02 Jan Want to be happier this year? Mental health experts share their resolutions for a less-divisive, healthier 2020
via NBC News by Nicole Spector
It’s that time of year, aka, the start of a new one, when we assess areas of our life we’d like to improve and determine to make a change. Of course, we’re talking about New Year’s resolutions, a tradition that tends to get a bit of a bad rap because such promises to ourselves can be difficult to keep.
NBC News BETTER has previously consulted psychologists to learn how we can best align with our New Year resolutions, highlighting tactics such as utilizing your brain’s reward system, eliminating environmental triggers and getting social support. This year, we’re taking a more personal approach by talking with over a dozen therapists to learn what resolutions they’re setting for 2020, and how they intend to stick to them.
Here’s what they shared. I recommend breaking out a box of tissues along with that champagne; these goals get deep!
1. Find moments of peace daily — and consider a ‘resolution’ buddy
“My resolution is to look for ways to be less busy overall, but also less busy within each day,” says Mary Rourke, a psychologist and the Director of Widener University’s Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology. “I am aiming to slow down, be more intentional in every moment, and try to find moments of peace in each day. These are things I recommend often to clients, and things I strive to do myself (when I stop to think about it). My resolution is to build in ways each day to stop and think about it, and hopefully do it more consistently. Not sure yet how I will stick to this resolution — I am considering enlisting the help of a ‘resolution buddy’ — someone who shares my goal and with whom I can have regular brief check-ins to discuss how we are both doing.”
2. Pursue joy over happiness
“I have two resolutions for the new year,” says Monte Drenner, a licensed mental health counselor. “First, pursue being joyful over being happy. This goal is important because joy is a constant delight whereas happy is brief and circumstantial. The second goal is to be more content which is continual satisfaction rather than getting my emotional state from my surroundings. [My resolutions] are related, which will help me be successful. My desire is for my emotional state to be dictated by more meaningful things in life rather than the momentary annoyances. Growth in one area will help dictate growth in the other. I plan on sticking to them by meditating on them daily as well as directing my reading and listening materials towards these topics.”
3. Treat time like money — on a budget
“The way I budget my money will be the outline on how I budget my time,” says Shannon Battle, a licensed professional counselor. “I can always make more money but I can’t make more time. You either maximize it or lose it. If you invested in your education you made sacrifices that deserve to be remunerated. Next time somebody wants to pick your brain send them an appointment, invite with an invoice attached.”
4. Be mindful of media consumption
“While I do a good job on carefully selecting food and relationships that nurture me, I can definitely improve the quality of the media allowed into my psyche,” says Paul L. Hokemeyer, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Since the 2016 election, I have been pulled into the hostility, vulgarity and division that has come to define American politics. This consumption has left me feeling anxious, depressed, angry and at times plagued by fear. Moving forward, I’m resolving to only consume media that supports the narrative of empathy, compassion and understanding — traits that we need more of in our individual psyches, our relationships, our families and our country.”
5. Become aware of resistance to change
“I don’t make New Year’s resolutions to do something new; however, the New Year does offer me an opportunity to let go of what no longer serves me,” says Dr. James S. Gordon, MD, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Mind-Body Medicine. “This year, what I’d like to let go of is my resistance to change. How do I personally plan to stick with this? By paying attention. When I pay attention, I am aware of my resistance to change [experiencing]:
- A tightening in my body.
- A narrowing of my understanding.
- A tinge of defensiveness in my voice.
This awareness will help me contribute to the process of accepting change by simply using these symptoms of resistance as cues to relax and remember that change is in the order of nature.”
6. Practice more gratitude
“In this crazy, busy world, it seems far too easy to move onto what’s next on my to-do list without savoring what I’ve just completed,” says Sharon Saline, a psychologist. “I’m planning to write three good things about each day in my journal before bed so I can focus more on the positive and derive greater satisfaction from my days..
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