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Want to be happier in 2021? Then do this

If you want to make a New Year's resolution that really makes you happy, think about the ways in which you can contribute to the world, because the research shows it's not just good for the world but also really good for you.

New Year's resolutions are as ubiquitous as they are difficult to keep. Does it even make sense to set such lofty goals for the new year, hoping anew each January first that this time really is the charm?

Any motivational researcher would have "ambivalent feelings" about New Year's resolutions. The evidence shows that most of the time people aren't successful at them.

But, any occasion that gives us an opportunity to reflect on our lives is ultimately a good thing. It doesn't have to be on New Year's. Whenever that happens, if it's really a reflective change -- something that you put your heart behind -- that can be good for people.

Self-determination theory (SDT), a broad framework for the study of human motivation and personality.

Developed by the duo over nearly 40 years, the theory has become one of the most widely accepted frameworks of human motivation in contemporary behavioural science. Its starting point is the idea that all humans have the natural -- or intrinsic -- tendency to behave in effective and healthful ways.

Acts of willingly helping others satisfy all three of the basic psychological needs identified in SDT research: the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy in this context means that you can engage in activities in which you feel true volition and find personal value. Competence means feeling effective and having a sense of accomplishment. Finally, relatedness means working with and feeling connected to others.


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