It’s that time where we make promises to ourselves that we will be better people next year. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be lofty; it’s better to create gradually increasing goals and take things one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so the best resolutions are the simplest. Here are some small ways to be a better you!
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is focusing on better health and fitness. While we may have specific goals, it’s always best to focus on feeling happy and comfortable, and most of all, find what works for you that’s FUN! Check out ways to get moving and feel happy in your body.
Known as “The Bootcamp,” NYC fitness group The Rise is more than just an early-morning workout group. Meeting around the city several times a week, these fitness advocates are also a support network for each other, as socialization is encouraged to build bonding and motivation. The tenets of this group emphasize the importance of community, and working to make all members feel welcomed with an open spirit geared towards total body positivity.
For something more cerebral, you can center your body and mind at Laughing Lotus with Manhattan Sideways in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood. Whether you want to get limber or just looking for a better way to relax and focus your energies, yoga is great for meditation and helping you listen to your body’s needs. Studies show you can reduce pain, high blood pressure, build strength and get a better night’s sleep through yoga. So get stretching!
We don’t always have the funds to help others in need but we can give back by donating our time and effort. If you’re looking to fulfill your New Year’s resolution by being a better Samaritan, learn more about ways you can get involved locally that will impact a community, but best of all, brighten another person’s day. Seeing the smile on someone’s face always makes the work worth it!
The Great Recession of 2007 did not spare NYC, and alongside stagnant wages and increased rents, the city’s homeless population has only grown since then. With a dire lack of affordable housing, many people are finding themselves with nowhere to turn as shelters burst at the seams with people in need. Places like Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church are one of many local organizations that open their doors to provide care and sustenance for the dispossessed. Volunteers like Philip have made his service at the church part of their routine, preparing balanced meals for individuals and families trying to get back on their feet. NYXT.nyc has dedicated content focused on encouraging people to give back to their communities. Watch more to get inspired to help in your neighborhood.
Overwhelmed by climate change and looking to do your part to reduce pollution and your carbon footprint? Environmentalists unite! Meet the cleanup crew for the Bronx River who put in a lot of elbow grease into making New York City green. In partnership with the Bronx River Alliance, NYC Parks Department, Con Edison, REI Foundation, Partnership For Parks, Friends of Soundview Park, I Fish NY, and The Point CDC, NYXT partner Futuro Media Group chronicled the young volunteers who devote their time to cleaning up this waterway, and in the process, developed a strong bond to the local wildlife. In turn, cleaner rivers provide more opportunities for outdoor activities like kayaking, a welcome change of pace for the average city kid.
The illustrious Alvin Ailey Dance Theater has nurtured the talent of dancers and choreographers for nearly 60 years. While they have toured the world, the company has made its home in the heart of New York City. A mix of modern, jazz, ballet and African techniques, the company has always been home to a multiracial blend of dancers and driven by Black expression. While some of the world’s biggest talents were trained here, the theater offers a swath of classes in a multitude of styles so that any newcomer, young or not, can try their hand at kinetic communication. Dance is a fun way to get your body moving, to relax as your body becomes one with music, and learning routines enhances coordination. With so many classes to choose from, it’s worth exploring to see what suits you through their drop-in format that allows people to observe at no risk. See how much fun you can have learning hip-hop at the Ailey Extension!
The history of New York City is alive in the bricks that built it. As the tide of change washes over us as time goes on, nothing will pave over the spirit of the people who cultivated NYC’s unique pastiche of cultures. There are many preservationists hard at work fighting to conserve landmarks that were once vital social and political touchstones. New York can’t grow unless we understand its foundation. That’s why organizations like Harlem One Stop are dedicated to their neighborhood’s past and present. Harlem is a hub so historically rich with culture, trying to absorb it all may seem overwhelming, but Harlem One Stop’s wealth of tours guided by locals make every aspect much easier to digest. Make the commitment to check out the history of NYC’s communities and take a local tour!
Another common resolution is encouraging ourselves to read more. We all want to be smarter, more informed and aware of what’s going on in the world around us. With the rise of Kindles and audiobooks, it’s become even easier to read and read more, even while we’re on the go. But in a world full of literature, it’s hard to know where to get started. The easiest solution is to go with what you know: think about things you enjoy and seek out books on that subject. Don’t be afraid to quench your curiosity and delve into something you never would’ve thought would pique your interests. Take risks with books, and don’t feel ashamed to stop reading if it’s not for you. So, need some inspiration?
