For many, the New Year represents transitions and hopes – we dream of new beginnings that will make us happier, we hope for changes that will make us healthier, or perhaps we long for meaning that will make life better.
We are often guided by the ever present assumption that we should do more and better – always adding things to our To Do lists. Oh, you ran 20km? Good job! Now let’s aim for 40km! Setting new goals can be motivating, but it seems we rarely take time to sit down and feel a sense of completion, or an awareness of accomplishment. If we never really feel done, how do we ever experience sense of satisfaction in life? And if we don’t experience that, what are we chasing after, really?
Positive psychologists studying happiness explained our constant chase for achievements/happiness as the result of hedonic adaptation – our ability to get used to good or bad events, with the passage of time (Positive Psychology Program, 2016). This means that, no matter how good or bad the things that have happened to you, you’ll get over it. The beautiful view out of your bedroom, the euphoric feeling from driving your new car, or anything that made the experience exciting eventually becomes your everyday reality.
We then proceed with assumption that we needed more to sustain the positive feelings and find ourselves caught in the loop of chasing rainbow ends. Perhaps it is time we turn our heads and look elsewhere.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of “The How of Happiness” described contentment as one of the key elements as part of the experience of happiness (Greatergood.org., n.d.). This year, before you move on to hope for better year ahead and start listing your New Year Resolutions, let’s pause.
# Pause to celebrate and reflect on all that you have accomplished over the year – be it big or small. Celebrate the situations and challenges you have made it through.
# Pause to count your blessings.
# Pause to build relationships. Make time for those closest to you.
# Pause to get rest. We ought to make time for ourselves, and know when to say enough.
In this coming year, let us be one step closer to sustainable goals and happiness. Happy New Year.