57 Life-Changing Resolutions to Revolutionize Your Heart, Mind + Soul in 2012
The New Year reminds us that we always have the opportunity to commit ourselves to something wonderful and to rededicate ourselves to a truer, fuller, more vibrant sense of who we are and what we wish to do in this life.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.”
As far as we are concerned, every morning is the New Year.
In 2012, let us greet each sunrise as a fresh, new, and profound opportunity.
Today, I’ve written a fun list of 81 different kinds of “resolutions” that will help us revolutionize our hearts, minds and souls in 2012 — but, really, they really are not those stereotypical New Year Resolutions. As for you, I’d warmly encourage you to make a series of resolutions for yourself for 2012 that are more descriptive and full of adjectives and adverbs:
What do you want 2012 to feel like?
What will each morning be fueled by (purpose, passion, helping, etc.)? And what will each end-of-the-day be relished in (gratitude, satisfaction, warmth, fulfillment, etc.)?
Well, let’s dive in shall we? 2012 is here. I hope you’re as excited as I am. Rock on!
How to Revolutionize Your Heart, Mind + Soul in 2012
1. Stay playful. Remind yourself to be childlike. Think, less childish and more full of wonder — fun, daring, enjoyable to be around. And, remember to laugh at yourself, your problems, and even your worries, often.
How I’ll do it in 2012: See photo. Also, I’m starting a new blog for comedic writing called
EggSandwichesForWorldPeace.com (oops, it’s BreakfastSandwichesForWorldPeace.com — world peace will include vegans! ;) I hope just reading that URL puts a smile on your face as it does mine.
2. Leave a 30% tip, every time. And, once every week or two, tip 100% — for someone whom you’ll probably never see again. A fraction of a percentage can mean the world to a hardworking server or bartender — please don’t use tipping to hold a server/bartender hostage (even the rude ones). You’re better than that, and you can afford it. Trust me.
3. Unlearn something that you think you “know.” Forget what really doesn’t matter. Stop striving to know it all, and instead, strive to simply understand. Knowing is ego. Understanding is compassion, love, forgiveness, flexibility. Knowing is rigid, hardened, and stagnating.
How I’ll do it in 2012: I’ll have a big expose style piece on this very subject. The difference between “knowing” and understanding is subtle, but important.
4. Take one picture every day; relish the natural beauty of this inimitable moment.
How I’ll do it in 2012: By diving in! Follow me on Instagr.am.
5. Go for a walk where you’ve never been before. Discover a walking stick. Accept it as a gift from nature. Repeat daily, weekly, or however often you please. Make it a positive, invigorating routine.
6. Remember to look up. Breathe in the sky, and remember how small our problems are in comparison to the size of the universe.
7. Stop trying to plot giving; do it spontaneously, and often.
8. Help start a “good deed journal” for your child (or a younger cousin, sibling, etc.). They are never too young to start learning the power and reach of doing good deeds for others. I did this with my young god-daughter last year. It only lasted a few months (that’s my own fault :), but she actually maintained it!
9. Start a gratitude journal for yourself. List 5 pieces of gratitude first thing in the morning. List 5 more things you’re grateful for during the day-that-was before you go to bed.
How I’ll do it in 2012: I’ll start right now!
- the sunshine today and unseasonably warm weather all autumn and winter,
- a big, comfortable bed to sleep in (I’m still tired from New Year’s Eve, I think…),
- the endless opportunities we have from living in such a free country,
- wonderful friends, supportive family, readers like YOU, and just knowing so many ambitious world-changers who continually inspire me,
- what constant, unrelenting promise tomorrow always holds.
10. Teach gratitude, selflessness and charity (quietly). Make a monthly routine with a young person to buy and donate toys to charity, or food/clothing to a shelter. Don’t make it feel forced or like a punishment, but exciting and adventurous. Jazz up the reward by going out for lunch, a hot chocolate, or to some place the kid loves as a end-goal to look forward to.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Starting a new project called PlusTwo.Me in 2012 that will offer free stand-up cardboard cutouts to supermarkets to encourage shoppers to buy just 2 nonperishable items to donate every time they go grocery shopping.
11. Tell yourself every morning, “Today, I solely take responsibility for my happiness. Myself, alone, and no one else. I am in control of my happiness.” This is an important reminder, and as a positive affirmation you’ll feel more in control of your life. For more on learning control within, read, A Dominoes in the Sea.
12. Take a trip (alone or with a companion) to a place you’ve never been. Have few plans, and no goals. No goals! Improvise. Explore. Meet people, and allow the natural pace of what you encounter to dictate what the trip becomes.
