One of my favorite memes was based on a tweet from 2018:
My 3yo said she wanted to be an astronaut, and I said she had to study hard, go to college, learn a lot of science, and take a physical fitness test, and she shrugged and said, “That’s just 4 things.” So she’s basically a nonchalant motivational speaker (twitter.com/jendziura/status/963978450175516672).
As we look with anticipation to a blank slate of a year, often we are tempted to change all the things. However, experience is an honest reminder that overhauling everything all at once rarely works. So I’m going to take some advice from a young, nonchalant motivational speaker and work on “just four things” for this year—one thing in each of four aspects of health. Why these four? Well, because we are all wishing each other a Happy New Year, and these four have been shown to impact happiness.
Want to join me in claiming personal responsibility for our happiness this year? Then keep reading. If you’d rather not, then stop reading and head to the comment sections on Twitter and Facebook. (Obviously, I’m not giving up sarcasm for 2022, in case you were wondering.)
Physical health. Let’s start here. After all, many resolutions are based on eating better, losing weight, or exercising more. Find one thing you can do to invest in your physical body, which God tells us is a temple that he made by hand. Decide to move for 15 minutes a day, or choose to meet friends for walks instead of coffee. If you were already active, consider setting a big goal: participating in a CrossFit or weightlifting competition or a century bike ride or a half marathon. Want to make a nutritional change? Make one more meal at home each week, or commit to having a fruit or vegetable at every meal.
Emotional health. As mental health issues continue to rise, make sure to monitor your mental wellness. Perhaps start journaling, or send one handwritten letter a month to maintain connection with others. Cut out a TV show that isn’t helping you spend your time wisely, set a timer for reading Twitter or Facebook comments, or remove social media from your phone for a week. Pick a new hobby, make a list of books to read, or write inspirational phrases on your bathroom mirror (either with a dry erase marker or on a sticky note). Volunteer your time to serve others.
Financial health. Financial stress can easily lead to anxiety and depression—and even divorce. Track your spending, or create a budget. Decide to save 3% or 4% or 10% of your salary. Pick a charitable organization or church and donate a portion of your income. Shop for groceries only once a week to avoid spur of the moment additions to the cart. Meet with a financial advisor or create a will.
Spiritual health. I’ve saved the best for last. Barna research shows that practicing Christians have fared better during the pandemic than the general population. But faith isn’t just about making this life better. The Bible shows that Jesus brought us into God’s family, which helps us have a full, complete life both now and for eternity. To grow closer to God, which will help you grow in the ability not to be anxious about anything, commit to watching Time of Grace daily videos or download a Bible app. Find a Bible reading plan. Keep a notepad by your bed and start or end your day with prayer. Hold Bible studies in your home, or join a local church and participate in in-person worship. Remind yourself that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). I mean, whoa, GOD is standing watch over our hearts and minds to protect and defend us? That is cool!
Want to join me? It’s just four things. Happy New Year!
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who isn’t all that great at keeping New Year’s resolutions, so she’ll probably work on “just four things for January” and see how that pans out.