Psychology Around the Net: December 31, 2016

Red Golden Blue Fireworks Over Night Sky

Happy New Year, sweet readers!

For a variety of understandable reasons, I know many of you are glad to see 2016 end.

The other night, I was talking (ranting) to my beau about how horrible this year has been and how I can’t wait for it to end because it just can’t get any worse when — BOOM! — common sense knocked me right upside the noggin mid-sentence.

  1. Sure, some bad things have happened, but so have some good. I am sad some of my favorite actors and musicians died. I am elated none of my family and friends died.
  2. Yes, it can get worse. The world didn’t end. As long as you’re still alive, you can find — or create — some happiness for yourself and for others.
  3. Every year brings its own mix of good and bad. When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2017, trust and believe that a whole new mix of good and bad awaits. Happiness, joy, success, misery, disappointment, defeat — none of them rely on our piddly little time system to make their arrival.

Ah, perspective.

With that in mind, let’s dive into some of this week’s latest on the why we need to stop saying 2016 was the worst year ever, the role your brain plays in sabotaging resolutions, what you should look for when you travel memory lane (and why), and more!

Stop Saying That 2016 Was the ‘Worst Year’: Max Roser, an economist and media critic at the University of Oxford, explains why “Americans have such a negative view,” basically pointing the finger at a lack of knowledge about the changing world due to current media structure (i.e. focusing on negative news as quickly as possible) and warning that “if we are not aware of our history and produce and demand only the information on what goes wrong, we risk to lose faith in one another.”

Why Your Brain Makes New Year’s Resolutions Impossible to Keep: “This phenomenon—using how we feel in the moment to predict how we will feel in the future—is called affective forecasting. And it makes sense: When you make a New Year’s resolution, you feel good about it at that moment, so you predict that you are going to feel good about it in the future. But when you actually go to do that resolution, the action itself doesn’t make you feel good (or at least not as good as sitting on the couch makes you feel). So you put it off.”

10 Tips for Setting and Sticking to Goals in 2017: So, on the above note, what are some ways we can set the best goals for us and achieve them (and remember that slipping up isn’t the end).

What You Should Reflect On When You Look Back at the Past Year: Here’s something to think about as you plan your itinerary for your next stroll down memory lane: a new study found that people who focused on positive aspects of their pasts — such as certain problem-solving achievements and the moments during which they defined their identity — “have higher self-esteem, self-efficacy, and a general sense of meaning in life.”

2017: Wellness, Health and Happiness: Several top wellness experts weigh in on how we can focus on — and succeed at — improving our health, healing, and happiness in the year to come.

10 Must-Read Brain Science And Psychology Studies Of 2016: Get a quick rundown of some of 2016’s most interesting studies including the relationship between marijuana and the fight against Alzheimer’s, genetic links to depression and happiness, why it’s so hard to break your dependency to sugar, and more.