About the Post

Author Information

Karen Datangel is a communications specialist, writer, connector, sports enthusiast (Go SF Giants, 49ers, and Warriors), and philanthropy-minded extroverted introvert. Born, bred, and based in the Bay Area, Karen graduated with a degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University. Her writing/media resume includes contributions to and internships with Hollywood Life, CAAMFest (Formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival), Audrey Magazine (Now part of Character Media), Bustle, Fandom, SheKnows, and POPSUGAR. She now focuses mostly on social media and communications in various industries, currently working as the Public Relations Assistant with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and having worked previously at Salesforce and Google. Outside of work, she is an active member of the Spinsters of San Francisco.

25 Ways to Feel Happier and Be Fearless in 2013

Image Credit: Camdiluv / from Flickr, part of Creative Commons

Image Credit: Camdiluv / from Flickr, part of Creative Commons

It’s January, and so starts a new year; so does a new year equal a new you? Don’t even question it anymore: 2013 should be your year. The start of a new 365-day cycle gives us a clean slate to start all over, make amends, achieve our goals, and fulfill our wishes. We make resolutions after the stroke of midnight on December 31st, but three weeks in (AKA this very moment!), we may have already started eating junk food again or going off-tangent when it comes to our daily tasks.

Personally, that’s why I stopped keeping resolutions. But I know that this year, I have to make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen, and that will involve taking risks and facing my fears. In August, I will celebrate a milestone birthday when I turn 25 and there is absolutely no way I am letting another year go by and feel empty by the things I didn’t do.

That’s why I put together this list of 25 small and big ways we all can make our lives better in 2013. Some of these have been tried and true for me; others are a part of my to-do list for the year. I challenge you all to take the jump and do one, some, or all of these things. There’s no time like right now to try something new. Be fearless. Feel happy. Make this year unexpectedly amazing.

1. Make a YouTube video. You don’t have to be an aspiring director or film editor and spend hours on Final Cut Pro. It can be as something as simple as a vlog (video blog) shot from your iPhone about your day or commentary about the latest awards show or big sports broadcast. It can be as something as silly as playing with your cat (Seriously, who doesn’t love a good cat video?) or something as self-deprecating as dancing to the successor of “Call Me Maybe.” The world just wants to see your pretty face (Or your cat’s)!

2. Clean up your social networks. Deactivate your Facebook or Instagram if you’ve been meaning to. Delete or unfollow those folks whose names you no longer recognize or those folks who strike a nerve with their constant or highly entitled statuses. Create lists and actually use them. Ensure that you are sharing with the people you want and that you are limiting what you share with the rest of the world.

3. Start a new TV series and finish it. Instant streaming on Netflix is so worth it—pay for an account. It’s only $8 a month in the US. Commit a few hours a week or marathon for an entire weekend to watch what people are raving about, or a cult classic that shouldn’t have gone off-the-air after a season or two. My recommendations? Breaking Bad and Arrested Development. Always. Breaking Bad ends this summer and Arrested Development will be revived exclusively on Netflix in the spring, so no better time to start than right now!

4. Go explore the arts… Go to a museum or see an author read from their latest book. Check out the symphony or the ballet. Come and see a touring company of a hot Broadway show. Even checking out a local high school or a small theater company’s production would do it. If you don’t have a venue close to you, then make it a road trip! Everyone loves music, everyone loves looking at pretty things, everyone loves a good show. Experience and appreciate them all in new ways (And you can mean it when you tell people you’re cultured!).

5. And go to more sporting events too. Even if you absolutely hate sports, even if you absolutely hate it when your friends blab about it, you need to take up on offer from them to go to a football/baseball/basketball/soccer/hockey game with them. Or hell, just any sport! The energy is electric like no other, and who knows—maybe you’ll go away with a new admiration for the game. If you’re a huge sports fan but have mostly stuck to watching them on TV, free up your weekend and head over to StubHub for some cheap seats.

6. Enjoy the outdoors. Take a hike…and I mean that in a good way. Go fishing with your pops. Take up kayaking or white-water rafting. Instead of driving, get around on your bike for one day. Give up one of your three planned trips to Vegas and go camping instead. Being in touch with nature is good for your health and soothing for your soul.