13. Take a baby step, every single day, for 365 days. Lao Tsu said, “The journey of 10,000 miles begins with one step.” Put a dollar in a savings account to begin paying off that credit card debt. Write down one idea every evening for your brewing business plan. Work on one single paragraph on your book during your lunch break. Step. Step. Step. Remember: Small change endures. Fast change fizzles.
14. Be more rebellious. Break a rule every once in a while. Disobey what you’re ordered. Cultivate self-trust, inner reliance, and a bit of defiance. Coming from a place of love, these qualities are healthy, liberating and — I truly believe – help the human spirit to survive and thrive.
15. Watch how a child naturally acts. Learn something, like I did this year from a 3-year-old in a pink tutu. Embrace how they seem to understand so much, yet “know” so little.
16. Write a book. This year. No excuses.
17. Exercise your creative side every day, if only for 20 minutes. Your brain naturally craves creative expression. If it’s a doodle in pen or pencil, or an enormous oil painting, take time to be creative by creating something.
18. Love more. Love is not only romantic. Love is a way of living, carrying yourself, expressing yourself. Practice being love in your every footstep. It takes time, patience and practice, but it is worth it.
19. Ask the questions that call out to you — not for the sake of finding a definitive answer, but for understanding the “why” that sparks your passions within. Understand “the why” behind “the what” that you do.
20. Go 1-for-1 on your wardrobe. For every new garment you acquire, donate one to charity. The shit that is stacked 8 feet high in your closet is completely meaningless (you can admit it!), but it will mean the world to someone who desperately needs it.
21. Every time you food shop, buy 2 extra cans of nonperishable items and donate them to a food bank. Most supermarkets host collections year-round. Two cans is about two dollars, or less than a cup of coffee. You are so able to pull that off.
22. Complain less. Way less. Because you probably don’t even realize how much you complain (it happens to all of us, trust me!). Instead, catch yourself mid-thought or mid-complaint and just let it go. Even if you’re beyond annoyed. Let it go. The world (and your world — family, friends, etc) will be better for it.
23. Stand out in public, in your own unique way, once per week. Make a concerted effort. This is a simple but ridiculously powerful way to overcome social anxiety, and even to cultivate inner heroism — as my friend Matt Langdon so expertly articulated at TEDxFlint.
24. Do less better. In other words, instead of just trying to do more and more — and, in all likelihood, all to a poorer quality — focus your attention and intent like a laser. Quality over quantity, always. (hat tip @ryantinker)
25. Live with no goals. This doesn’t mean living aimlessly or as a derelict: living without goals means living unrestricted by confining pursuits and expectations. Ma’ home girl Danielle LaPorte masterfully articulated how expectations burden you, rather than help you manifest your dreams. So has Joshua Millburn and Leo Babauta.
26. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. You’re made better by the company you keep. (hat tip @cordeliacallsit)
How I’ll do it in 2012: Moving to New York City, baby!
27. Pick a new, favorite charity. Our attention spans are understandably short: we’re busy every day and consumed by one billion choices every single moment. Pick a new “pet” charity this year as if it was your own and make concerted efforts (a fundraiser, open-bar social event to raise money, host giveaways, etc.) to raise awareness and finances for it.
28. Less “I want” and more “I am.” Live intentionally, intent-fully, fully engaged in your devout intentions. Leave the wants behind. Unleash a confident touch and start speaking in “I am’s.”
29. Honor your body. Queue a new routine like yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or running — all of which I enjoyed exploring in 2011. I ran a 9K (5.6 miles) in May while raising over $1,000 for charity, dug into tai chi and qi gong during cold months in Boston, and lately have been diving deep into vinyasa flow yoga. Try it out! You’ll dig it, I’m sure.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Yoga 2-3 times per week throughout the cold months, until it’s great weather to start running again.
30. Explore a foreign philosophy, religion, or ideology — in depth and detail. Enrich your soul with a deep immersion into another human perspective. This year, I really enjoyed getting into Tibetan culture and Shambala Buddhism, which nicely complemented my yoga practice and writing.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Starting with some new books on my reading list including Rumi (13th-century Sufi mystic) and Hafiz (14th-century Persian poet)!
31. Pray — in your own way. There ought not be any structure, regiment, rules or regulations to prayer. Prayer is your own; own it as such. Prayer, to me, is a higher spiritual communication that honors our connection to spirit, God, the universe, and everything within it. Like a tuning fork, your prayers vibe on intentions, positivity, the genuine determination to do good and confident capacity to help others. Write it. Speak it. Sing it. Or close your eyes and breathe it.
