The Emotional Dimension of New Year’s Resolutions

 — Commit to feel better, be more positive — be in control. —

Whether we are happy, content and/or fulfilled can be affected by our physical conditions. But in the end, these mental states are emotions, deep and intense feelings that form spontaneously or in response to events.

We can often increase the likelihood of positive emotions by increasing activities and relationships that make us feel good and decreasing activities and relationships that make us feel bad. Thus, as part of making a personal New Year strategic plan, it’s wise to assess the quality of your emotional life, asking yourself what you would like to see more of or less of. Once you’ve identified the things that will enhance your happiness, you can devise resolutions and specific implementation strategies. A strategic plan may call for spending more time with children or grandchildren or with enjoyable activities like reading, vacationing and recreational activities.

But, as important as it is to exercise more thoughtful control over the experiences that generate emotions, we can do even more to improve our lives by adopting positive attitudes such as enthusiasm, optimism and gratitude.

Resolve to be less cynical. Assume the best, not the worst, especially of co-workers and family members who may be in your life. Consciously resist temptations to see the world through dark lenses.

Finally, note that pursuing fulfillment involves more than having fun and experiencing pleasure. Look for opportunities this year to make a significant long-term, positive impact on the lives of others. The best way to feel good is to be good.


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