or choose to leave a bit earlier. After all, you will be spending more time en route. But slowing down intentionally allows extra opportunity to be with yourself, be present, and enjoy the journey. Life is not a race. Life is not meant to be lived hurriedly rushing from one event to another. It is meant to be enjoyed and savored. And driving slower will remind you of that fact every time.

5. Fast one day each month. There is a reason nearly every religious tradition incorporates the use of fasting (the practice of not eating food for a specific length of time – usually 24 hours or sunrise to sunset). It teaches us self-control, self-denial, and sacrifice. It trains our mind to weather storms and temptation. And it heightens our senses. As a side note: the purpose for practicing fasting may be for spiritual purposes, but it doesn’t have to be… your mind, body, and soul will benefit regardless.

6. Adopt a “Do it Now” mentality. The opposite of procrastination is to simply “do it now” instead. And seeing as how procrastination results in an unnecessary amount of stress in our lives, “doing it now” is an appropriate life habit for many of us to resolve. Make that a new mindset for your life. Repeat the mantra often. And then, just do it now – whatever “it” may be.

7. Eat more vegetables. Eating more vegetables is a better, simpler, and often times more measurable approach to your weight loss goal than simply deciding to eat less. Eating vegetables at each meal (or as snacks in-between them) naturally reduces the amount of unhealthy food that we put into our bodies. Additionally, it gives us more energy, more self-esteem, and more opportunity to fight off illness and disease.

8. Read classical books from different centuries. Books that have lasted centuries tend to do so for a very good reason: they contain wisdom. They speak to timeless human truths that bind us together. Though our culture and world look entirely different today than they did 200 years ago, the human spirit is still the same. Life still includes sorrow, joy, hope, and trial. And we would benefit greatly from rediscovering how men and women approached life hundreds of years ago.

9. Remove pornography. Pornography limits our capacity to appreciate the real world and the people within it. It clouds our mind with unrealistic and unhealthy assumptions about sexuality and our relationships with others. Because of that, it never fully satisfies its consumer, but always leaves them desiring more. Sacrifice the temporal pleasure of pornography for a life that can better appreciate the simply joys of the people and relationships around you right now.

10. Go to bed earlier. Changing just the first hour of your day changes the remaining 23. And the best way to change the first hour of your day is to get a good night’s sleep. So make a practice this year to move your bedtime up. You may just be surprised at how that small change will naturally benefit other areas of your life.

11. Give to a charity. Pick a cause that you believe in strongly: poverty, education, animals, research, or the environment (just to name a few). And then, write a check. You’ll be glad you did. They’ll be glad you did. The cause they serve will be glad you did. And if you can spread that much joy by filling out a check, just imagine the joy you’ll spread if you volunteer your time and talents.

12. Date your spouse. Take your spouse/partner on a date at least once per month. You’ll have fun. You’ll reconnect. Your union will be stronger because of it. And if you think it’ll cost a bunch of money, you’re just not being creative enough.

Make no mistake. While I have intentionally tried to develop each of these habits in my life at some point in the past, I don’t intentionally practice each of them today (some still come more naturally than others). And my desire is not that these resolutions would be considered a 12-step secret to solving life.

Instead, my desire is that we would simply consider implementing one of them today… and find a better life because of it.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. Sven Eisold says

    All of them are good except the pornography one. What is wrong with pornography? It does nothing you claimed. Are you a right winger?

    Pornography can expand your mind as well as your partners. I think you should keep your own crazy biases out of otherwise sound information.

    • says

      Sven,

      As someone in a pornography-affected marriage, I can honestly attest that the pornography can result in such scenarios. It was a problem in my marriage and is an issue with the vast majority of women I know. I think Joshua’s view has nothing to do with being prude, but with honestly looking at how such items can affect us on a deeper level. Granted, it will not affect everyone in the same way, but generally speaking, it rarely does much to enhance a real relationship.

    • Alyssa says

      I concur. Pornography is a very personal thing. It can affect some people poorly an hurt marriages, as the above poster said, or it can enhance relationships. I’m not sure what kind of agenda comes with mentioning that on an otherwise great list. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see something so personal to each individual mentioned in a list designed to fit everyone.

      • Jim Reed says

        Alyssa, you couldn’t be more wrong, porn destroys everyone who becomes involved in it. If you break it down porn is nothing but lusting for a sexual relationship with someone you don’t even know. It creates a perverted view of what sex is all about. It allows the person to have an imaginary sexual relationship with an picture for a few minutes, no love. And as you sink deeper into porn, you need more and more stimulus to create a thrill, it’s like drug addiction. It leads to all sorts of perversion and makes you incapable to have a true loving relationship with another human being. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who is trying to escape porn addiction.