Check out National Book Foundation’s award-winning authors tackling everything fiction, history, memoir, young adult, poetry and more. In 2017, George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo” won the Man Booker Prize; start with his acclaimed story collection “Tenth of December” now.
New York’s museums can be like stepping into a whole new world. The Guggenheim is a windowless architectural palace that feels like entering a futuristic spaceship. We can visit museums on Native American heritage, folk art, sex, fashion, food, money and mathematics; we’ve even had galleries devoted to Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, and the Olsen twins. Nothing is too weird or obscure for New Yorkers to put on display. While exhibits oscillate between high- and lowbrow, no one can deny that they are all informative, even if in a fascinating, train-wreck way. In its near 90-year existence, the Museum of Modern Art has become one of NYC’s most renowned institutions, displaying the works of everyone from Picasso to Tim Burton. Take in an inside view of this institution from head curator Paola Antonelli, as she sits with AIGA Design to talk about using MoMA’s power to democratize design and making art accessible for all.
Current political and social climates have galvanized thousands to speak up, take action and get involved in local and national movements. From a democracy seemingly unhinging to holding sexual abusers accountable, everyday citizens are taking a stance for their inalienable rights. While it seems like political involvement has become trendy, grassroots movements, often underground, have always shaped American politics, although the achievements of many have been nearly lost to history.
If you’re looking to take a more active role in your community or the world at large, first focus on one thing that means the most to you and where you’d like to see visible change. Seek out local organizers working towards your cause and recruit friends and family to get involved with you. If there are no local movements, start your own! Every inroad counts. Here are some ways NYXT partners are tackling systemic issues:
The downfall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein seemed to many the start of a shift where assault survivors came forth from the shadows to name abusers, and when abusers were held accountable for their actions. But survivors have been speaking out since time immemorial; they are just finally being heard. A Call To Men was formed to address and end the violence women and girls incur at the hands of men, and to reshape notions of masculinity. The goal is to cease patriarchal oppression by teaching men to see women as human, not objects. Men must take responsibility in their complicity in violence against women; learn more how this organization works to put a microphone before a silent epidemic.
The 2016 American Presidential election catalyzed citizens, women especially, to run for office. But politics has always been a circle of exclusivity wherein mostly those with money and the right connections were afforded entre. In addition, many politicians are geared towards their own self-interests, not the needs of the people, and government tends to perpetuate status quos instead of indoctrinating new blood to create change. New Leaders Council has devoted its national chapters to developing the newest generation of young women and men to become activists and leaders working towards a progressive future. Pathways to political achievement are marked with various roadblocks for newcomers, but the more you know, the better prepared you can be to overcome them. For Democratic candidates specifically looking to break into politics, strengthen the party and engage voters, get a guide from an NLC fellow now.
Sometimes the best New Year’s Resolutions are the ones to resolve to have more fun! One of NYXT’s favorite resolutions is to “be more awesome;” commit to making more time for yourself, think what makes you happy, and make plans to do something you’ve always wanted to do! Enjoying new hobbies breaks up the humdrum pace of life and reinvigorates where there was once stagnation, giving us new focus and motivation. And you may be surprised at how many free and low-cost classes are available in your neighborhood.
Take juggling, for instance! Not only is it an impressive party trick, but its benefits include increased coordination, stress relief, calisthenics, and it even makes you smarter! Instructor Jeff Mitchell began juggling as a diversion from a boring office job, and soon it opened doors for him to do something new with his life. His games center and classes in Penn Plaza are open to the public and provide relief and oasis from the workday blues. Watch and find out how you can learn a new skill for free.
Looking for family-friendly activities for fun and bonding? Check out Streetfilms’ profile of Kidical Mass, an organization that works towards making streets safer for kids, and their Halloween-themed Zombie Ride! This tour allows parents and kids to bike around their neighborhoods, and inspires kids to get moving and get to know their communities. Bikes can be individual or tandem, but either way, the aspect of exploration has an impact of young minds. There are tours for each season, as the recent Santa ride illustrates, so get inspired to grab your bicycles and see your city on two wheels!
The start of a new year always feels like a chance to begin again. There are so many ways you can turn a new leaf and discover something new about your city or yourself. And remember, have fun!
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