There’s nothing wrong with vowing to lose weight or quit smoking, but as far as most New Year’s resolutions go, they’re a bit tired and uninspired, don’t you think? For your health and happiness, by all means put down the cigarettes and pick up some hand-weights, but in the interest of personal growth and feeling more connected to the world around you, I suggest you adopt these six resolutions in the new year, too.1. Learn something new
Learning something new, whether it’s a sport, a recipe, a language, a game, or a hobby, not only exercises our brains, it relieves stress and gives us new avenues through which we can connect to other people. Even re-learning something you once knew has the same benefits. This year I picked up a Hula Hoop for the first time in over a decade and learned some new tricks in a weekly class I took over the summer. I had so much fun, I bought a hoop for my BFF, convinced at least four other friends to take hoop classes, and even got my 64-year-old father to hoop his heart out when he visited. Hooping hasn’t solved the world’s problems, but making sure that hoop doesn’t stop spinning can help you when it comes time to focus on bigger things.
2. Date outside your “type”
If you’ve been unlucky in love, maybe it’s time to readjust your idea of who’s right for you. If you got sick every time you ate an apple, you’d try other fruits until you found one that agreed with you, right? Likewise, if you keep getting burned by musicians, go out with a carpenter, a lawyer, a music producer. Often, our idea of Mr. or Ms. Right is based on superficial attributes that have little to do with who people really are. Go out with someone you’d ordinarily rule out, due to his job or his looks, and you might find a surprise kindred spirit.
3. Support the arts
Not only do the arts keep us from becoming complacent and stagnant, they allow us to see the world and the human condition differently and to understand — or at least question and consider — universal truths about ourselves and others. Get yourself to a museum, watch a dance performance, visit a local art exhibit, see a play or a film. Your dollars help make it possible for artists to continue doing what they do, and you may gain a new perspective in the process.
4. Make more phone calls
As a culture, we rely too much on email to stay connected with friends and loved ones. The immediacy and convenience of electronic communication is great, but words on a screen can never replace the sound of a friend’s voice, and emoticons will never fully capture intonations and laughter. Make time in your schedule — squeeze in a five minute chat if you’re feeling rushed — and reach out and touch someone the old fashioned way: through the phone lines. Your life will be more enriched because of it.
5. Keep a gratitude journal
Not to get all Oprah-y on you, but we really can choose to cultivate joy in our lives, and one of the best ways to do that is by getting in the habit of routinely naming the things we’re grateful for. They don’t have to be epic — getting to the subway stop as the train pulls in, a 50 percent markdown on a pair of boots you’ve been eying, good weather on a day off — but the simple act of acknowledging the positives in our lives is like self-administering a shot of well-being.
6. End toxic relationships
Life is too short to spend time and energy on relationships that only drain you. If you’ve got someone in your life who, whether through incessant negativity or criticisms, makes you feel bad more often than he or she makes you feel good, it’s time to walk away. Do a quick rip-off-the-band-aid break-up or a slow phase-out, gradually returning calls less and less until the toxic person gets the message and moves on. You’ll be better in the new year for it.