“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours, and let each new year find you a better man,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, a lifelong advocate of self-improvement, in 1755.

As 2020 kicks off, many of us will be taking a leaf out of Franklin’s book. Unfortunately, many new year’s resolutions are founded on wishful thinking rather than solid evidence, but psychological science can now offer some proved ways to boost your wellbeing.

Based on a growing understanding of human emotions and the ways to control them, these techniques help us overcome bad habits, improve our relationships and manage our stress, so that we can all become better people in the coming year and decade.

Talk to yourself
If you struggle to adopt that more dispassionate acceptance of the way you are feeling, you could also benefit from a technique known as psychological distancing.

If I had an argument with a friend, for example, I might talk to myself in the third person (“David was angry because…”) or imagine myself as a fly on the wall, observing the situation as an outsider. These simple techniques help us to adopt a more detached perspective, so that we can recognise and analyse our feelings without becoming too immersed in them.

Research by Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan shows that these strategies reduce impulsive and rash reactions, such as aggression, and accelerate the body’s recovery from stress, while promoting more objective decision-making. Couples taught this strategy also have fewer arguments and show greater relationship satisfaction.

Read the full article at The Guardian.