As you sit down to brainstorm your New Year’s goals, we challenge you to go a bit deeper this year. More often than not, the driving force behind our resolutions stems from societal pressures and conventional norms (like losing weight, eating healthier, and quitting smoking or drinking). While these goals can undoubtedly serve a purpose and improve our physical and mental well-being, we’re often clouded by our pursuit of immediate and tangible results. When stuck in this mindset, we often neglect the bigger picture: setting fulfilling resolutions that address deeper, more intrinsic goals and values, like finding lasting happiness and a sense of purpose. However, what if we make 2024 the year to prioritize self-care, foster meaningful connections, and build a life we love?
Ahead, how to have your happiest (and healthiest) year yet with twenty 2024 New Year’s Resolutions that foster joy, cultivate gratitude, and support your overall mental health and well-being.
The Secret to Happiness (Based on the World’s Happiest People!)
Drawing inspiration from the world’s happiest people — in places like Finland and the Blue Zones — along with insights from Harvard’s renowned happiness study, let’s break down the top takeaways about how to cultivate happiness.
Finland: The World’s Happiest People
Finland consistently tops the global happiness charts, securing the title of happiest country in the world for six consecutive years! Home to the world’s happiest people, this Nordic nation is clearly on to something, drawing the attention and admiration of researchers and happiness enthusiasts around the globe.
According to the Finnish, here are the three top secrets to happiness:
- Establish a healthy work-life balance: with flexible work arrangements, limited overtime, and generous vacation time.
- Foster strong social connections: shown to improve resilience, contribute to a sense of belonging, and improve overall well-being.
- Become a lifelong learner: for personal growth and a sense of purpose.
Blue Zones: The Secret to Longevity
Idolized as the top trending diet and lifestyle to follow for health and longevity, the Blue Zones have captured the attention of individuals worldwide. Known for having a significantly higher number of centenarians and a lower prevalence of age-related diseases, the Blue Zone regions offer valuable insights into the habits and practices that contribute to a longer and healthier life.
Here are their three biggest takeaways:
- Embrace plant-based eating: with foods rich in fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains.
- Live an active lifestyle: with daily low-intensity physical activity.
- Prioritize community: With meaningful social connections and regular time spent with loved ones.
Harvard: The Science of Happiness
Leave it to Harvard to break down the science of happiness with an ongoing study (the longest ever conducted, spanning several decades) sharing profound insights into the factors that contribute to a fulfilling life. Based on their data, the top three key findings include:
- Keep quality relationships: highlighting the importance of strong, meaningful relationships in fostering happiness and promoting longevity.
- Adopt regular gratitude practices: expressing gratitude, appreciating the positive, and not sweating the small stuff are among the top key factors.
- Finding purpose and meaning: particularly with hobbies or activities that evoke a sense of joy.
20 Resolutions That Will Make 2024 Your Happiest Year Yet
#1 Practice Gratitude Daily
It sounds simple (and obvious), but incorporating an intentional dose of gratitude into your day can go a long way in cultivating happiness — even if you’re not feeling super grateful in the moment. Maybe you’re grateful for your morning coffee, the unconditional love from your dog, or having the ability to step outside and soak in a moment of sunshine. Research shows that the practice of daily gratitude can have profound effects on both mental and physical well-being, with studies suggesting that individuals who regularly engage in gratitude exercises experience lower levels of stress and depression, improved sleep quality, and a heightened sense of overall life satisfaction.
#2 Soak in the Sunshine
Speaking of sunshine, science shows that exposure to daily sunlight is one of the best things we can do for our mood and mental health. Exposure to natural sun stimulates the production of serotonin, our “happy hormone,” in the brain. Plus, it helps synthesize the production of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in regulating mood and mitigating symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder. The best part? a mere 10-15 minutes per day is all you need to get the mood-boosting benefits!
#3 Enjoy Small Little Treats
Indulging in small, simple pleasures is an anticipated 2024 wellness trend that can significantly support happiness, according to the Whole Foods trends report. Whether it’s savoring a piece of dark chocolate, enjoying a bite-sized dessert, or treating yourself to your favorite coffee shop latte, these little treats provide moments of joy amidst your daily routine. While seemingly small, research suggests that incorporating small, budget-friendly treats into your day can boost mood, foster a positive mindset, and help you find joy in the little things.