32. Teach what you love to learn. It’s simple, really: the subjects and interests in your life that you desperately crave, immerse yourself within and love to learn are those that you are best equipped to teach others. Start a blog, write your heart out, sing, create and teach whatever it is that you can’t consume enough of.
33. Make a new habit. Change within is not very different than external change: you can’t go to a gym today and start bench-pressing or squatting 200 lbs; you can’t simply flip a switch and suddenly become a perfectly content, peaceful and happy within. I started going to yoga 2 to 3 times per week for the last several months, and tracking progress is a real confidence builder. Plus, it’s fun :) Start a habit, stick with it, and build momentum toward your internal and external betterment.
34. Break an old habit. Habits are hard to break because the familiarity of routines is a quiet comfort, and they seem so easy and seamless to maintain.
35. Make a habit of breaking a habit. The best habit you can have is to be cognizant of your habits and routines, and to regularly break one. Long-ingrained, deeply entrenched, quiet and subtle patterns of habituated thinking cause suffering; and the simple art of “forgetting” might be the best, surest way to free yourself from this suffering. Mix up your schedule and day-to-day. Influence change into your life routinely so that you become familiar with it and won’t be swept away and crushed when life sends a change your way.
36. Take time to be alone with yourself. What does it feel like for you to spend time alone? Chances are you need some quality you time. And remember, “alone” isn’t one and the same as being “lonely” — for me personally, spending time alone is absolutely critical to my internal peace of mind, happiness, and best relationships with others.
37. Contemplate a quote every day. Indulge in the wisdom and philosophies of ancient thinkers. Be forewarned: quotes are easy to shout, and tougher to truly understand. Reflect upon them quietly, but feel invited to liberally share your most-meaningful favorites.
38. Write a quote every day. Take a few minutes to construct a small piece of “you” wisdom and share that on Facebook and Twitter, instead of a complaint or whine (we’re all guilty of that!). Just, don’t literally quote yourself, per se. :) - Dave Ursillo
39. Create something real. Build. Construct. Create. Furniture for the office, a water-color painting, a book. Create something real, tangible, constructable. It’s an empowering exercise: the more you build with your hands, the more confident you grow in building something within yourself that can be shared with the world.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Business, business, business. Creating a strong, healthy, small business enterprise for myself that flourishes by empowering others to flourish.
40. That leap of faith? Take it, already. There’ll never be a perfect time when the stars align justtttttt right. There are always reasons to wait, delay, or make excuses. Just. Stop. Waiting. Take the leap, already. You can do it. And, once you do jump, you’ll wonder what took you so long in the first place.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Moving to New York City? Making me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. But at the same time, I can’t wait to jump in!
41. Declare an intention — in public. Go for it! Yeah, it can be scary as hell, but it’s also super motivating and ironically liberating, and certainly a powerful way to keep you accountable to all the things you say you’ll do. Publicly declaring my intention to write my book this past year was a big motivator.
42. Write morning pages every day (hat tip @HeyElleCP). Morning pages is a new practice that I just learned about and might try in 2012: write three pages, long hand, of anything that comes to your head.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Already lagging behind with this one. But I’m starting today!
43. Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning. Try a fun iPhone app called Insight Timer that is customizable with chimes and gong sound effects — the coolest part is that you can see how many other people around the world are meditating with the app at the same time as you; it creates a very cool sense of togetherness and community.
How I’ll do it in 2012: Ohmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
44. Bury the hatchet. Forgiveness is liberating. Holding a grudge takes fight, effort, and requires you to hold onto old memories and feelings of angst, worry, fear, and anger. It’s simply easier to let go than to fight on. Bury the hatchet — even, and especially, if you think the other person was in the wrong.
45. Stop using the word “problem.” Instead, use “issue,” or even better than that, “challenge.” Simply using the word “challenge” influences our brains to create an association between the issue at hand and a certain solution. When we refer to a problem as a challenge, our minds engage in creative problem-solving and it’s easier to come to a definitive solution.
46. Move more. Walk further. Stretch deeper. Honor your body.
47. Switch to a standing desk (or make your own). Standing at your computer sounds like a bizarre idea, but I began my standing desk routine last summer and haven’t looked back. It probably adds up to 4 to 8 hours of standing total over the morning, afternoon and evening; sometimes less. But thanks to increased blood flow and circulation, you benefit with increased calorie burning. It’s gently invigorating and energizing. Give it a go.
