You don’t have to set high-pressure, all-or-nothing goals to do more, get more, or be more. You might think a higher-paying job, a better relationship, or a fancier car will make you happier. But it’s true what they say — happiness comes from within. And cultivating happiness has much more to do with appreciating what you do have than with getting things you don’t.
To start living a happier, more joyful, and serene life, choose a few of these intentions and embrace them starting now.
1. I will take less and give more.
It’s not about what you can get. The more you can give of yourself, the more joy and happiness you’ll feel.
2. I will work less and live more.
I gave up my legal career to do work that I was more passionate about — writing — and I’ve never regretted it for a second. Your office won’t miss you. Spend less time on what pays the bills and more time on what fulfills you. The trade-off is priceless.
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3. I will do less and be more.
Quiet time, reflection, and sleep help you stay productive, focused, and peaceful. Focus on doing less, and doing it better, in the new year. Practice saying no to what doesn’t align with your goals.
4. I will speak less and listen more.
Listening is a practice in compassion. The more you listen, the more you understand. The better you listen, the more quickly the walls of conflict crumble.
5. I will buy less and simplify more.
After the holiday season, will you remember anything you purchased or received? The less stuff you have in your life, the more room you’ll have for living. Commit to buying less this year. Give away what you no longer need and work on living with less.
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6. I will have fewer distractions and more time for reflection.
The Internet is intended to distract. Resist by being mindful, present, and aware. A daily practice of silence or mindfulness like meditation can help you feel less scattered.
7. I will be less realistic and dream more.
Quitting my legal career was neither realistic nor practical. It was a pay cut and has been filled with uncertainty. But leaving allowed me to follow my dreams. Every day that I can do that is reward enough.
8. I will complain less and appreciate more.
When you think about what you don’t have, you’ll foster a sense of lack. On the other hand, when you treasure everything you have — even the smallest of things — life will feel rich and abundant.
Worrying doesn’t change anything except your stress levels. One time when I had a computer problem, I went into a frenzied panic. The problem took two days to fix, during all of which I was anxious and frustrated.
The next time it happened, I stayed calm and resolved to surrender to the situation. I set an intention for the best outcome – and the computer was fixed within the hour. Even if it hadn’t been, I would’ve enjoyed those two days and been much more productive in the knowledge that it was out of my hands.
10. I will judge less and understand more.
You may judge someone else’s beliefs, opinions, or views in a subconscious attempt at a short-term self-esteem boost. This will inevitably make you feel worse. Instead, try being understanding. You’ll have something to be proud of, and that will increase your self-esteem in a real, lasting way.
11. I will hate less and love more.
If we continue the cycle of hate toward others, we breed more hate in the world. Set the light of love within, but more importantly, be guided by love in the choices you make and in the way you treat others.
12. I will criticize less and praise more.
Find genuine things to praise in people. Compliment random strangers. Show appreciation to the people who serve you at restaurants. Kind words are worth much more than a good tip (although you should give that, too).
13. I will follow less and lead more.
Groupthink is a recipe for an unhappy life. Do what’s in your heart. Lead the way, even if no one else is doing it.
14. I will fear less and act more.
If you’re human, you’ll feel fear. Try to notice the fear, acknowledge the fear, and break through the fear. Thank your fear for encouraging you to be cautious, but proceed anyway. Courage is a muscle — the more you use it, the better you get at overcoming fear.
15. I will think less and go with my gut more.
Your instinct, intuition, and heart know a lot more than you might give them credit for. Listen to them when you are making a decision and follow your inner voice.
16. I will please less and stay true to myself more.
You think you’re making others happy when you’re trying to please them. Unfortunately, you’re not being truthful to yourself or others. It’s okay to let people down by saying “no” if you do it with love and compassion.
Choose authenticity and honesty over people-pleasing. People-pleasing precludes the possibility for anyone — including yourself — to get to know the real you.
17. I will require less perfection from myself and accept where I am more.
Is perfectionism sabotaging your life? What is the motivation behind your perfectionist tendencies? Is it low self-esteem? Did you feel inadequate growing up? Acknowledge what’s driving your perfectionism, and accept that there is really no such thing as perfect.
Find small instances when you can practice letting good enough be good enough. Let go, breathe, and see how it feels.
18. I will hold fewer grudges and forgive more.
As you know, holding onto anger and hurt will only cause you more pain. Don’t let someone hurt you repeatedly.
Forgiveness is key to finding peace of mind and being able to move on with your life. If you can’t forgive today, set an intention to forgive the person who hurt you, as you are able, over time.