#4 Disconnect to Reconnect
While taking a break from technology can feel intimidating, dedicating time to unplug and disconnect is crucial for our mental well-being. Not only has it been shown to improve sleep, enhance relationships, and promote a greater sense of presence in the moment, but disconnecting from screen time can also encourage more mindful habits like reading, spending time in nature, and creating more meaningful face-to-face connections. Maybe this means you take a weekend-long digital detox, avoid your phone first thing in the morning, or unplug at a certain time every night.
#5 Make Time for Meaningful Connection
Looking back to the happiness hacks from the Blue Zones, Finland, and Harvard research, an overarching theme highlighted by all was the importance of fostering meaningful connections. Considered to be a cornerstone of a happy and healthy life, prioritizing quality time with loved ones — whether in person or through meaningful conversations — is a surefire way to support your mental health and foster a sense of belonging and support. Making 2024 your happiest year could look like reconnecting with old loved ones, scheduling regular family dinners and coffee dates with friends, or establishing new connections with like-minded people who support you and your goals.
#6 Move For Mental Health
A big theme that emerged this year was moving for mental health, and it’s something we’re eager to bring into 2024 (and beyond!). Unlike past years, where movement was seen as a way to primarily enhance physical fitness, the evolving narrative recognizes the profound impact of exercise on happiness and mental well-being. Research consistently highlights the significant role of regular physical activity in reducing stress, alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, and promoting a more positive mood.
The best part? Moving for mental health is all about finding what works for you! Consider this when setting your 2024 New Year’s goals. Maybe you incorporate more yoga and stretching into your routine, or even join a low-intensity FitOn challenge to maintain motivation and try something new!
#7 Become a Life-Long Learner
Another area highlighted by the world’s happiest people is the commitment to being a lifelong learner. And while this could look like going back to school or achieving a new certification, this act of learning extends far beyond formal education. From books and podcasts to workshops and online courses, the resolution of learning is all about challenging yourself to stay curious and learn new ideas, skills, and perspectives that enrich both personal and professional aspects of life — in whatever way suits you best!
#8 Ground Down in Nature
Another culture that models happiness well is the Japanese culture, particularly with their philosophy of “forest bathing” — the act of immersing yourself in nature, ideally surrounded by trees and other grounding elements. Shown to reduce stress, boost mood, and enhance overall well-being, this mindful practice offers ancient wisdom and inspiration that we can call upon as we set our 2024 resolutions. Make it a goal to spend more time outdoors, whether it’s going to your local park, on a nature stroll or hike, or even creating a small outdoor garden or sanctuary in your yard.
#9 Add Some Greenery Into Your House
In addition to increasing your time in nature, bringing the outdoors inside can have a positive impact on your happiness and overall well-being. While it may seem like a simple resolution, incorporating more houseplants into your living space can help boost mood and mental health by improving air quality, evoking a sense of connection to nature, and creating a clear, clean, and aesthetically pleasing environment.
#10 Clear the Clutter
On that note, make it a goal to clear the clutter! When you declutter your physical space, you declutter your mind. Research suggests that a tidy environment can positively impact mental well-being by reducing stress and increasing focus — it can even promote better sleep! If the thought of organizing feels overwhelming to you, take it one step at a time. Start small with a specific area, like a desk or a closet, and gradually work your way through the spaces that need attention.
#11 Pack Your Bags
Regular getaways, even short ones, contribute significantly to mental health. Taking time off, whether for a weekend retreat or a more extended vacation, allows for relaxation, rejuvenation, and a break from routine. Prioritize using up all your vacation time in the year ahead! Not only will it help to prevent burnout and promote a healthier work-life balance, but it will give you a much-earned break without the stress of taking time off. And remember, embracing regular breaks is not just a luxury! In fact, it’s a non-negotiable practice among the healthiest and longest-living people.