48. Disconnect. Untether from tech. Disable all “push” notifications on your phone. Don’t sleep with your phone under your pillow (radio + satellite signals interfere with your sleeping patterns). Switch to vibrate, and let everyone know that (barring some emergency) nighttime is for sleeping, not unnecessary texts or emails.
49. Speak less; say more. Place more meaning into what you say, but say less overall. Say more in fewer words; give content, meaning and love through lesser effort. Looking for a deeper challenge? Say less in your own head: quiet that incessant, nonstop inner narrator!
50. Start a fruit/vegetable and flower garden. This is something I began … wow, maybe 5 years ago? … and although my interest in maintaining the garden outside my family’s house in Rhode Island comes and goes, over the few years that I really cultivated it was extremely rewarding, The fun, tough work of tilling a garden is humbling, teaches patience, and is also a helluva lot of fun to witness grow. There’s a reason why gardening is such a powerful practice that even Japanese samurai warriors would master centuries ago.
How I’ll do it in 2012: My goal will be to master the delicate art of apartment-gardening in 2012 — I might just start with tomatoes and herbs :)
51. Laugh every day. Some days I’ll literally take time out from my hours spent writing to sneak in an episode of TV like How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family or another hilarious favorite just to jack up my positivity and mood. An energy boost follows, as does productivity and what feels like a simple ease of mind. And hey, what the hell, why ever put off laughing?
52. Shift perspective on your situation once every day. Take five minutes to look at a situation, relationship, conflict, or so-called problem ongoing in your life from a completely new perspective every day. Hopefully, issues will not be so frequent that you’ll need to every day — but such a positive perspective-shifting practice as “reframing” helps us to break bad habits of thinking and realize that everything ain’t so bad after all.
53. Write more letters. Write to yourself, seal them up and open years down the line. Write to a friend or family member. Write for the fun of it. I’ve gotten into the habit of sending my young cousins postcards when I’m away in a city they’ve probably never even heard of — and they just love it. Want a tech alternative? Try letter.ly.
How I’ll do it in 2012: I’m starting a new newsletter called The Awakening Warrior, a premium, biweekly pay-for newsletter that will chronicle a never-ending adventure of opening my heart, mind and spirit to true awakening. My blog’s subscribers (always free) will have first dibs, so subscribe to get early access :)
54. Rejuvenate your energy levels with soundtracks for the seasons. I’ve got dozens of CDs in my car that I rotate through depending upon the time of year and the seasons. It’s like having soundtracks year round based upon the time, month, weather, or my general mood. Examples? Here are my favorites lately:
- In late spring/early summer, Eddie Vedder’s Into the Wild soundtrack and Ukelele Songs.
- Late summer, Red Hot Chili Peppers (I’m With You, Californication, Stadium Arcadium, By the Way, live albums + mixes).
- In early/late autumn, Kings of Leon (Only By the Night, Aha Shake Heartbreak, Because of the Times).
- Late winter, Shinedown (Live albums + mixes).
55. Get rid of a ton of stuff (routinely) through thrift store donations. This has become a great personal tradition that is convenient around any time that I’m moving. It feels liberating to free yourself from all of the clutter of unnecessary crap that you’ve come to acquire — and when you move, you definitely begin to understand how much you have that you don’t need! Also, it’s completely awesome to know that your unneeded stuff will go to people — neighbors of yours — who really need it.
How I’ll do it in 2012: My favorite donation center is a local thrift chain called Savers, which in conjunction with local charities sells all of the goods that you donate there (at very low prices) and uses all proceeds to directly help people.
56. Drink 100 fluid ounces of water per day. Rejuvenate and refresh your body through rehydration, and reap the benefits of a healthier everything — including a sharper mind and leaner body. About 1/3 of the time, we mistake thirst pangs for hunger — crazy, right? And 100 ounces is about .77 gallons, which sure seems like a lot, but I promise you that it goes down very easy over the course of an entire day.
How I’ll do it in 2012: This is a habit that I’ve been maintaining for months and its helped me maintain higher level of energy on any given day. I’ve realized that when I feel slightly “off,” tired or dizzy, it’s usually because of even the slightest dehydration.
57. Lose expectations. On purpose. And stop expecting specifics. We tend to believe that knowing, wanting and even demanding specifics will be the fastest path to seeing results. The truth, as I’ve learned, is that expectations actually hamper achievement and, maybe ironically, that decision-making without expectations is the real powerhouse of positive growth and forward momentum.
How I’ll do it in 2012: I’m moving to New York City in 2012 — in a matter of weeks. The specifics? Very unknown. And that’s on purpose. The specifics will work themselves out. And I’m happy that you’ll be there with me along the way :)
Happy New Year!