Day Two into 2013 and already I am struggling to stay on track with my resolutions. Like the one about skipping dessert at lunch. After a sandwich at home I spied a plate of Christmas cookies. Lots of cookies. So I took a step to remove the temptation. Now I’m three cookies closer to ending the temptation, but three cookies farther from keeping my resolution.

James Martin, a writer for America: The National Catholic Review, suggests that all of us could enjoy a happier year if we took five easy steps—be a little kinder, relax a bit more, enjoy nature more, be a little more grateful, and pray just a tiny bit more.

For one thing, none of these costs money. One does not need to reach into one’s purse or wallet to speak a gentle word or do a thoughtful deed for another person. Nature is a remarkable, daily companion which we scarcely notice in our rush to check tasks off of our ever-present list. A male cardinal against a snowy background is worth the price of admission, which happens to be nothing. You get what I’m saying.

For another, all five of these are spiritual activities. Kindness, according to Galatians 5:22, is a fruit of the Spirit, a sure-fire sign of God’s presence working to the surface of your life. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to relax, because we cannot stretch our days by it’s opposite—worry. In the same breath, Jesus invited us to pay more attention the lilies of the field to learn a lesson from God’s creation. The Apostle Paul urged us to be grateful in everything and to pray without ceasing. See? You don’t have to go to seminary to be more religious, or lead a more fulfilling life.

Finally, a little more of each of these will make you happier because it will make you more pleasant company. People with friends tend to be happier people, and kind, calm, observant, thankful, prayerful people are the kind of persons who attract others.

Head for the Y or your Seal Team workout wearing that new sweatsuit, but if you miss a day or two, just relax, smile, take a deep breath, be grateful for the day and utter a “thank you” to the God who never leaves you. Happy new year!