#12 Slow Down & Schedule Time to Rest
This brings us to an important priority for 2024: slowing down and scheduling deliberate time for rest. Given our “busy is better” mindset, it may feel uncomfortable — perhaps even lazy — at first. However, it’s something you should be incorporating daily, even if it’s a mere 5-minute meditation or a moment of solitude. Take it as a tip from the Mediterranean countries, some of the longest-living people, that incorporate daily “siestas” (essentially afternoon naps), after most mid-day meals!
#13 Meditate for Mindfulness
Did you know that mindful meditation has been scientifically proven to boost mental health and happiness? According to research, individuals who engage in mindfulness meditation experience not only a reduction in stress but also a significant enhancement in overall life satisfaction (not to mention reduced blood pressure, improved longevity, and enhanced immune function).
Here are some FitOn meditations to help you get started:
- Gratitude Affirmations with Kenta
- Embracing Change with DeAndre Sinette
- Morning Manifestations with DeAndre Sinette
#14 Eat More Plants
As you contemplate your 2024 New Year’s resolutions, consider a simple yet powerful commitment: incorporating more plant-based foods into your meals. You don’t have to undertake a drastic diet overhaul (in fact, please don’t!). Rather, consider adopting an “abundance mindset” by filling your plate with a variety of plant foods rich in various colors. Topping the chart year after year as a healthy wellness habit, including more plant foods in your diet is a wellness trend that has shown to benefit everything from cardiovascular health and weight management to even mood.
#15 Incorporate Random Acts of Kindness
Spreading kindness is a win-win. Not only does it benefit others, but it also enhances your own sense of happiness and fulfillment. Whether it’s volunteering, helping a neighbor, or surprising a friend with a thoughtful gesture, include more random acts of kindness in the year ahead. Then, sit back and watch the positive ripple effect in your community — kindness is contagious!
Expanding upon the theme of spreading kindness, volunteering is another way to create active, positive change — for both you, and your community. Whether you choose to support a local charity, contribute to environmental initiatives, or lend a helping hand in community projects, the act of giving back is a source of deep personal fulfillment that brings about transformative change for all parties involved. Simply put, doing good makes you feel good!
#17 Foster A Healthy Work-Life Balance
With levels of work-related stress and burnout on the rise, setting boundaries and establishing a healthy balance between work and life is a must. To create a healthier balance in the year ahead, set realistic work hours, avoid taking work home with you, and prioritize self-care.
#18 Embrace Your Inner Child & Have More Fun
A simple way to make 2024 your happiest year yet is to bring more joy into your life! As adults, the responsibilities and demands of life often take over, leading us to leave little room for joy and play. However, embracing your inner child — whether it’s playing more games, dancing and laughing (a lot!) more, or indulging in child-like activities — can go a long way in promoting happiness and shifting your overall well-being. Allow yourself the freedom to explore and engage in activities that you wouldn’t normally do, like planning a spontaneous game night with friends, or simply being silly and dancing around your living room!
#19 Be Kind to Yourself
Setting a resolution to be kind to yourself sounds kind of silly, but in reality, we’re often our harshest critic. Rather than hold yourself to an unrealistic, unattainable standard (as you may have done in past years), let’s make this year about practicing self-compassion and self-love. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements (no matter how small), practice daily positive affirmations, and speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend or loved one. If you walk away with one happiness hack, let it be this!!
#20 Fill Up Your Cup
Finally, no matter how this looks for you, make sure you fill up your cup. This includes prioritizing self-care, making time for activities that bring you joy, and ensuring you’re allotting time for rest and relaxation. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a long bath, or sipping your morning coffee in silence, regularly fill up your own cup to ensure you have the emotional and physical reserves and aren’t operating on empty.
Your 2024 Guide to a Happy, Healthy Year
Based on tried-and-true experience, science-backed data, and insights from some of the wisest cultures, here’s everything you need to build your happiest, healthiest year yet. From cultivating meaningful relationships, to practicing mindfulness and gratitude, to embracing an abundance mindset with plant-based eating, these twenty 2024 resolutions will help you find joy and fulfillment in your everyday life and set you up for a lifetime of growth and success!