5 Ways to Make 2017 Better Than 2016

If you're like me, you've found 2016 to have been a challenging year. I think a lot of us are looking forward to the calendar page turning, and hoping that 2017 is happier than 2016. But wishing doesn't make it so. If 2017 is going to be better than 2016, it's up to us to make it that way. Here are some ways to do it:

Spend time in nature

You've heard me talk about this before, but it bears repeating. Nature is scientifically proven to change us in all sorts of powerful ways. From hiking to help ease obsessive thoughts, to observing trees to speed physical healing

“In 2009 a team of Dutch researchers found a lower incidence of 15 diseases—including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and migraines—in people who lived within about a half mile of green space.”

— "This is Your Brain on Nature" by David Gessner, National Geographic, January 2016

Of course, it's easy to say, "Sure, I'll spend some time in nature or whatever!" and then never do it. I find it helps me to make a commitment to myself, and then tell others for accountability purposes. In September, I challenged myself to spend 30 minutes in nature each day. It was tough, especially living in the city. Thinking about the scale of the year, I'm dialing this back to something more achievable, like an hour a week in nature. 

Go on an adventure

When I get deeply entrenched in a routine, I find it can be really hard to break out of it and try new, exciting things. Case in point: our routine in the Catskills is generally to hang around the house, working on home improvement projects, or walking around the property spying on birds. And I love that. But I also really want to try snowshoeing, but I can't seem to break out of the routine I've established and actually do it. That's a silly example, but how many like that can you think of in your life? A thing, an adventure, you really want to do, but just can't get done?

Enter the 2017 Magical Manifesting Diary, from Erthn. Creators Shannon Cox and Natalie O'Brien made this beautiful diary/planner in hopes of getting us off our butts and into the adventures we wish for.

The ladies kindly sent me a digital copy to check out, and it's lovely. I love the beautiful illustrations in this book, and the thoughtful prompts. For the magical part, the diary includes things like how to recognize signs you're on the right path, harnessing your psychic powers, and more. 

The planner format can help keep you accountable -- if you're making time for laundry, you better be making time for adventures too! From $30 (AUD) at Erthn.

Unplug a little

One important thing I learned this year was how damaging a constant onslaught of information can be. And I'm not the only one who feels this way -- Andrew Sullivan's story in New York Magazine about this topic is titled "I Used to Be a Human." And it's not just about mental health. Sullivan forced himself to disconnect for the good of his health. 

Whether you go on a digital fast like Sullivan, or you take a small step like going screen-free after 10pm, I can't really think of a good reason not to give it a try. If you need a little guidance, try this graphic from Greatist.

Waste not

2016 was a big year for KonMari -- the decluttering method even made a cameo on the Gilmore Girls reboot. While I appreciate the goal -- we could all do with less clutter, for sure -- there's something about the inherent privilege of only owning things that bring you joy that makes me feel a little icky. Like, I own lots of medical crap that brings me no joy, but I have to have it. And most people can't afford a $30, well-designed, joy-inducing toothbrush. And throwing something in the trash doesn't mean it's gone; it means it's in a landfill. Our clutter is just moving around, not disappearing.

Anyway: what if we could achieve less clutter by just wasting less? Treehugger offers great tips for producing less kitchen waste, and The Note Passer shares an easy flowchart for reducing the number of things you buy, and how to make ethical choices when you do buy something. The one I struggle with is books. I buy so. many. books. I'm making a commitment in 2017 to hang out in the library way more often.

Be kind

AKA: be altruistic, benevolent, courteous, decent, gentle, gracious, human, patient, sympathetic, or thoughtful.

Yeah. Just...yeah.

And most of all, maybe, be your brilliant, shining self. After the election, a wise person said to me: "If they hate us for who we are, we just have to be even more ourselves." It's one way to resist.