Psychology: 5 little things we can do to make 2021 happier

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Sure, 2020 was not quite what we expected it to be. And we know that things haven’t magically become fine in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world. 

For humans, as is true for members of any species, life has always been a struggle. Sometimes it’s just worse than how others have it. Researchers used the concept of positive evolutionary psychology to learn what the good life looks like from an evolutionary perspective. Read on to know more about the 5 suggestions they came up with to understand what a good life looks like from an evolutionary perspective. 

1. Honesty

Be honest with yourself and with others. Humans have a deep evolutionary history of spotting lies and deception. And, in short, lies and deception generally don’t make people very popular. In fact, our minds have systems that are finely tuned to detect liars and cheaters among us. Be honest with yourself and with others in your life, even if it might seem difficult. There’s no doubt that, ultimately, you’ll be happy to have taken this approach.

2. Let go of perfectionism

Mistakes are an inherent part of life. And this applies to everyone. Sure, its okay to hold high standards for yourself and for others, but always allow room for mistakes along the way. All of us are likely to make lots of mistakes of all kinds of sizes in 2021. And this is true of those around you as well. And that’s normal. That is part of living. Make room for imperfection in yourself and others.

3. Make amends

Across the human experience, social conflict of various kinds has emerged regularly. Betrayal, deception, emotional manipulation and more. The human experience is not all easy and it never has been. Humans evolved a psychology for living in small-scale groups with others who interact with one another extensively across life. This is an important way that shaped our evolution.

Given this fact, we’ve evolved a broad array of moral and emotional feelings that serve to help us keep connected to others for our own good. Making amends with others after social conflict has always been an important part of the human experience. And while it is often a difficult thing to do, it also often has long-term benefits for oneself and for the community.

4. Learn to forgive

Along with making amends with others for mistakes that we have made as we’re navigating through life, we’ve evolved a psychology that pertains to forgiving others who’ve hurt us, in some form or another. While forgiveness may not always be possible genuine forgiveness often has many benefits like making the forgiver feel better about things as well as keeping close relationships intact as we engage in our life journeys.

5. Love

Without question, love is a real thing. The experience of love is perhaps the ultimate in our evolved psychology for staying close to others and to securing support through life. In a truly loving relationship, one becomes so involved with another that fulfilling a loved one’s needs and wants becomes a primary goal for oneself. The power of love cannot be understated in its ability to provide all kinds of benefits in life. So, in 2021, let yourself love and be loved.

The more you live, the more you come to find that life can be hard as nails. 2020 gave everyone, all eight billion of us, a powerful lesson in this fact.

But life experience also teaches us about the silver linings that appear along the way. And so many of the good things in life, such as the ability to make amends and the capacity for true love, are deeply embedded in all of us. Hope, these 5 little things helps you tread 2021 with happiness and peace.