What to Think About When Looking Back at the Past Year

The end of the year is a time for reflection. We all have our ups and downs, but recent research shows that you will be happier if you continue your walk down the memory lane focused on a few specific types of memories.

A study published in the journal Memory found that those who reflected on their accomplishments in problem-solving and self-determination moments 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 advised to focus on regret, disappointment, or a negative event related to the conflict were much less happy. It was the same with participants in the control group, who were told to recall any memories they wanted.

These results may not sound like a surprise – thinking good things should feel good – but the researchers noted that the effect was not only driven by positive memories. An analysis of the participants’ written responses showed that the increased mood was actually associated with feelings of resilience and self-exploration or introspection. Basically, by looking back at how you’ve overcome difficulties, you may feel more capable and prepared to handle whatever comes your way in the new year.

Brief Flashbacks Improve Wellbeing and Self-Esteem in Young People: A Randomized Controlled Experiment | Memory through the highest good


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