Why Kindness Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution

Year after year, the top resolutions remain the same – get fit, lose weight, save money, eat healthy and quit (insert unhealthy habit here). A few weeks (or if you’re lucky a few months) into the new year, often these resolutions fall to the side as every day life takes over.

But what if I told you there’s one New Year’s resolution you could keep all throughout the year? One resolution that could quite possibly change your outlook and add to your well-being. Something you could do that will help make your life and the world a little better ― simply, practicing kindness for yourself and others.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
– Dalai Lama

Be kind to yourself

Let go of the negative emotions, people and habits in your life that no longer serve you.

Stop the negativity – We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to judging ourselves harshly, putting ourselves down or putting unnecessary pressures on ourselves. We all have negative thoughts that run through our head, mine include: I should eat better, I should work out more, I should be more patient with my kids. The result, we bring ourselves down but we don’t have to.

We may or may not lose that 10 pounds or stop eating sugar, but we can put a stop to our negative self-talk. One sure fire way to do that is gratitude. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as writing a list every day with five things you’re grateful for or asking each family member at dinner what the best part of their days was.

Say goodbye to toxic, unhealthy relationships – We all have those few relationships that add more stress to our lives than they should. Maybe there with a friend, colleague or family member. Unhealthy relationships aren’t always easy to identify. It took a long time for me to recognize that a close friendship was toxic. Each conversation and encounter with this friend left me feeling drained and exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t be myself and was in an involuntary competition. Eventually, I ended things and I instantly felt relief. Over time, letting go of this relationship helped me welcome new supportive friendships into my life.

We can’t always walk away from the toxic people in our lives, but we can limit our time with people who don’t add to our well-being.

“Make it so easy that you can’t say no.”
– Leo Babauta

Start small – Creating a new habit is tough and it’s even tougher when we set big goals for ourselves (lose 30 pounds in 30 days). I’m all for dreaming big but building on small successes is what helps us reach our end goals. So start small – let’s say, start with trying to lose one pound a week or eat one less sugary treat a day.

Practice self-care – I used to think self-care was all about treating yourself – going to the spa or splurging on something you’ve wanted –  but I’ve come to realize that true self-care runs much deeper than that. I remember reading that we often don’t treat ourselves as kindly and lovingly as we treat our little ones. We make sure they get to bed on time, eat healthy meals, have time each day to rest and play. Now, it’s time for us to start doing that for ourselves. Find ways to fill your cup because you matter.

Forgive yourself and others – Lingering resentments have a way of taking over and not only reduce the quality of our well-being but also our relationships. It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game but ultimately, we are responsible for our life. Maybe it’s time to let go of that family grudge or that rude comment or big argument. Forgiving ourselves is just as important. I’m the queen of overthinking and I question myself too often but I’ve started to let go of what I can’t control and practice acceptance.

Be kind to others

Volunteer – Over the years, I’ve donated to many organizations, but nothing has made me feel quite as good as volunteering my time. Life is busy and it’s often hard to fit in volunteering along with everything else but try planning in a quarterly or even an annual volunteer activity. Involve your kids, friends and family to make it easier to commit. Do something that matters to you and makes a difference in your community. My favourites are preparing a meal for those in need and adopting a family for Christmas.

Donate – Money, food and clothes are always in demand. Take some time to find out where you would like to make a difference and contribute there. I have a list of go to places where I know my children’s clothes and mine will truly make a difference including the Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre. This year, we decided to ask for donations to the food bank instead of gifts for our daughter’s birthday. I’ve also started carrying granola bars to give out when approached by those in need. Big or small, we have the power to make a difference.

Practice random acts of kindness – According to Psychology Today, “Compassion and kindness reduce stress, boost our immune systems, and help reduce negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression”. We are all strapped for time, but kindness doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Really it can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, sending a thoughtful text or smiling at a stranger.

The new year is upon us and with that the desire to let go of the past, start fresh, and be the best version of ourselves. Let’s make sure that it also includes building a kinder world. What’s your New Year’s resolution? Does it involve kindness?

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