January Resolution: Foster Happiness

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This is the first month in what will be a series of articles on Positive Resolutions for 2021. The goal is to achieve one new thing each month – a positive goal---and then add on to that each month. At the end of the year you’ll have twelve new habits and a healthier lifestyle.

Let’s start with happiness.

Researchers who track happiness on Twitter noted the “saddest weeks ever” in 2020. Another study funded by the National Science Foundation looks at Americans’ mental health and outlook and compares them with the past fifty years. The study authors report that their respondents reached “an all time-low” last spring and happiness “neither deteriorated nor improved” as the year went on.

But, we really don’t need researchers to tell us this….we know we all need a little happiness now.

Happiness isn't just a feeling that we all need or want. Researchers that study what makes people happy found that there are common themes when it comes to happiness. Happy people have close relationships, strive for positive attitudes, express gratitude, look for the good in every day, are optimistic, help others, are constantly learning new things, focus on their own strengths and live mindfully. While also nice to be around, happy people are more creative, more energetic, and more productive.

Here are some ideas for ways you can increase your happiness. Do any of these ideas light a spark for you? Make a measurable goal for yourself regarding happiness and make it happen.

Possible goals for this month:

  • Make a list of what makes you happy.
  • Do at least one thing that makes you happy. (Every day? Every week? As a special outing?)
  • Make a happy song playlist. Include songs that make you happy or that bring you positive memories.
    • Or you can go with some songs that have scientifically been proven to be the happiest songs ever. Dr. Jacob Joliji, a Dutch researcher in cogitative neuroscience developed a formula for songs that make you feel good.
    • Here are his top 10.
    • Check out 110 Feel Good Songs on Spotify using Dr. Jolij’s formula. It's guaranteed that they’ll make you smile and maybe even move.
  • Journal every day about something that made you happy (there are gratitude apps that can help you do this).
  • Volunteer one day a week or month
  • Do some research on your own about happiness. Action for Happiness has some great ideas to explore.
  • Read a book, take an online course in happiness or watch a YouTube video on happiness.
  • Reach out to others. Make a goal to call someone you haven’t heard from each week. Text a positive message to others each day.
  • Share the positives: greet everyone you meet, hold the door for others, small acts of kindness.

This month, bring more happiness into your life.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS


  1. New Research Suggests We’re Living in Historically Unhappy Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Nora McGreevy, Smithsonianmag.com June 29, 2020
    COVID Response Tracking Study, NORC at the University of Chicago
  2. Does Employee Happiness have an Impact on Productivity? Oxford University, October 2019
  3. Every day creative activity as a path to flourishing, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2018
  4. Hansen, Kailee and Schramm, David G., "Three Steps for a Happier Life" (2017). All Current Publications. Paper 1779. Utah State University Extension https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/extension_curall/1779
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