New Year’s the most wonderful time for self-help lists again. (Who’re we kidding? Of course, we need them. 2017 was rough). Perhaps you’ve already scribbled down your goals and resolutions this year—regimens to add for a productive day, places to go, activities to try. But how about cutting some habits and mindsets to make room for more meaningful ones?
Feeling entitled to your opinion
We’re always told that we can say anything because we have the right to. This is the favorite defense of those who get criticized (and rightly so) for their uninformed notions. But hear Philosophy lecturer Patrick Stokes out with this gospel:
If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven.
But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.
So next time you hear someone declare they’re entitled to their opinion, ask them why they think that. Chances are, if nothing else, you’ll end up having a more enjoyable conversation that way.
Not sleeping enough
It’s a no-brainer that undersleeping is detrimental to health. Not getting enough shuteye and a long demanding day a few hours after is a formula for a sluggish you. And being unhealthy’s not on your New Year’s resolution list, is it?
So try to fit every task that needs to be accomplished in 16 hours—make sure you get eight hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping, we’ve listed a few tips for you to try including using a weighted blanket. Eliminate unproductive activities that make you stay up at night and focus on your well-being. Pulling an all-nighter isn’t and has never been cool.
Avoiding small talk
To be honest, I’m afraid of risking a conversation with strangers. Small talk isn’t my strongest suit—I’d rather be a wallflower at a party and talk to a few people I’m familiar with. I already know I’m awkward; others don’t have to know about it.
However, going out of our comfort zone and trading solitude to painful quick chats on weather and traffic have startling emotional benefits. In a study conducted by a behavioral science professor and a psychologist, they found out that interacting with strangers brings more positive experience than silence.
“People systematically misunderstand the consequences of social connection, mistakenly thinking that isolation is more pleasant than connecting with a stranger when the benefits of social connection actually extend to distant strangers as well,” the researchers said. We’re social animals after all.
Fear of missing out or FOMO
It’s easy to get trapped in the endless pit of Instagram stories and feeds of people you follow on the social media app. You see the amazing activities they do in the form of scenic curated photos and you may hear yourself muttering, I need to do go there and do that, too.
That wishing right there, is FOMO, motivated not by the satisfaction of experiencing something new, but by fear of not experiencing something new. And we need to save ourselves from this self-invented misery. Just because your friend seems to be enjoying this new bar, you would have the same experience, too. Maybe, but that’s not the right decision-making process to spend your precious time and money with.
We just need to live with the fact that we’re always going to miss out on something. But that missing out may mean that we’re doing something better, not just during an exciting trip. Prized experiences come in different forms anyway, Instagrammable or not.
Living only for yourself
While it’s necessary to take care of yourself, a little concern for other people, the environment, and country won’t hurt, too. Considering volunteering this year? Here’s a list of where you can do it. Planning to consume less by reusing items? Here are shops that upcycle.
The world can be cruel and our empathy for anything other than ourselves may not be reciprocated, but know that the society needs some noble loving. Like what Max Ehrmann wrote in Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” And one of the avenues of joy in life is living for yourself AND others.
Header image courtesy of Unsplash