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New Year, New Hope: Resolving to Make a Difference in 2024

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New Year, New Hope: Resolving to Make a Difference in 2024
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  • New Year, New Hope: Resolving to Make a Difference in 2024

As the year draws to a close, our thoughts naturally turn towards the tradition of crafting New Year resolutions. A common thread among these resolutions is the commitment to self-improvement— healthier living, financial prudence, and personal growth. However, as the familiar pattern goes, these inwardly directed goals often fade by February, only to resurface in the waning moments of December.

The most prevalent resolutions, the top nine in fact, overwhelmingly focus on self-transformation— whether it be related to health, body image, or perceived shortcomings. While self-improvement is commendable and essential for personal growth, it seems that a critical element is missing from the equation.

The Science of Selflessness

Perhaps it is time to alter our approach. If the goal is to genuinely make the upcoming year better than the last, perhaps our New Year resolution should extend beyond ourselves to enhance the lives of others. Research suggests that altruism, the act of helping others, not only benefits the recipients but also yields dividends for our health, happiness, and overall well-being.

Numerous studies highlight the positive effects of altruism on temperament. A study published in Nature Communications revealed that participants who spent money on others reported a greater sense of happiness. Altruistic acts, from regular almsgiving to volunteering, have been associated with reduced depression, enhanced emotional regulation, and improved physical well-being. It is not just about the act itself, doing good for others appears to trigger a cascade of positive effects on our mental and physical health.

Despite the intriguing benefits, researchers acknowledge the complexity of establishing a direct link between altruism and these positive outcomes. While there’s a possibility that altruistic individuals engage in other life-affirming habits, studies suggest a physiological response to generosity. The brain’s mesolimbic system, known as the “reward pathway,” activates when individuals donate money, releasing feel-good hormones like oxytocin, fostering social bonding.

Making altruism a central theme for the upcoming year is a commendable resolution, but like any aspiration, it faces challenges. The key lies in framing the resolution effectively. Instead of a vague commitment, set specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-defined (SMART) goals. Refrain from aiming for perfection and embrace the journey, recognizing that setbacks are part of the process.

Practical Steps Toward Doing Good in 2024

Find your passion, give your time, support organizations with transparent aims like the concerted efforts of Smile Foundation related to child education, integrate your interests and skills, and be proactive in seeking opportunities.

The timeless wisdom of Aristotle resonates: the essence of life is to serve others and do good. Making altruism the focal point of your New Year’s resolution is not just a good place to start, it’s a powerful way to shape a better year for yourself and those around you.

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