New Year New Me – A Motivation or a Toxic Trope?

I know you’re probably in the swing of the new year by now, but I thought I’d hold off a little bit with this post to see if those who set resolutions have still managed to keep to them? I always joke that I’m going to give up my New Year’s resolution for Lent. This is very hopeful that I’ve even managed to last that long!!

The practice of making New Year Resolutions has been in existence for a few centuries now, as has the idea of ‘breaking them’. It’s thought that it was a way of people who might have not been on their best behaviour to try and seek redemption come the New Year – wipe the slate clean if you will.

So, are they purely made to be broken? Maybe we’re being hard on ourselves and setting ourselves up to fail? Does this mean they can cause more harm than good?

According to the researchers John Gottman and Robert Levenson, for every negative encounter, it takes a minimum of five positive ones to counterbalance it. This is sometimes referred to as the magic 5:1 ratio. This would be the case anyway, never mind when you throw a global pandemic into the mix!

The end of year is no different. As each year comes to an end, it’s easy to think of the bad things and then hope for a better year to come. When thinking of resolutions, people have a tendency to focus on the negative and then make decisions based on this.

By making resolutions in this fashion, we’re being critical and judgemental to ourselves. And this is before the New Year has even begun! Imagine how even further critical you’ll be on yourself if you don’t stick to your resolution.

A happiness jar is just one way you can teach yourself to try and overcome this negativity bias. This is a yearlong commitment, but with big benefits.

Grab yourself a jar, the bigger the better, along with a pen and a little stack of paper. Then, whenever something nice happens, you can write it down on a piece of paper and pop it in the jar – anything and everything counts. It could be things that you are grateful for; acts of kindness you have done or received; a good book or movie you’ve read/watched; a gathering; a birth; an anniversary; promotion etc. Just seeing it fill up will make you feel great in itself.

Once New Year’s Eve arrives, you can look back on your little notes to remember all the happy, joyous things that have happened during the year. A great way to outshine the bad and show it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

And who’s to say you can only look back at your notes on New Year’s Eve? If you need a little pick me up, you could always have a little sneak peak in the jar.

Still feel like setting yourself a New Year’s Resolution? If so, please be gentle to yourself. Make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. else you’re going to fail before you’ve even begun. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

Alternatively, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it

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