7. Go out more by yourself. Seriously, don’t be afraid to go to dinner, a movie, or even a concert alone. Personally, I have to roll my eyes at people who miss out on good things just because no one wanted to go with them. Maybe it’s just that I’m so used to doing so-called “social” activities solo about 70 percent of the time. But I think it’s wonderful and more people should do it and feel wonderful doing it. Doing things alone gives you a chance to reflect on what’s in front of you and what’s around you, instead of being distracted by someone ranting to you about something totally pointless (Come on, you’ve totally thought about that at least once in your life!). Just do it, and ignore the insecure who might judge you for it.

8. Take an enrichment class. Salsa dancing? Playing the guitar? Bartending? Photography? If you’ve ever wanted to try one of these things or take up on another hobby or simply enhance your skills in another subject area, sign up for a one-time seminar or a weekly class. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial run local deals so you can register for these classes at a great value. You can also check with specialized schools in your area, as well as your local parks and recreation department for availability. Not only will you feel fulfilled by learning and getting hands-on experience, but the social setting is a great way to meet new people.

9. Sing karaoke. Go to a karaoke bar and belt out your best rendition of a Journey song, or “I Will Survive,” or something by Katy Perry. You don’t have to be a good singer—that’s the great thing about karaoke! Just sing the words on the screen as you please or make them up as you go along. If you feel uncomfortable singing in front of strangers, round up a group of friends and book a private room for your birthday party this year, or just because. Go to Yelp and see what cool bars are near you!

10. Cook. Eating out can be a huge blow to your wallet over time, but cooking your own food allows you to conserve, as well as control what goes in your meals. It’s also a craft and you’ll impress your loved ones and yourself by creating your own or putting your own spin to recipes. Pick up a good old-fashioned cookbook or search blogs or Pinterest for some ideas. Then make a trip to the grocery store and prepare to make a date with your kitchen (Followed by a real date in your dining room!)!

11. Mix some drinks. If you or a friend is planning on holding a house party anytime soon, offer to be the bartender. You don’t necessarily have to have an entire shelf full of liquor. Grab a few basic recipes off the Internet (I’m a vodka person, so I usually get mine from Smirnoff‘s website), buy the ingredients, and treat folks to some surprise cocktails. There’s always a perfect and easy one to make for every occasion. Just make sure there are some designated drivers in the house and that you follow all alcoholic proportions accordingly. Cheers!

12. Change your look. Cut and color your hair. Get a tattoo. Wear a dress and boots one day instead of your usual t-shirt and jeans. Dare to make a bold style statement with or without a long-term commitment. Switching it up will make you feel more confident in your own skin and turn some heads too!

13. Get saucy. Embrace your inner wild child. It can be something as low-key as wearing cuter underwear or going to a strip club or sex shop for the first time, or something as totally risque as making love somewhere out of any house, hotel room, or apartment. Of course, only go as far as you feel comfortable and always use protection, because I am not responsible for any of you if you go to jail or if you catch an STD.

14. Keep a blog/journal. With the constantly evolving landscape of the Internet and the convenience of technology, lives are now open books. Why not expand on your Facebook posts and Tweets and keep a record of your day-to-day by registering a blog? You don’t necessarily have to write just about your life—you can also provide commentary on current events, share your wisdom and expertise on your subjects of choice, or even just post your photos. If you’re not keen on the idea of airing out your laundry for all the world to see, most blogging platforms will allow you to make your site private. If you’d like to kick it old-school, grab any old notebook and jot down your thoughts that way. Blogging and journaling are ways to go if you need to free your mind, and they can help you put any external or internal conflicts in perspective.

15. Write more letters, just because. An upside of technology is that anyone can type a wall post, Tweet, or email or send a text. A downside of technology is that anyone can type a wall post, Tweet, or email or send a text. Whatever happened to the good old days of thank-you notes, love letters, and pen pals? Next time you go on a job interview, hand-write an actual thank-you note to the HR manager and send it by snail mail. Tell your sweetheart you love them, on a dinner napkin. Go back to the middle school or high school days of passing notes back and forth with your best friend. People will appreciate the time, thought, and effort you put into writing your notes because they know they’re personalized.

