One-Word Theme Ideas for 2022

Array of rustic, used stamps arranged on rusted surface

At the beginning of a new year, many of us look for ways to make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative in the months ahead.

I love these kinds of exercises, so for 2022, I: made new year’s resolutions, joined the yearly challenge—this year, to “#Rest22in22,” and made a “22 for 22″ list

There’s another kind of exercise I love: identifying one idea, summarized in just one word or phase, as the overarching theme for the coming year.

My sister Elizabeth and I have been doing this for years. Some of our choices:

  • Elizabeth: “Free Time,” “Style,” “Hot Wheels,” “Novel,” “Home,” “Control,” “#6,” “Lighter,”  “Butterfly,” and for 2022, “Step.”
  • Gretchen: “Upgrade,” “Bigger,” “Lighten Up,” “Re-purpose,” “Delegate,” “Infrastructure,” “Growth,” “Open,” and for 2022, “Salt.”


In episode 358 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, we talked about the one-word theme and suggested that listeners choose a theme for 2022. We’ve heard so many brilliant ideas!

  • Breathe
  • Intention
  • Shine
  • Play
  • Reverie
  • Priorities
  • Pepper (I got a kick out of this, given that my word is “Salt”)
  • Action
  • Higher/Hire
  • Evaluate
  • Present
  • Flex
  • Embrace
  • Restoration
  • Recharge
  • Clear
  • Clear Away
  • Honest
  • Green
  • Dragon
  • Now
  • Done
  • Present (be present and give a gift to yourself)
  • More
  • Health
  • Peace
  • Rhythm
  • Renaissance


On episode 363 of Happier, we talk about responses from listeners about why they chose the words they chose.

Have you chosen a one-word theme for the year? I’m endlessly fascinated by the themes people choose, and why.

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