The end of the year is a time for reflection. We all have ups and downs, but a recent study suggests you’ll be happier if you keep your walk down memory lane focused on a few specific types of memories.
Photo by Igor Spasic.
The study, published in the journal Memory, found that those who reflected on their problem solving achievements and moments of defining their identity were much happier in the days that followed. They showed higher self-esteem, self-efficacy and a general sense of meaning in life. Those who were told to dwell on a regret, disappointing time or negative event involving conflict were much less happy. Same goes for participants in the control group who were told to think back on any memories they wanted.
Those results may not seem too surprising — thinking about good things should feel good — but the researchers noted the effects weren’t only due to the positive memories. Analysis of the participants’ written responses suggest that mood boost was actually related to feelings of resilience and self-exploration or introspection. Basically, looking back at how you overcame hardships can make you feel more capable and prepared to take on any that come your way in the new year.