    • says

      Sven,

      We can certainly disagree on this topic. I do realize that I’m in a minority on this issue. But in my experience, I’ve seen enough marriages/relationships ruined by unrealistic expectations (attributed to pornography and/or romance novels) that I think it’s a resolution worthy of consideration – one that is not usually mentioned.

      Joshua

      • says

        Joshua –

        I love that you included romance novels in the same category as pornography! As someone who once read A.LOT of romance novels I can well attest to their power to distort your unconscious expectations in a relationship negatively.

        • emma says

          I wonder if that’s why I always disliked those stupid books. quite like the idiocy of porn. to each!

      • says

        One of my new years resolutions was to give up porn, written or images, even before I read this post. I think the problems with it are legion, and no, I’m not a prude or any such thing. Sex is a healthy form of bonding when practiced between two consenting parties, and is undervalued when simply seen as reproduction, as well as simply recreation. I think the proliferation of romance novels and porn speak to an overarching loneliness and sense of disconnection we are feeling as a species. It has been there for the entire history of the human species, but I think it is exacerbated by technology. We are looking for intimacy and love, but, though porn may offer sexual release, neither will EVER be a substitute for the actual act, being held/holding a loved one, or a simple face to face conversation.

      • Benjamin Krawec says

        At the very least it is a huge waste of time that ultimately does nothing positive for you and can lead to addiction.

        • says

          hey completely agree. pornography or graphic visual depiction of sexual action is not only a waste of time but anti nature. Man is essentially an animal. Difference is we are perennially sexual in nature. but to reform sexuality from a procreational movement to recreational movement in itself is degenerating to the organism, wasteful with no valued existential purpose. its a bottom less pit. a dead end. unless you follow william blake’s philosophy: the path of excesses leads to the tower of wisdom!

      • Katy says

        I think that it would be more appropriate to talk about removing false depictions of sexuality and love from everyday life – from the Disney princesses and romantic comedies to the most explicit pornography. This also accounts for the fact that, like junk food or junk television, occasional consumption of these things is not inherently unhealthy if taken in moderation and the understanding that they are fictional, and not a reflection of reality.

        I say this as a younger woman who despises romance novels/rom-coms and watches a short pornographic video about once a month on average, and has never had issues regarding pornography but *has* been influenced by a lifetime of “boy rescues damsel in distress” movie storylines.

        What society lacks is a healthy understanding of love, relationships and sexuality.

      • Audrey says

        Pornography ruined my first marriage. The man I’m married to now stays away from it because it ruined his first marriage too. I think too many men like to justify doing it. I think it’s only healthy for people to stay away. I’m glad it’s on the list.

    • mylady says

      Buying and watching porn supports an industry that no one would like for their daughter or son to be associated with. Giving it up is for the greater good, even if it doesn’t negatively affect YOUR family. It’s the same reason why I’m against drugs. Some people argue that it can have positive results, more peace, healing properties, etc; however, it supports an industry that no one would like for their child to be involved in, yet someone’s kid is. It’s the same reason we should try to avoid all things made in China. It’s for the greater good. Buying things in China would help MY family most, but it doesn’t help the people that suffer to make it or the people that are underpaid to sell it. It’s not a part of a quality life.

      Happiness is not directly seeking your own satisfaction (the Paradox of Hedonism), but it’s caring about others. You can minimize and do everything for yourself, but you will find that at the end it is just pointless. You can’t achieve happiness by only thinking about you and yours. At the root of every problem in the world is selfishness, so if you are not against it, you are part of the world’s problems in some way. You may think living without the things I mentioned would be contrary to your happiness, your well-being, your satisfaction, but in the end, you will see that the lifestyle against selfishness has the most purpose and the most joy.

      • Michele says

        Beautifully said mylady! Conscious consuming – thinking about the impacts in the supply chain, is definitely the way to make the world a better place – for EVERYONE. I love your idea of thinking “would I want that for my own child?” Perfect!!!

    • sunny says

      If you don’t like someone’s advice, don’t follow it. He has a right to write his opinion on his own blog.

  2. J says

    Hey, thanks for post. Coincidentally, about 6 months ago I experimented with reading mostly “older” books; for every 4 books I read 3 of them have to be 50 years or older. It has worked out really well, I’ve discovered some pretty great books that way (I was motivated to do this after reading Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epicurus; I realized what I was missing!).

    Could I aks you to elaborate more on #2 (solitude). I spend 1-2 hours every day in what I consider solitude, but it’s mostly me and a book. Are you referring to meditation?

    • Amanda says

      I think solitude means just sitting and actually taking a look at the things around you without the influence of other people, moods or music. Like listening to the wind or watching clouds scud by or watching children play in the park. Or maybe its just you in your room with your thoughts. It helps us notice and appreciate the simplest things.

    • says

      I wouldn’t make the case that meditation and solitude are synonymous, but they are closely related. When I speak of solitude, I speak of finding opportunity to listen to the inner voices in our lives and the motivations in our heart.

