The verdict is in: New Year’s resolutions are out of style. To be fair, they should’ve gone out of style years ago, because no matter how motivating the phrase “new year, new me” sounds like, the truth is that 80% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the second week of February. But don’t beat yourself up: resolutions don’t fail because humans are lazy or serial procrastinators.
On the contrary, the fact that most of us are able to stick to our goals for a month and a half goes to show that we are capable of staying committed for extended periods. What’s problematic is that we wait until a specific date to begin bettering ourselves through vague objectives, like “losing weight” and “exercising more,” which are often based on what someone else (or society) is telling us to change, and not what we actually want to improve in our lives.
So, instead of delving deep into the toxic self-improvement cycle just like every other January, how about resolving to work with what you already have to just be a little bit happier this year? Here are 3 scientifically proven ways to find happiness in 2024 and beyond…
Most people are under the impression that kindness is about being nice to others. And there’s some truth to that; kindness is defined as the “quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” But what’s missing from that definition is the word “others,” because in order to be kind to the people around us, we must begin by being friendly and compassionate with ourselves.
Mounting research shows that people who practice self-compassion (aka, treating yourself in the same caring, kind way you would treat a friend who’s going through a tough time) are less likely to be anxious and depressed. There’s also evidence that self-compassion leads to higher personal growth and satisfaction levels, increasing your emotional resilience and your ability to move past negative emotions like shame and embarrassment.
Of course, cultivating self-compassion is easier said than done, but a good starting point, according to science, is making peace with your inner critic and stop deriving your self-worth from productivity or perfection. You can practice this by observing your mistakes mindfully and objectively.
For example, would you ever say to a friend that didn’t get a job promotion she didn’t get it because she’s stupid or doesn’t deserve it? Of course not. But, unfortunately, this is how we often talk to ourselves in such situations.
When we are mindful of our struggles, instead of engaging in self-criticism, it’s easier to see our humanity and understand that everybody makes mistakes from time to time. This year, make it a point to mitigate negative self-talk by asking yourself: “would I say this to my best friend?” If the answer’s no, chances are it’s not something you would want to say to yourself.
Enhance your social connections
If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that surrounding ourselves with the people we care about the most is the best medicine for overcoming life’s hardships. And there’s no shortage of studies to prove it. A longitudinal Harvard study that tracked participants over a span of nearly 80 years found that having satisfying social connections was the strongest and most consistent predictor of a happy life.
Very happy people are highly social and usually have robust relationships with their friends, family, spouses, or community members. And kids who grow up with a richer social network tend to grow up to be happier adults. Conversely, research shows that people who constantly feel lonely have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and are more likely to die prematurely.
The new year is the perfect time to assess the state of your relationships and take steps to foster meaningful connections with the people around you. Some ways you can achieve this include signing up for a class or activity in your community, reaching out to old friends and family members you’ve lost contact with, and saying “yes” more often, instead of shying away from social events or plans that are outside of your comfort zone.
Spend more time in nature
Whether it means going out for a walk or sitting in your backyard sipping a cup of tea, being outdoors offers an incredible amount of mind and body benefits. For starters, fresh air contains higher oxygen levels, which helps dilate blood vessels in the lungs and promotes cellular regeneration. Spending time in the great outdoors has also been shown to improve immunity and help your body fight off infections faster.
Psychologically, being out in nature can result in meaningful improvements to your mental health and lowers your risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. Studies show that people’s brains have more serotonin (aka the happy hormone) on bright and sunny days, regardless of the temperature itself.
Stepping outside is also the best antidote against technology burnout and doomscrolling, the tendency of compulsively scrolling through news and content that’s depressing or concerning, and a behavior that’s become so ubiquitous during the pandemic. The human brain was not made for this kind of information overload, and it can lead to mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, and isolation.
Being out in nature can help us reset our brains and establish a connection with something bigger than ourselves (and our phones). The beauty of nature, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, elicits positive emotions by inspiring awe and a sense of belonging that’s impossible to find outside the real world.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2024!
Akeso Health Sciences
Helping you get well and stay well is our bottom line! Akeso Health Sciences formulates world class dietary supplements that provide nutritional support for the most common health issues that concern people most, such as migraines, headaches, joint health, stress & anxiety, memory, sleeplessness, ADHD, and more. Changing lives is the reasons we wake up every day passionate about the special products we provide to our customers.
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