2014As the year comes barreling down to the finish line, I’m already focused on next year. In particular, I’m thinking about what I want to do in 2014 to make life even better! That means more time for activities that bring me joy.

This thought process left me with a short list of resolutions that I am eager to realize. The number one reason why most resolutions fall by the wayside is because we set goals that we aren’t really invested in. Not so with this top five list!

5.  Learn something new. Living with a sense of curiosity and an attitude of life-long learning has great mental and emotional benefits. I’ve blogged before about Coursera.org where you can take university level college courses absolutely free. Earlier this year I took a chemistry course that kicked my butt. It was a real ten-week commitment with homework and tests that ensured I learned the material. Since the launch of Coursera.org, a number of other online universities are offering free courses. Check out what Harvard, MIT, and Stanford have to offer!

Interested in learning a new language? You can find tons of free language audios on iTunes and Babbel.

4. Find a physical outlet that you enjoy to ensure you get plenty of exercise. It’s a known fact that exercise makes you feel better! Moreover, a study released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get adequate exercise each week. That means that only 1 in 5 adult Americans get the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity — or, any combination of both. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn hip hop or take a zumba class. Even if it’s walking, that is a great way to get some fresh air and work those muscles. Check out Mapmywalk.com for walking trails and groups in your area.

3. Clear your mind and focus on simple pleasures. Focus on the bad and you’ll find bad; focus on the good and you’ll find good. This is basic mental mindfulness, but so easy to forget. A great example is noticing how the classical music playing on the radio enhances this car wash experience! So simple, yet so delightful! Who would have thought going through the car wash would be so much fun?

Clearing the mind also benefits from clearing the clutter in your physical life. Make it a habit to get rid of what you don’t need. Have a collection box in your extra room or garage where you put items that you no longer use. When the box is full, take it to the nearest thrift shop for a tax-deductible donation.

Lastly, sometimes you need to clear yourself of negative people. That might mean letting go of friendships that leave you feeling frustrated. If your relationships don’t feel good, they aren’t good for you.

2. Listen to your inner voice. One’s inner voice is so often ignored when it knows, more than any external voice, who you are and what makes YOU happy. Add a few minutes to your daily routine to close your eyes, turn inward, and listen to your inner voice. Believe your inner truth. Stop making excuses and feeling the need to defend who you are and what you want in life. Stop believing everyone else’s truth — ask questions, push back, and find the truth that belongs to you.

Release your attachment to by letting go of the importance you attach to what other’s think. Reinforce the good in your life with reading material that helps you stay focused on what’s most important. Here’s a great list of the top 100 blogs for personal happiness (scroll to the bottom for the list). I’m so happy my favorite blog, Marc and Angel Hack Life, is #4 on the list!

And, drum roll please…

1. Make more memories with the ones you love most. When you spend time with people you love and enjoy, you feel happier. Cook together, run errands together, take walks together — better yet, plan an adventure together! Pick a place you’ve never been before, either local or distant, and visit. Soak in the ambiance and listen to the conversations in the streets and shops. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and imagine what your life might have been like had you grown up there. Going to new places is exciting, especially if you make it an exploratory adventure. Moments of excitement make lasting memories. The best way to make this happen is to plan it in advance. Once it’s on your calendar, you’re more likely to stay committed. Go on, gather your family, stick the pin on the map, and plan a special memory.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

5. Learning: I’m going to brush up on my German and work on Russian. Or French. Or Spanish. So many languages, so little time!

4. Exercise: I’ve been itching to try zumba and there is a class just a few miles from where I live. Zumba it is!

3. Clearing clutter: I’m going to clean out my garage. Seriously. Stop laughing. Just you wait and see!

2. Follow inner voice: No worries here, I’ll just keep on doing what I do best!

1. Make memories: Hubby and I are planning a European vacation in the summer and we’ll be taking our youngest son on his first overseas adventure. Can’t wait!

What will add more happiness to your 2014?

Artwork found here.

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