7 little ways to be a brighter person.

We made it through the first full week of the year! In the Midwest, we’re dealing with sub-zero temperatures and wind chill advisories – making it pretty hard to get motivated in the morning. Let me guess: you haven’t made it to the gym every day this week. You didn’t give up sugar because you found some leftover chocolate from your stocking. You haven’t even started reading a new book to meet your 10-a-month goal. Making these specific resolutions can make it easy to feel discouraged about your New Year progress, so instead I’m offering you some small goals that you can achieve any time this year and on any schedule. You’ll feel brighter {and brighten others}. Just try these simple ways:


1)      Wear one clothing item or accessory outside your comfort zone.

We all have that friend who rocks bold lipstick or oozes style with her over-the-knee boots. If you admire a look on someone else, why are you worried you’ll look ridiculous? Give that top knot a try or swing a circle skirt. Try it in a setting where you know you’ll be comfortable and just go for it. Not only will it be fun, but you’ll feel accomplished for taking a chance.

2)      Send a thank you note.

This one is easy after the holidays – let someone know how much you appreciated her card or gift! Gratitude is still great via an emoji-filled text, but it is extra special when delivered to your real life mailbox. Even better: send a note to a friend or relative just to thank them for playing a role in their life. Who doesn’t love a little snail mail? Plus, it’s a great excuse to get some new stationery.

3)      Call your grandma.

Or your mom. Or your college roommate that lives in Boston. Here again, the emoji text is nice, but how much better is it to hear someone’s voice once in awhile? Even 10 minutes will truly brighten a day. Plus, now your grandma will have some new material when bragging about her grandchild to the bridge group.

4)      Don’t take a picture.

I admit: I’m a total Instagram addict. I love seeing the beautiful snaps in my feed and binging on all the imagery. But, it hurts my soul when I see a group out to dinner and everyone is on their phones or spending 20 minutes getting photos of every combination of people at the table. Now, I totally get wanting to document moments or capture the most beautiful sushi presentation you’ve seen. I simply challenge you to have one outing where you have such great conversation that you forget you even have a phone.

5)      Write down one thing you’re thankful for every day for a week.

Nightly gratitude journal for 365 days? Way too daunting. Knowing you have to do it for just a week seems much more doable. If that’s all you do, you’ll have a list of seven things you can look back at and feel gratitude all over again. Or, maybe, you’ll be inspired to write something down more often without the pressure of missing a day.

6)      Find 5 items in your house to donate.

Every once in awhile, I reach a boiling point and want to get rid of crap in my house or my closet. I sort through long-ignored clothes, overflowing closets, and sometimes even the mystery piles under the bed. Filling up a bag of things that are cluttering my life but could be part of someone else’s is a lovely feeling. Give that vase that’s tired of hibernating a chance to see daylight, and let that sweater that never really fit well hug someone else. It’s a great cleanse without all that questionable green juice.

7)      Forgive yourself for something.

We all have things, both big and small, that we feel badly about. It could be something you always come back to and get mad at yourself about, or something small that happened recently that you can’t shake. Let that sh*t go. Maybe you didn’t speak up about your accomplishments at work, were passed over for a promotion, and now are mad at yourself. Maybe you forgot to give your hair stylist a Christmas gift and are feeling guilty. Big or small, dwelling on the past will get you nowhere.  Learn, forgive yourself, and move forward.

You don’t have to do something monumental or measurable to be a better human. It’s all the little things that make us brighter.