New York: Toss out your usual list of New Year’s resolutions and set goals that involve giving to others to be happier in 2021, suggest experts. Their study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that happiness increases as your focus of concern and care gets wider.
“We found that when people are focused on giving to others, they experience deeper satisfaction than when their goals are more self-oriented,” said Richard Ryan, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Rochester in the US. “For example, experiments show that doing something benevolent for others, even when you will never meet the beneficiary, increases your positive mood and energy,” said Ryan.
Together with Edward Deci, also a University of Rochester Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Ryan is the co-founder of the 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.
According to Ryan, 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. “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,” said Ryan. “The research shows it's not just good for the world but also really good for you.”