Based on what we heard last year, we incorporated several ideas into our wellness resolutions for 2024 — accessible, natural notions that are sure to make us much better people.
Here’s how we’ve framed our 2024 resolutions to add luster to our well-being:
We’re resolved to habituate creativity because of what we learned about how it can improve happiness, well-being, and physical and mental health.
The possibilities are plenty: color, cook, dance, draw, knit, paint, sew, sculpt, whittle, write, etc. But for our purposes, we like the concepts of Professor Susan Magsamen out of John Hopkins University School of Medicine, as reported in “Eight Ways to Live Longer You’ve Probably Never Linked to Health.” They make a good case for art paving the road to wellness: Music, literature, craft and sensory stimulation may help us live better longer.
Therefore, our 2024 resolutions include humming, favorite-tunes playlists, more gardening, and visiting art galleries (and their gift shops).
Two studies published last year revealed that “seeing or hearing birds could be good for our mental well-being.” That is, observing birds — including listening to brief recordings of birdsongs — reduces “feelings of anxiety, depression and paranoia.”
The studies also showed that even in urban areas with reduced access to the wild — and where “traffic noise worsened symptoms of depressive states”— birds brought nature nearer, with soaring benefits.
We recall a rare good memory from the early days of the pandemic. When traffic abruptly stopped and the world fell eerily still, the songs of birds filled the silence. Thank you, birds. We’re still listening.
How many sunsets have we seen by now? Even so, there’s “nothing like a sunset to stop you in your tracks.” It turns out that awe-inspiring sunsets and sunrises and almost every other beautiful thing pays wellness dividends — improving mood, increasing positive emotions and reducing stress.
The reason is this: The benefits of awe shift attention away from the self. “Awe surfaces a social truth, that our identities are always in relation to larger systems of life, be it a history of a people, a culture, a social movement, a community, an ecosystem, a political idea, a genre of music or a spiritual lineage.”
Anne Lamott wrote, “That is the perennial instruction: Look up! Looking up gives us freedom and causes the shadows to slip right down our backs.”
In a recent conversation with a disappointed friend — they left a position they long served exceptionally well — we thought of the aphorism we were taught years ago. It’s wisdom from cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, and we’re keeping it top of mind:
Life will be simple if we practice four basic principles:
- Show up or choose to be present,
- Pay attention to what has heart and meaning,
- Tell the truth without blame or judgment, and
- Be open, rather than attached to, the outcome.
Like many, we used the beginning of the year to make resolutions. This year, yes, we made sure included creativity, birds, awe and simplicity on our lists because of what we read last year. But we’ve grown too old, frankly, for tracking resolutions annually. If we pass before 2024 ends, we’ll have no idea whether we succeeded with our resolutions.
That’s why ours are daily resolutions. They’re reaffirmed on waking and reviewed when our heads hit the nighttime pillows. And if we slip up, we won’t wait a year to start over. We start again tomorrow.
Mildred & Val are long-time Rally friends with something to say about aging.