Making a Meaningful New Year’s Resolution

Only a couple days post-New Years, I wasn’t too surprised to walk by extra crowded fitness centers on my way to work. I’m one of the many who has made that same resolution year after year to either workout more, eat healthier, procrastinate less, study more, etc.  All these are great ideas to try and improve your own health and well-being; and I don’t discourage that at all.  But what if we all took our yearly resolutions one step further and considered what we could do to contribute to a greater society, and a greater global community.

The first step to that is becoming aware of and gaining an understanding of the world we actually live in.  Just looking at the various ways people across the globe celebrate New Years is one tiny glimpse into the wonderful cultural differences and similarities we have with others who are thousands of miles away from us.  Think of the great impact you could make by forming relationships with new friends overseas! They could be your future co-worker, client, boss, best friend, or even spouse! Forging individual friendships with people from extremely diverse backgrounds allows both sides to appreciate and accept these differences that countries, as a whole may not recognize on a collective level.

We thought of a few more resolution ideas that could jump start your path to exploring the world and creating a goal that not only positively affects your life, but also those around you.

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1) Learn a new language! I can attest to the incredible value of knowing more than one language and being able to communicate with people who have fascinating things to say, even thought it’s not in English! Once you become comfortable with a new language, you’ll be more than eager to travel to a country where it’s spoken, so you can show off your skills and maybe even fit in as a local!

2) Bodhicitta. Bodhi-whaaa?? I had no idea what this was either until I stumbled across this amazing article that summarizes this compassionate form of meditation. My inability to sit still for more than a few minutes has made it quite difficult for me to come to terms with meditation, but it’s something that I know could create positive waves. The Dalai Lama writes, “Bodhicitta is the commitment t actually help them.”

3) Make a short-term bucket list. 2012 may be the end of the world, right? Or maybe it’s just the end of your old life. After all, I did feel like a new person after I studied abroad.  But seriously, actually writing down a list of things you wish to do with your life this year is empowering and it holds you accountable to those goals. Where do you want to travel? What do you want to see or do? Who do you want to make amends with?

4) Study Abroad! Of course we highly recommend this one! There are countless benefits to studying abroad that will undoubtedly create a new path in your life that involves incredible opportunities to meet even more diverse people and swap stories with others who have had similar experiences.  Click here to read first hand accounts of students’ life-changing times abroad.

5) Volunteer. Imagine the possibilities if everyone decided to volunteer just once a month. Start simple. Tutor kids how to read, visit a soup kitchen, help out a pet shelter, or take part in an adopt-a-highway mission.  Whatever you do, realize that as long as you do it with sincerity, you are making a difference in someone else’s life. You can find several programs on our website that are designed for volunteering abroad, and you can even receive school credit for it!

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So this year, think about making a resolution that will not only benefit your life, but will contribute to the greater good of humanity. There’s nothing to lose, and only so much to gain!