Over the past 12 months, we’ve shared with our readers insights from psychologists, couples therapists, time-management experts, and more. Each one had a slightly different take on what makes people happy, successful, and fulfilled.
As the year draws to a close, we’re reflecting on some of the most useful tips we heard. Read on for the best life advice of 2017.
Remember there’s no such thing as ‘The One’
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Couples therapist Esther Perel doesn’t believe in the concept of soul mates, per se.
She previously told Business Insider that there are a lot of people you could potentially be happy with. Once you pick someone, you convince yourself they’re “the one” for you – and craft your relationship into something special.
“There is never ‘The One.’ There is a one that you choose and with whom you decide that you want to build something. But in my opinion, there could also have been others – you just chose this one. And when you choose one, you renounce others. … Then you decide that because you’ve chosen that person, you turn that person into The One.”
Raise kids who will ask for help when they need it
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Researcher and bestselling author Brene Brown advises parents to accept that they’ll inevitably make mistakes – and their kids will, too.
On an episode of Lewis Howes’ podcast, “The School of Greatness,” she said the best thing you can do as a parent is teach your kids that it’s OK to ask for help. Ultimately, it’s about encouraging your kids to let themselves be vulnerable – something Brown takes a lot of bravery.
Choose what to bomb
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It’s hard to accept, but it’s harder not to: You won’t be able to get everything done. Not at work, and not at home.
Which is why Jon Acuff, in his most recent book, “Finish,” advises readers to pick the stuff that really matters – and let the rest more or less fall by the wayside. Or, as he puts it, “choose what to bomb.”
Acuff writes, “The only way to accomplish a new goal is to feed it your most valuable resource: time. And what we never like to admit is that you don’t just give time to something, you take it from something else. To be good at one thing you have be bad at something else.”
Reassess the division of chores with your partner
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On an episode of their podcast, “Best of Both Worlds,” Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger offer a solution for any couple who’s frustrated by a seemingly endless list of household and family chores.
Their solution is simple but elegant, and it applies just as easily to couples with and without kids. There are two steps:
1. Each person writes down all the family responsibilities they’re currently taking care of.
2. Each person shares which of those responsibilities they enjoy, and which they don’t.
The ideal outcome is twofold. One, you discover that you’re doing less than you thought (and your partner’s doing more). Two, you figure out which responsibilities you enjoy and which your partner enjoys, then swap or outsource some duties so everybody’s happy.
Don’t waste all your time schmoozing
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Meeting interesting and influential people in your industry – i.e. networking – can help you develop in your career. But you know what’s more helpful? Hard work.
So says Wharton psychologist Adam Grant. In a New York Times op-ed, Grant argues that while making connections can make you more successful, more often than not it works the other way: Achieving success helps you make connections.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t forge relationships with coworkers and people at other companies – you just shouldn’t do it hoping that alone will propel you to the top.
Show vulnerability during a fight with your partner
Even petty arguments can spiral out of control when partners start making increasingly hurtful – and unnecessary – remarks.
Hal Runkel, a marriage and family therapist, previously told Business Insider there’s one word that can put a stop to this spiral: “Ouch.”
When your partner says something disparaging, you can respond with, “Ouch. That one hurt. I don’t know if you were meaning to hurt me; I don’t know if that’s what you were going for; but that’s what you did.”
Runkel added, “It wasn’t a step of pushing [your partner] away. It was a step of inviting [your partner] in by saying: You know what? I am open enough to you that you can actually hurt me. So now how about we talk to each other as if we actually love each other?”
Hug or kiss your family before leaving for work every day
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It’s easy to take your partner and/or kids for granted, to think you’re in a rush to get out the door and you can hug them later.
Which is why Gretchen Rubin, happiness expert and bestselling author, recommends making a habit of practicing “warm greetings and farewells.” It’s something she does in her own family: Every time someone comes or goes, everyone gives a sincere hello or goodbye.
Rubin previously told Business Insider it’s a measurable behavior (you know if you did or didn’t do it) that works to strengthen your relationships – which she says are the most important contributor to individual happiness.