This New Year's Resolution Could Keep You Happier

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Plenty of online skeptics are warning us to remember that 2021 will likely bear a strong resemblance to 2020. At midnight on New Year's Eve, everything that's bothered us about the past year won't magically evaporate or get better. Sure, we know that — but the ceremony of casting off the old in favor of new possibilities is just irresistible for so many of us.

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One psychologist from the University of Rochester thinks he's got a simple yet far-reaching suggestion for how you can help yourself be happier in the new year. Researcher Richard Ryan knows better than most that the majority of our resolutions to dramatically change ourselves on Jan. 1 will fail. That said, he believes focusing on altruism and helping others can supply a big boost to your stick-to-it-ness.

"Most of these midnight resolutions look more like pressure coming from the outside — an attempt to look better, relieve guilt, or meet the standards of others," he noted. "If the goal is one that is not 'authentic' and not really coming from your own values or interests, the energy for it fades fast."

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His career led him to some dramatic findings about happiness in general. "We discovered that your happiness increases as your focus of concern and care gets wider," Ryan said. By caring about more people and larger communities, your personal wellbeing can get a leg up.

Whatever you choose to focus on, remember that your behavioral changes from early January may not truly stick until early March. And if you're looking to reform your financial habits, there's no time like the present to start planning.

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