January tinted glasses

Calvin and Hobbes

Humans are a predictable bunch, especially at this time of year. After the alcohol-drenched din of festive season revelry has dwindled and eventually died, those of us fortunate enough to have spent the last couple of weeks overindulging with loved ones are generally doing one of three things. De-toxing, wallowing in a pit of January depression or searching for The One.

For many the new year is a time to wipe the proverbial slate clean, boot the previous year into oblivion and seek the kind of change that promises to make us deliriously, over the top, Jessica-Simpson-on-fruit-pastilles, happy. And this change comes in the form of The One – something we desperately seek as a quick fix for all our current problems and a guarantee for future bliss.

The One comes in many varied incarnations but being as simple as we are, there seem to be three main things we tend to place at the epicentre of our potential for happiness – relationships, where we live and what we do for a living.

Take relationships. Statistics dictate that the period between Christmas and New Year is the busiest time of year for online dating sites; with around 350 per cent more traffic expected post Crimbo. With one in five relationships now starting online it’s not surprising that the masses are flocking to their laptops, ipads and smart phones to cure their loneliness – Match.com reports typically seeing a 25 to 30 percent increase in new members registrations between Boxing Day and Valentine’s Day.

If we’re not looking for Mr or Mrs Right to top up our happy meter, we might be turning our attention to our careers. If you’re looking to ensure joyful living through snapping up an exciting and meaningful new job, then now is a good time to iron the interview trousers and practice your most sincere ‘my biggest weakness really is my workaholism’ face.

In fact if you’re really smart you’ll have got ahead of the game and already started looking. Employers are increasingly mindful of the January recruitment rush and, according to a recent Monster report, December is becoming a much more active month for HR departments advertising job vacancies. In fact applications are tending to slow down more than openings do during the holiday season – tipping the balance in favour of those mentally strong enough to put down the mulled wine and work on their CV.

Finally, it’s common to be looking for The One in the form of a dream living location at this time of year. In my corner of Berkshire the luminous, multi-layered colours and textures of autumn have given way to an all-consuming and oppressive greyness and a damp chill that even seven gallons of Earl Grey can’t rectify. If you’re not fantasising about migrating to some far flung spot in the southern hemisphere where your days comprise trips to a sun drenched beach to be served mojitos by an Argentine model named Diego, then there’s something wrong with you.

It’s not a coincidence that mid January is the most popular time of year for lucky gap year students to leave the country and skip off to warmer climes. Mid-winter in this country is undeniably shite. But for those of us that actually need to work for a living and have family attachments here, running off into sunny oblivion just isn’t realistic. However for some people, simply moving within their own country is enough to shake life up a little. If you really are suffering from new year dissatisfaction and want to get on the property ladder, apparently January is the best time to make an offer on a house.

While the above are all valid mechanisms for improving quality of life, there’s also a strong chance that anyone hell bent on dramatically changing one of these three things right now is suffering from gin and mince pie overload and a bout of rash and idealistic daydreaming. Unless you’ve been seriously thinking about finding love, moving jobs or relocating for some time, you might find that in a few weeks – after your liver and digestive tract have a chance to splutter back into life- you don’t feel so anxious to upend your life.

Searching for The One can also be a symptom of ‘I’m Not Happy Because…’ disease – a terrible affliction which causes us to blame a variety of external causes for our flagging wellbeing and self esteem. Anything but ourselves.

How to Win Friends and Influence People author Dale Carnegie once said: “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” And from one wise author dude to a slightly less wise custard cream lover, I would have to agree.  It’s very easy to look to others to solve our problems, when maybe we simply need to look at things from a new perspective. That being said, if you’ve given serious, well thought through consideration to making major change in your life – go forth and conquer. I salute you.

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