14 New Year’s Resolutions to Make 2019 Your Happiest Year Ever

Updated: Mar. 03, 2021

New Year's resolutions may sound cliché, but experts say there are ways to keep them.


Set yourself up for success

You’re more likely to keep a positive resolution than a restrictive one (i.e. “I will eat an extra service of fruits and veggies every day” over “I will never eat chocolate again.”), reported an article in Time magazine. Also important is to have a support system in place for success. With an environment that supports your behavior and by surrounding yourself with supportive friends and relatives, your chances increase to achieve your goals, the article explains.


Commit to positive mornings

The way we live our mornings is the way we’ll experience our days—and life, says Kristi Ling, author of the book Operation Happiness. “Start each day off with healthy habits and a positive outlook and you’ll notice a big difference in your overall level of happiness,” Ling says. Her recommendations include starting the day with uplifting reading or podcasts (check out Waking Up With Ryan), fueling your body with healthy food and hydration, and trying an inspiring practice such as a five-minute meditation, or 60-seconds of deep breathing. “Positive mornings are part of the foundation for sustainable happiness,” says Ling.


Stock your fridge

Fill your plate with clean, whole non-processed foods as often as possible, says Rebecca Lewis, RD, head dietitian at HelloFresh. This includes a balance of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. “Fruits and veggies are packed with essential vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants. These are critical components for keeping our immune functions running strong and soaking up all the damage we do to our bodies daily,’ Lewis explains. “Try to reach for foods that don’t come in a box or a bag, which is often indicative of a highly processed food product that is ‘shelf-stable’ (which is typically higher in sodium and preservatives). In other words, keep your fridge fuller than your pantry. Not sure how to start? Consider a meal prep service like HelloFresh that delivers ingredients to your doorstep or Euphebe, which provides ready-made, delicious vegetarian meals.


Go easier on yourself

Make a resolution to be as kind and gentle with yourself as possible. “We tend to be extremely hard on ourselves on so many levels, which can hold us back from experiencing all the happiness we deserve,” Ling says. “Make a habit of speaking about (and thinking about) yourself the way you’d speak about someone you respect and love dearly. It takes practice, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll notice a huge positive shift.” Are you a judgmental person?


Carve out time for your passions

Whether it’s gardening, hiking, playing cards, or cooking, make time for things you enjoy, says Ling. “It’s easy to get so busy with work and family that we forget to nurture our souls by making time to do what brings us joy and makes us feel alive,” she continues. “A great way to create more time for things you love is to regularly go through your calendar and eliminate anything that’s not extremely important to you.”


Take a vacation

Expand your horizons literally and logistically. Immerse yourself in new experiences that can help you grow as a person and appreciate the differences in the world. ‎”Travel to a faraway land to learn more about the world and other cultures and make unforgettable memories,” suggests Vanessa Picariello, senior director, public relations, Norwegian Cruise Line. “As the saying goes, ‘travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,'” she says. These are New Year’s resolutions health experts wish you’d really make.


Get rid of some stuff

Having less clutter makes people happy, says Claire Tompkins, a professional organizer and “clutter coach” in Berkeley, California. “Less visual distraction is soothing to the eye and mind,” Tompkins says. “Fewer decorative items mean you can appreciate the ones you have more. Less stuff to manage, to look for, to move out of the way and to keep clean means you get more time for fun.” She says the key to making an effective resolution to reduce clutter is to take it slow. Set a reasonable, reachable goal of changing one thing in January, says Tompkins, for example going through your mail on a daily basis or clearing out one box. “Getting the mail sorted means your kitchen counter will be cleared and usable, or your dining table can display a vase of flowers.”


Embrace a happiness mindset

Scott Wilhite, creator of the Feed Your Happy app, and author of The 7 Core Skills of Everyday Happiness: Scientifically Proven Skills for a Happier, More Meaningful Life, suggests creating a year of fortunate moments. “Develop a habit of recognizing what’s going right in your life,” he says. “Keep a stack of notecards or strips of paper in the kitchen where each day you can write something fortunate that happened that day. This will develop healthy thought patterns of looking for and expecting good things to happen.” Wilhite suggests to store all the moments in a clear, plastic box or jar, and then at the close of the year enjoy an end-of-the-year review party as you read through your tiny triumphs. “Positive moments add up,” he adds.


Learn to play an instrument

Add some music to your life in 2018 and explore your creative side. “From creativity, patience, and teamwork to confidence and critical thinking, learning to play an instrument builds life and professional skills like no other activity,” says Lana Albright with Reverb Lessons in Chicago. “Beyond the cognitive benefits of music—of which there are many—it’s fun! Studies show that playing an instrument lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, makes you feel more relaxed, and helps you connect with others. There’s also an immense sense of fulfillment and pride that comes with mastering a new or difficult song.” She says no matter your age, learning an instrument is easier than ever. “Many local instrument shops offer group lessons, where you can learn to play in a relaxed environment and meet new people. If you prefer one-on-one lessons, Reverb Lessons connects you with an instructor who works around your schedule and is willing to meet you at your home or connect with you virtually.”


Cherish your alone time

Steve Siebold, author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class, says the best resolution to make this year your happiest yet is to make more time for yourself. “It sounds easy enough, but in our fast-paced and hectic lives, we tend to neglect number-one when we have too much going on,” Siebold says. “Human beings need a rest and recovery strategy. The simplest way to do this is to commit to 20 to 30 minutes of solitude each day.” When you put aside all the excess cognition, the result is clarity, creativity, and a renewed sense of purpose, Siebold says. “You’re going to love the way you feel and you’re going to be a lot more productive.” Here are New Year’s resolutions that are impossible to stick to.


Commit to your wellness and fitness

Setting challenging, obtainable goals, and be specific with time limits, says Cindy Wasilewski, fitness manager at The Lodge at Woodloch, a destination spa resort in Hawley, Pennsylvania. “Track your progress,” she says. “Find the best time or group fitness class that fits your schedule. You’ll meet a network of people that have similar fitness routines and the same workout schedule. The more the merrier.” Another tip, while you exercise listen to music that motivates you. “Dancing is a great way to express yourself, get active,” Wasilewski says.


Take control of your finances

After the holiday season, you may be facing debt or may want to put a plan in place to start saving for a big purchase in 2018. Michelle Brownstein, CFP at Personal Capital, in the San Francisco Bay area suggests that to kick off 2018 and get to financial success, the first step is to do a 30-day money cleanse. “Make a budget, review your accounts, and stick to a plan and you’ll find financial happiness,” she says.


Love your children unconditionally

Parents shouldn’t doubt or try to change their children’s identities, no matter what. That means letting your child embrace a love of sports if you’re an intellectual, encouraging whichever career they choose even if it’s not the family business, and accepting their sexual identity. “If parents have trouble accepting their child’s sexual orientation, they should consult a therapist, gay co-worker, or a trusted, positive friend to resolve issues,” says Wesley C. Davidson, co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know. “Love your children unconditionally and tell them they will be supported.”


Stop keeping score in your relationships

Relationships aren’t competitions—nobody wins unless everybody wins, says Donna Cameron, founder of A Year of Living Kindly. “Does it really matter who called who last or whose ‘turn’ it is to host dinner? When we keep score in our relationships, joy vanishes. Letting go of mental tallies and ledgers frees our minds from resentment, grudges and disappointments,” she says. Next, check out the ways to make your New Year’s resolutions stick in 2019.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest