New Year’s Resolutions: The Surprising Emotion That Makes Them Stick

emotion that makes resolutions stick

New Year’s Resolutions: The Surprising Emotion That Makes Them Stick

Could it really be this simple?

To make your New Year’s Resolution stick, be happy first.

Most of us set New Year’s Resolutions, like losing weight, because we believe reaching the goal will bring happiness.

However, new research in the field of psychology reveals that we have this backward. It is happiness that leads to success, not the other way around.

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor sheds light on why it’s important to feel happy BEFORE setting your New Year’s Resolution:

When we are happy-when our mindset and mood are positive-we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful.

If you find yourself attacking your new year resolution in a less than jovial mood, then Achor suggests the following five ways to boost happiness.

1. Meditate. Brain scan studies showed that the part of the brain responsible for happiness grew in Monks who spent years meditating.

Fortunately, the benefits of meditation do not have to involve a life of solitude. You can achieve a happier state by simply sitting quietly at your desk for five minutes.

Take that time to focus on breathing in and breathing out. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

If you still have trouble staying focused, download a free meditative MP3 that will help you relax and experience a brief but deeply meditative state at Holothink.

2. Exercising your signature strength. Your signature strength is a talent that comes naturally to you.

Achor shares:

When 577 volunteers were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups.

And these benefits lasted: Even after the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full six months later (Achor, 2010).

Not sure what your signature strength is?

You can learn your top strengths, by going to and taking the free survey put together by Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and leading researcher in positive psychology.

3. Practice conscious acts of kindness. In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky found that practicing five acts of kindness a day achieved a long-lasting boost of happiness.

To fully benefit, you need to commit these acts consciously and intentionally. Try these today:

Send a note of appreciation

Let a hurried shopper go in front of you in the line

Donate a bag of dog or cat food to the local Humane Society (if you have time, stay and scratch a few ears)

4. Happy surroundings make a happy you. Look at the areas in which you spend your time. Do these areas evoke a feeling of inspiration or gloom?

If you said gloom, then get to work adding small reminders of the joys of life.

Take a snapshot of your grandchild making a silly face and tape it to your computer. Or, clean up the aggravating clutter on the top of your desk.

These little actions go a long way in raising your happiness quotient.

5. Exercise. I am sure you have heard that exercise is good for your body, but did you also know it’s good for your mind? Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals called endorphins.

The good news is that any form of exercise can lift a mood. If you have injuries that keep you from high impact exercises, then check out the bestselling ChiWalking: Fitness Walking for Lifelong Health and Energy.

This program blends the health benefits of walking with the core principles of T’ai Chi to deliver maximum physical, mental, and spiritual fitness.


About the Author

Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

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