Upward: Make your 2017 resolutions more meaningful

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When you are writing your goals down for 2017, don’t leave out the one that can have the biggest impact.

We’re in the midst of the holiday season and soon many people will be daydreaming, talking about and writing down their resolutions for 2017. Let’s not write down the worn-out resolutions we do every year, and make them a little more meaningful this time around. 

Since I can remember, the week before New Year’s my parents sat the kids down and had us write down our New Year’s resolutions. Mine were similar every year: get good grades, save money, and live healthier. As most stories like this end, my goals fell by the wayside, and I continued about my year not making any significant changes to accomplish my resolutions.

I’ve wondered about this cycle and have puzzled over why this happens. As I reflect on the resolutions I’ve made in the past, I realize that they’ve almost always been exclusively self-serving.

What if we made our resolutions about connecting with others and adding value to the world around us?

In the 75 year-long Grant Study done by Harvard University, it’s been shown that good relationships make us happier and healthier. The study followed the lives of hundreds of people from different backgrounds through their lives and concluded that human connection was the factor that connected people who described their lives as satisfying.

This year, cultivating quality relationships is at the top of my resolution list. Not only because it is sort of self-serving (who doesn’t want to be happier and healthier?), but it also involves helping the people I care about and the people I haven’t yet met.

Here are some things you can try if you have a similar resolution:

Put your phone down

My most meaningful moments, conversations and memorable nights happened when I either forgot my phone at home or decidedly left it in my purse.

I am a slave to my phone on most days and many people in my generation are as well. Whether it is checking work emails, scrolling through Instagram, or watching YouTube videos, our portable distraction devices put a wall between us and the people who actively want to be a part of our lives. The tool created as a utility to make our lives easier has simultaneously hindered our potential to be present and in the moment with the people closest to us.

Respect the relationships you have by resisting the urge to check your phone when you’re with the people you care about. You might be surprised how much more satisfying the interaction is.

Stop the small talk

Small talk is the death of meaningful human connection. Instead of talking about the weather, sports teams or celebrities, allow yourself to be genuinely curious about the person you’re interacting with. Everyone has a different background with a unique story to share.

Ask questions. Be curious. Not only will you form a deeper connection with the person, but you’ll probably end up learning something new. Don’t waste your time or theirs by talking about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

Provide help

In a world where so many people are afraid to ask for help when they really want or need it, being attentive can go a long way in forming a solid connection. Whether it is with a friend, co-worker, romantic partner or family member, being of service to the people we interact with adds value to the relationship. Not only will it improve the tone of the relationship, but you’ll also probably feel happy you were able to be of service to someone.

Not only should you look for ways to help the people around you, also learn how to accept help without a fuss. Put away your pride when someone reaches out to help — it is doing as much good for them as it is for you.

As much as we’d like to believe we can do it all on our own, we need quality human connection to be happy, healthy people. Let’s make 2017 a fulfilling, happy year.