A few years ago I stopped making resolutions and began focusing on getting more of whatever I need more of instead. One year, I needed more family time, so I focused on getting that. In other years, I needed to work on getting more sleep, and another, to work on my digestion. Practical stuff.
This year, it was harder to figure out what I needed, because, for starters after the unprecedented locked-down theme of 2020, my list of needs was fairly long.
Topping my list was a need for better, deeper sleep. I also needed to feel safe again. My hair was looking parched and in desperate need of a hairdresser (an essential worker, if you ask me). And as someone who loves giving and getting hugs, social distancing left me feeling deprived of that!
The point is that 2020 was a difficult year on many fronts and the only theme I could think of to sum up what I needed 2021 to be is more positive… without a lot of effort.
If you can relate, I invite you to also make a Positive Living challenge as your new year’s commitment. If your needs are like mine — all over the place — you may need to commit to doing a few things, not just one thing.
I suggest that you choose three things from this list to do all year to make 2021 more positive after the clusterfuck that was 2020.
1. Wear Fragrance Every Day
Wearing fragrance is a natural mood lifter and an easy way to live a more positive life this year. Studies show that wearing fragrances amplifies your happiness and makes you more attractive to other people (including potential partners). If you have a favorite scent, why not add a new formulation of it (a body wash, lotion, or mist) for a layered effect? Those of you who prefer natural scents can make your own using essential oils or check out a natural fragrance brand like IME Naturals.
2. Enjoy More Simple Pleasures
While the best things in life are not always free, there are a ton of things that are or are close enough. Think nestling under scented bed linen (love Meyer’s Fabric Softener for this!). Eating a decadent dessert that you drove 90 minutes for, enjoying more sunsets in the evenings and stargazing at night, taking a dip in the ocean, walking barefoot on the beach, driving with the windows down, laying on your bae’s chest, or enjoying a good book.
3. Get Outside More
Science has spoken: being in nature decreases stress, makes you happier and kinder. In fact, being outdoors is up there on the list of instant mood lifters. Because it boosts concentration and creativity, getting enough sunlight and enjoying nature will even improve your work life. But after being locked away for much of 2020, do I even need to coax you out of the house?
4. Eliminate A Headache From Your Life
After years of living with a pesky kitchen pantry door that wouldn’t close properly and that my landlord refused to fix, I paid $85 from my own pocket to have a professional fix it. Now, I no longer have to lift and wiggle the latch into place with both hands to get the door to shut and stay shut.
I can use a foot, my elbow, my hip, or any body part I have free to shut it, the way the home improvement gods intended. And I swear if eliminating that single everyday headache from my life didn’t make me feel less stressed.
For 2021, I say, wave goodbye to one of your mundane chores, fix a broken lock, or make tax time easier.
If April 15th and preparing your taxes has always been a stressful time for you, make this the year you give in and buy that Neat Receipt scanner, try a service like AutoEntry or an app that organizes your spending and makes tax time less taxing.
If not your taxes, look around for some other unnecessary headache in your life and make it less stressful.
5. Get 30 Minutes More Sleep
Did you know that we need more sleep during the winter and when we’re under stress? I sure didn’t. With my usual sleep routine, I had been feeling off during the day. I chalked it up to stress and everything but sleep until I learned that our sleep needs can change. Sure enough, when in December I had a few more hours of sleep, I felt more rested and less stressed during the day. 30 minutes more sleep per night is all most of us need to help us make 2021 a more positive year.
6. Upgrade Your Wardrobe
By spending no money at all, if you don’t want to, you can upgrade your wardrobe in 2021. Purge your closet of anything that is worn out and dingy. Bid farewell to clothes that you haven’t worn in years because they no longer fit and ditch anything that you don’t feel absolutely great in. This simple wardrobe upgrade will help you feel better about yourself — no retail therapy needed.
If you have a dingy tee or item of clothing that you love or that has sentimental value, consider taking a picture of yourself in it, or, hanging it up as art, or re-purposing it as DIY project.
7. Develop A Talent/Learn A Skill
If there is something you’re good at, guess what? Doing more of it is going to make you feel amazing, fulfilled, and positive. If you’re a good cook, writer, DJ, or illustrator when you do these things, you become more of yourself. We sculpt ourselves and define our existence on earth when we develop our talents. This year, invest in your growth by seeking to learn from those who have a skill or talent you want to develop. If you’re a talented cook, take a cooking class, throw monthly dinner parties, and in other ways, develop that skill and share it with the world.
8. Use Daily Affirmations
Affirmations help to quiet the roommate living inside our heads. That chatter when it’s mostly negative is obviously affecting your vibe. Check out A Year of Positive Thinking by Cyndie Spiegel for a perpetual calendar to help you start your days on a happier note. Two others I like are 365 Inspiring Women Quotes from the TF Paper Goods shop on Etsy, and Meditations on Self-Love by Laurasia Mattingly.
9. Get Yourself A Hammock!
The cool-house accessory of the moment has got to be a hammock. I’ve seen them replace couches, used for tasks from working on a laptop to relaxing. They totally change the energy in your space and will definitely bring more positivity into your home and into your life.
It’s not just our self-talk but also what we focus on that has gotten more and more negative. Meditation has been shown to produce more positive self-talk, less worrying about the past and future, and greater emotional strength. Because although some worrying and rumination can be helpful, most of the time, we’re replaying the say worries, telling ourselves the same tales, and doing nothing about what we think about. Meditation will help you to flip the script and create another important shift in your life this year—help you to focus more on what is good and truly important.
11. Start therapy
You’ve been “dealing” on your own, holding it together with a smile and positive thoughts, but could you benefit from having someone to talk about stuff with? This year, find a support group, a therapist, or other ways to help you express your needs. Don’t worry if your therapist is not the best there is, just being able to let out your frustrations or voice a thought you’ve been mulling over, will be better for your emotional health. Because it will help you emotionally, you’re going to feel more positive after a year of unburdening.
12. Get a Plant for Your Desk or Workspace
I mentioned above that being in nature helps us concentrate and where else could you use help concentrating than at work? Studies show that tasks performed when we’re under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy. Scientific studies have shown that having plants in your workspace will bring a different, positive, kind of atmosphere to your work area.
13. Add Dance To Your Exercise Routine
I haven’t watched “Dancing With The Stars” in years, but I would bet any amount of money that the celebrities still say something like “dance has opened up my life” when their time on the show is up. If you’ve been a yoga girl, try a dance class instead or in addition to it and make dance part of your exercise routine. Dance brings us joy, so this year, get those feet of yours tapping.
14. Go Somewhere Special/Memorable
Although we’re not sure when plane travel will be back to normal, I bet you can find memorable destinations within driving distance from you. I’m a big fan of doing something special once a year because these special events help to put our painful pasts in the rearview mirror. Find a local ski resort, an epic destination like The Grand Canyon, or somewhere memorable as your highlight for this year.
15. Commit to a Cause or Issue You Care About
Liking a post about social justice, climate change, violence against women, or body positivity is great, but you know what is even better? Making a deeper commitment to one of these issues, or learning more about how to get involved in your local government and community. Commit a whole year to Project X, and I swear, you’re going to feel like you lived a fuller life. You’re going to end 2021, feeling more connected.