Be bad, better – from anger to laziness, how to put your worst habits to good use

Forget new year resolutions and stop striving to be someone you’re not. It’s time to embrace your messy, imperfect, soft-bellied self

We have the Babylonians to blame for making the new year a festival of self-flagellation – although their resolutions were more about appeasing gods than weight loss or cutting back on booze. (Sensibly, they carried out their rituals in spring in the Middle East, not the meteorological hellscape that is a British January.) John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, rekindled the idea in 1740, with an annual new year’s service of resolution – his included a promise never to laugh, which might explain why we also choose punishment over joy.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if, instead of being motivated by guilt and shame, we leverage our worst habits to serve us better? By being intelligently, purposely lazier; less mindful, disorganised, slower (and with a bit of self-compassion), we might actually be more successful, productive and happier – but on our own terms. Here’s how.

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