​be a better you: take your resolutions to another level without piling on the pressure

A new year, a new you is all well and good, but the inclination to over-reach with our resolutions often makes many of us crumble. Take the pressure off by injecting some achievable goals into your January…

by Hattie Collins
Jan 8 2016, 11:50am

Stop scrolling through Instagram and read more - and better - books
The must-read* of 2015 was Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend series. I didn't read them last year because Jackie Collins (RIP). But with my new Culturally Proactive 2016 hat on, I have started on the first book, which is so far utterly absorbing. Little is known about the Italian novelist, who writes under a pseudonym, but she (or possibly he) has received widespread acclaim for her beautiful portrait of friendship. Set in fifties Naples amid poverty and chaos and casual yet frequent violence, the books follow Elena and her BFF Lila through childhood to death. Lots of things happen - I'm still reading so couldn't plot-spoil even if I wanted to - but so far I've found My Brilliant Friend to be a gripping read that is powerfully descriptive without being even remotely pretentious. Better yet, it's so, so easy to read.

* Richard and Judy's book club recommendations, by the way, don't count as a must read. Be gone with your Gone Girl.

Get fit without traditional exercise
Every gym is so full right now. So full. And will be for the next three weeks, until one by one, enthusiastic exercisers succumb once more to sofa and stodge. Save yourself the stink of collective sweat and stench of the yoga mat, and laugh your way to a newer, healthier you. Don't worry, this isn't a recommendation for a comedy club. You just need to listen to the podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno, which does exactly what it says on the tin. I listened to two episodes on my walk to work this morning and laughed my head off the whole way, not even caring that people were sending me serious side-eye. Laughter has many proven health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and stuff. And it's a lot more fun than the cross trainer.

Drink more
Water. Not booze. Because #DryJanuary. There's an app called My Water and it tells you, for the price of 79p, how much you should drinking and how much you have drunk. If you hit your target, it gives you a 'congratulations', so that's, well, that's great. I'm not entirely convinced of My Water's scientific accuracy, given it's solely based on your height, age, sex and weight, but none of us drink enough water, so get an app and we soon will.

Get to grips with Snapchat
If you, like me, haven't used Snapchat since 2010 and think you know what you're doing, let me tell you things done changed. This is not the same app. Now the domain of 14 year-olds, people (kids) catalogue their entire days on it and no one draws comedy penises over their photos anymore. Sad times. It's more confusing than Tolstoy. In fact, maybe we should forget trying to master Snapchat and just go and read Dostoyevsky instead.

Subscribe to Time Magazine and look clever
This is the sort of publication I used to buy on planes to appear intelligent, but would tuck Heat inside it and read that instead. But then I got a subscription for Christmas last year and I realised that even though reading an issue a week is quite the commitment, I'm a bit better versed on world issues. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Jeremy Paxman, but I do know a bit more about Russia and China and Google and Oculus Rift. Granted, Time has a strong US-slant, but it's a really effective way to digest global current affairs in short, sharp bursts. And you can read it on the bus and people will think you're really clever.

Go and see some art that you've never heard of in a space you've never been to
Later this month (28th-31st), Patrick Dakers and Hetty Douglas will be showing their work at 71a on Leonard Street. Entitled 'Finger', the pair explains that the exhibition seeks to challenge and question the contemporary aesthetic of sexuality, desire, relationships and gender. You can expect paintings, sculptures and installations that have, and we quote "a desperate, personal and historical edge. A quest for meaningful love and true identity in a world that screams fuck me and fuck off." Interested. Very.

Hetty Douglas

Go to the planetarium and realise that the concept of life is strange
I went to the Peter Harrison Planetarium once last year and haven't stopped banging on about it since. I haven't been back either, but I plan to this year, honestly. Here's the deal; you pay £7.50 to sit in a lovely warm and dry Observatory for around 40 minutes. The seats are huge and comfortable and tilted up at an angle so that when the film starts, you're looking up at the screen as though it were the actual sky at night. You're then whizzed through space as someone from Lord of the Rings talks about dark matter and how we really have no clue what the bloody hell the universe is, but gosh isn't it incredible. I learnt more in that afternoon than I did the rest of the year. And promptly forgot it, but that's not the point. It's a brilliant activity, you learn something and it makes you realise that life, as a concept, it's really, really weird. Happy 2016.


Text Hattie Collins

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