    • says

      Sure Courtney. I’ll elaborate on the practice sometime in the future with a post. It’s probably a bit long for a comment reply anyway. For me, it’s a spiritual practice – though I believe there is benefit in it regardless of spiritual persuasion.

      • Marissa M says

        Joshua,

        Have you written on fasting since this comment?
        If so, I’d love to read it.

        Thanks for all of your very inspirational posts :)

  3. says

    great list! I wanted to second your reply comment above about romance novels also being a problem. I think lots of times expectations are seen as a man thing, but the ‘porn’ can go both ways and can affect either way. Comes down to ‘joy comes from loving the life your in’.

    I am with Courtney in wanting to hear more about the fasting. I have read lots about the health benefits and have tried juice fasting…. but it is sure hard.

  4. Nicole says

    This post will easily become one of your top posts of 2012 :-) You’ve hit the ground running Joshua! I’ve bookmarked this as I bookmarked your list of minimalist quotes through the centuries. I’m tackling going to be an hour earlier at the moment – all the other points are great reminders and/or food for thought which I look forward to revisiting. Playing scrabble today with my 8 year old ticked the laughter box as she somehow amassed a score of 364 to my teeny 126. There may have been some cheating going on!

  5. says

    I was going to do what I usually do and mention the two or three numbered points that I most agree with or relate to, but they’re all good on this list. If pressed, I guess it’s 1, 2, 3 and 12 that make the most difference in my life. I don’t really do 5 or 8.

    As usual, a great job.

    Gip

  6. says

    I like the idea of fasting, though I prefer not to use food as the item to fast with. I like to use items like my cell phone, or experiences like air conditioning and eating out. This helps me to focus on realizing that I can live without the material things in life. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t go through an unhealthy binge after they’ve had a food-fast and that makes it not the best choice for me. But if it works for others that’s great!

    • Cheryl says

      Yes, this is a very good idea, Joanna. I was just thinking that my husband and I should practice not getting on our computer, say on Sundays, for starters. He is always working on business, and I love to sit and read every morning – both good things, but not balanced in our lives. This morning I’m thinking, what were days like before computers?

  7. says

    These suggestions are very excellent. I have personally begun reading the classics this year as I have begfun homeschooling my 9th grader. We are studying ancient history and literature this school year and have read the Odyssey, C.S. Leis’ Til we Have Faces, Herdoditous’ Histories, some of Plutarch’s Lives, the Code of Hammurabi, the Epic of Gilgamesh, The Orestia Trilogy, and the Lost World, among others. I have probably enjoyed it more than she has because I am now able to see so many things in later history and in the present day that have come down to us from these important writers.

  8. Sarah says

    Although I love the rest of the list, I too feel I must speak up on the pornography issue. As a girl who struggled with self esteem and self image for years, one might expect that I would be anti-porn, but its just the opposite. Every time I see an image of an air-brushed or injected beauty, I remember that she puts her bra on one arm at a time, just like I do. I don’t feel threatened by anyone’s interest in pornography unless it involves harming or hurting people against their will – in which case the person interested in such materials has bigger problems!

  9. says

    Fantastic list! Although they’re all great ideas to embrace… the one that caught my eye was #12 – Date your spouse. This past Christmas I gave my husband a “Year of Dates”. A box full of envelopes with preplanned (and funded) dates for us to take, once a month. He was absolutely floored by the sentiment and creativity!

  10. theG says

    Thank you for including porn on the list. Today’s porn is very woman hating and completely poisons the mind of many male users. What we need more of is empathy and connection with other humans, not exploitation and degradation of others.

  11. says

    Wonderful lists. Have begun reading kids classics with the family, so I love that you mentioned this. I totally and completely Agee with all if this, especially the porn. I have witnessed marriages crumble in result of porn.

  12. says

    I love this list! I’ve started following you on Bloglovin, because this blog seems to be right up my alley. I’ve longed for a minimalistic lifestyle for months now, and have started making some changes. Your blog is perfect as inspiration source.
    Love, Aina in Norway

  13. says

    I agree with you about most of your list. I would add one thing, that is to walk somewhere every day. Walking helps connect us to our environment, it is healthy, is earth friendly and can be fun.
    Removing porn is a good idea but a better idea might be to examine our use of the internet and evaluate if that use is replacing real interactions in our lives. For many the net is the primary way of interacting with others outside of work and it is very harmful in many ways. Sex is just one of those ways.

  14. Kathleen says

    Great post, as always. Wishing you and your family a wonderful and blesses New Year full if love and peace. Thank you for all you write.

  15. says

    Hi Joshua, I have been reading your blog for ages now and really love it!!! I have just started a blog of my own (it leans towards cruelty-free living) and would love to repost some of your articles and link them back here, if that’s OK with you.

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