We are more than 10 days into 2017 and the new year is not so new anymore. For some of you, you are settling back into your old routine and the new year resolutions that you made at the turn of last year, once so hopeful, seem unattainable now. But do not give up yet! Here are a few interesting research findings that can help you psycho yourself into achieving your new year goals. #freshstartstillgotchance

1. To eat less, reduce your portion size

This actually works for like me, a lazy glutton. Eating from a small bowl means that I have to get up more often to refill my bowl. Sooner or later, the effort needed to get off my bum more than outweighs the satisfaction I get from eating vanilla ice cream sprinkled with peanuts. That is when I stop. And I eat a lot less than if I carried the entire tub of ice cream to my room to eat while watching Korean rom coms.

2. To spend less, reduce the amount you withdraw each time

Instead of withdrawing $50 each time, opt for the minimum amount of $20. The underlying principle is the same as the one behind tip 1. Having to go to the ATM makes you think twice about spending your money that fast. Additionally, watching your money in your wallet dwindle rapidly to zero turns on your siege mentality and prompts you to become aware of your spending habits.

The worst way to manage your money is to pay everything by debit/credit card. A Dun and Bradstreet study showed that people spend 12-18% more when using cards instead of cash. And it’s not hard to understand why. When paying for stuff only involves punching in a few numbers and hearing a beep – not having to hand over your hard earned money— we easily lose track of how much we spend. Unless you want to go through your monthly bills religiously to analyse how your money miraculously disappeared into thin air, choose cash over card.

3. To maximise your enjoyment, get interrupted

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it. But it makes sense because of the human race’s ability to adapt. By breaking up a pleasurable experience (such as a massage or listening to songs) into 2 or 3 parts, you avoid getting used to the sensation (hedonic adaptation) and as such intensify the subsequent experience. Doing everything in one go, such as having a movie marathon, makes you numb to the stimuli. Maybe that is why so many people start using their phones by the third movie.

The reverse is true too. 2.4km, no matter how painful it is, should always be done in one shot. Do not ever stop halfway because that will only amplify your pain when you start running again.

4. To be happier, imagine a world where the things or events that make you happy disappeared

This is another counterintuitive one. To make yourself happy, think of a situation where you aren’t as fortunate? Yes! Research has shown that thinking about the absence of a positive event from one’s life will increase your happiness even more than thinking about the positive event itself.

So imagine…

If you have never met your best/ boy-/ girl- friend…

If you are an orphan…

If you aren’t living in Singapore where you need not worry about your next meal

Perhaps that is why many students who go on overseas CIP trips report higher satisfaction with their lives when they are back; seeing people who are way less fortunate than themselves make them wonder what if all the things they took for granted are stripped away.

That is when they learn to treasure the things they take for granted more.