So it’s New Year’s resolution time, and everyone’s trying to figure out how to have a better year than last year. For myself, I’ve decided to learn French, and I’m going to continue my longstanding policy of not poking sharks. I have a lot of faith in the not-shark-poking one working out, but I’m not as certain about the French thing. They have like 43 vowels in that language, and I only know five.
That’s the problem with most resolutions – they take a long time to pan out. We all tell ourselves we’ll eat better and lose weight, but it takes weeks or months to see the results of our efforts, and so most of us give up. Then there are the expensive resolutions, the travel and home improvement ones, and too often those end up being beyond our means.
The point of resolutions is to force us to analyze our lives and do something that will make us happier or more fulfilled in some meaningful way. It’s difficult to feel better about yourself when all the goals you have are difficult, long-term, and/or expensive. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have those kinds of goals, but they certainly shouldn’t be your only ones.
However, there is a simpler resolution I’d like you to consider. It’s free, it’s easy, it will lead you to a better 2015 than you thought possible, and it will take you less time to accomplish than it will to read what it is. Ready?
How to Be Happier in 1 Second: Stop looking at other people’s lives
That’s all you have to do. Recent studies have shown that the more time we spend on social media, the less happy we are, specifically when that time is spent passively staring at other people’s feeds (as opposed to actively interacting with friends and family). It’s a safe bet that the same is true when we read too many gossip magazines or watch too many reality shows, and the reason for all three is identical – because the collective effect of what we’re seeing makes our own experiences seem less interesting by comparison.
Let’s see if this sounds probable. Every week for the rest of this year you will learn that 1 friend got engaged, 2 people are having a baby, 13 people are about to go on the MOST EXCITING VACATION EVER!!!!, 4 friends plan on doing something noble and selfless over the holidays, and 16,000 new professional-grade photos just got uploaded. It’s not that any one of these pieces of information is a problem, but collectively they make it much more difficult for us to feel as though we’re making good use of our own time. You simply can’t have a wedding that incorporates all the beautiful things you’ll find in an idle 15-minute scan of Pinterest, and your home simply can’t measure up to the sum total of what you’ll see on Houzz. Throw in the fact that people are free to show you only the best moments of their lives (nobody details the 6 hours they spent in agonizing pain while passing a kidney stone last night, and if anyone does then I’m sure you’ve already unfriended them), and ‘much more difficult’ becomes ‘almost impossible.’
So turn it off for a while. Our brains are not designed to process information at the speed that it enters your social media feeds. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy them occasionally. But if you’ve ever finished a 15-minute scrolling session and then felt slightly, inexplicably worse when you got done, it might be time to take a break.
Except from mine. Because I promise that the next cat picture I post is going to the THE CUTEST THING EVER!!!!!!!