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10 Wellness Resolutions for 2023 You Can Actually Keep

Find out how to achieve your New Year's resolutions. Hint: It's not what you want to change, but how you go about changing it that's the key to success.

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How to Make Better New Year's Resolutions for 2023

It’s time: Time for all the end-of-year reflection stories, your Spotify wrap-up and an influx of newsletters and articles telling you what resolutions you need to make for next year.

Sure, you can make the argument that the best time to start something is always now — not to keep your bad habits till Dec. 31 and try to radically change starting at midnight on New Year’s. But research does show that the start of a new year is a great time to set new goals, says Dr. Laurie Santos, the Yale professor whose the Science of Wellbeing course was such a hit that it led to a free Coursera course and the podcast The Happiness Lab.

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Go About Your Goal-Setting the Right Way

“We naturally have these sorts of chapter breaks in life,” Dr. Santos says. “Research shows that we are more motivated to change ourselves in the new year, because it kind of feels like it’s a new chapter, a new page in our lives.”

The key, though, is going about those changes in the right way. “The typical things we pick as resolutions and the way we go about those resolutions, both of those seem to be bad from the perspective of actually increasing our happiness,” Dr. Santos says. Resolutions around changing our bodies or the circumstances of our lives — losing weight, getting a new job or starting a new relationship — don’t actually improve our happiness, she says. Instead, focus on changing your attitude.

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Resolve to Exercise, But Not to Look Good or Lose Weight

Let’s start with weight loss goals, as New Year’s is always ripe for diet companies to try to persuade you that they are your secret to happiness. Don’t fall into this trap. Often, people approach body-related goals like, “I would be happier if I had a better bikini body, so I want to lose 10 pounds this year.” But Dr. Santos says that even when people achieve goals like that, they often actually end up more dissatisfied. They expect they’ll suddenly feel better, happier, once those 10 pounds are gone, but they’re still the same person even after losing the weight. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, “as soon as you get to the goal you had, you’re like, ‘Oh, I gotta do more,’” she says. “Researchers call this the hedonic treadmill.” A better, healthier way to make body-related goals, she says, is to make a resolution like “I want to move my body every week in a way that feels good.”

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Resolve to Journal Every Day

Research shows that journaling regularly can make you both happier and physically healthier. You don’t have to buy a fancy leather-bound notebook for this — you can use whatever’s available to you or make a habit of freewriting in a Word document on your computer every day. Journaling can help you detangle frustrations you’re feeling, keep a record that’s interesting or useful to look back on a few weeks or months from now, and flex your creative muscles. Schedule time on your calendar to remind you to journal at the same time every day, or you could get an app that offers you a different prompt every day.

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