16. Travel. It can be a road trip to the other side of your state, or it can be a journey to the other side of the world. Get out of your city and explore some place new. Or even go back to a place you’ve been to before. Don’t let money become an issue: Join the mailing lists of top-notch airlines like Virgin America, JetBlue, and Southwest to receive alerts on some amazing deals. If you don’t want to fly, check out the Megabus, which takes you to major cities in your region at incredibly low prices.

17. Pay off your outstanding debts. Put aside some money every week to get pay off your credit card debt or student loans. No one wants that cloud hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. Then you can start saving up again to treat yourself to a new car or that dream vacation!

18. Check out networking events. Not all Facebook event invites are to be ignored. If it’s related to something in your desired field—a mixer, a conference, a seminar—say ‘yes.’ Even better, join and subscribe to some LinkedIn groups most relevant to your line of work and check out their upcoming events. Get a pack of business cards printed out and bring a few to give to the folks you meet. You never know what connections you’ll make. Perhaps they can even help you…

19. Get your dream job. Networking will be valuable to get you where you want to go, but you have to do so much more than that: You have to write those cover letters, polish that resume, follow through, and nail them interviews. It’s a tough economy, but you have to try. You may have to absolutely stay in your current job for your personal reasons, but if it’s not what you want, at least don’t be afraid to explore your options. Maybe it involves continuing your education, maybe it involves moving to a new city. Maybe it involves branding yourself or building your own business from the ground up. Don’t sell yourself short; you have incredible potential. It’s time to unleash it.

20. Hang out outside your regular social circle. You’re still connected with your old classmates and old co-workers somehow, or maybe you’ve met other people through friends and really clicked with them but haven’t seen them in a while. Ask them to come grab a drink with you and catch up on the last few months or years and reminisce on your good old times together. Perhaps your newfound bond will open up a space for them in your closest-knit group, or at least you can see each other more regularly.

21. Cut out the negativity…Some “friends” just don’t seem like they really are, aren’t they? You begin to realize that they may not be decent people, or that they always cause drama, or that somehow everything is all about them. It’s going to be a tough thing to do, but you have to let them go. You don’t deserve to be with people who bring you down rather than lift you up.

22. But feel free to forgive. Or be the first to apologize. Then again, there may be some people we were terrible to, some people that we hurt for reasons that now seem petty. Or there may be some people who did us wrong and are ready to admit it. You can free yourselves from a heavy weight and exhale if you forgive or admit your mistakes. If the person on the receiving end still feels hurt, know that you did one thing right by saying you’re sorry.

23. If you’re attached, take the next step in your relationship. Move in together. Get a dog. Maybe you can get married? Hell, just make that relationship Facebook official already! I don’t know; I’m not attached. But you’re one-half with a great guy or girl next to you and you need to embrace what you’ve got, because the rest of us are still searching for that special someone.

24. If you’re single, tell your crush how you feel (Or at least talk to them already). If we told random attractive folks on the street that we think they’re hot, then we’d be labeled as “creepers.” That’s why the Missed Connections section on Craigslist exists for people like us. But no doubt that we’ve been in settings where we do see good-looking and fascinating people and want to talk to them: bars, clubs, house parties. They’re not going to like you back if you just stand there and stare; go up to them, say hello, talk about the music that’s playing or about the game on TV, and take it from there. Isn’t it time that you stay away from that part of the CL after all?

25. Face whatever scares you the most. It could be anything on this list, but it’s likely something that’s not on here. I can throw out a few examples though: How about riding a roller coaster? Seeing a gory movie on your To-Watch list? Or my personal fear: driving a damn car? Whatever you fear—even if it seems stupid to everyone else—stare at it in the face and conquer it. Do that, and you can do anything.

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  1. Welcome to My Quarter-Life Crisis | Karen On - April 29, 2013

    […] on doing, like basically everything I wrote about in this piece for The Hudsucker in January called 25 Ways to Feel Happier and Be Fearless. Eventually, it’s up to me to get out of the pool of self-pity and just do them all […]

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