A year-end activity that drives me crazy is making New Years Resolutions, Why crazy? Because I think it’s probably a good idea, but by February all the promises to myself have been dropped into the dumpster of failed self-improvement campaigns.
I find I’m not alone. Since Babylonian times people have been making promises to the gods, or God, or themselves about how they will change as the year changes. But the lasting effects of a statement of good intentions has a dismal record of success. Research done at the University of Scranton and reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2014 found that only 8% of those who made resolutions had achieved them one year later.
Maybe that’s not much of a surprise. Comedians use resolution making as the subject matter for end-of-the-year jokes, and articles proliferate about the topic as each year winds down. So is it worthwhile to spend time deciding how from now on you’ll eat less, drink less, stop smoking, spend less, save more and start exercising? An article in Time magazine suggests that resolution making is actually bad for you. Because success is so rare, attempting something that has a high probability of failure can leave you feeling like just that – a failure
Have I been wasting my time and making myself feel bad with my yearly resolving? Probably. So why am I even questioning whether to try again? Because I’ve been doing a little reading on the topic, and found that I, along with 92% of those who make resolutions, have been doing it all wrong. We overwhelm our brains with too many, nonspecific intentions. We give up too soon. (It takes 18 to 21 days to establish new habits.) We pay more attention to times we fall short than acknowledging small successes. We don’t call upon support from others And so on.
According to my Google search there has been lots of scientific study lately that can help us do it right. This is one readable synopsis.
And here are a few, easy to implement suggestions:
- Pick one specific thing to work on.
- Put it in writing.
- Begin with a tiny change and do it every day to establish a habit.
- Reward yourself for progress.
- Enlist support from trusted friends and/or family members.
- Spread resolutions over the year. Every day is a new opportunity.
Sounds pretty simple. Maybe I’ll give it one more try.
Good luck, and Happy New Year
Despite my initial skepticism, fumbled beginnings and ongoing frustrations, I think I actually love Facebook. It’s taken me awhile to get the hang of it, and I often don’t know what I’m doing, but so far I haven’t made any embarrassing mistakes, that I know of.
I used to eat breakfast alone, but now I eat while catching up with what my family and friends have been up to since I checked the day before. Yes, I know, I’m doing more than one thing at a time, and interfering with mindfulness about the food I’m eating, but the pleasure I get from connecting with family members who are hundreds of miles away is worth it. I’ll be mindful later.
Inevitably I find some post that makes me laugh out loud (what better way to begin the day?), and if I take the time to look at a video or two, I’m in for more fun. It’s not just the funny stuff I like, either. I love being steered to an interesting TED talk, an inspiring quotation or article, a beautiful photograph or whatever my friends share.
Recent research tells us that senior citizens are the biggest group of new users on social media. As a senior myself I can completely understand that. I often run into younger people who seem surprised that I am on Facebook and have a website: www.happinesscards.net. I designed and put it together when I was 83. Take a look.
A few days ago a friend wondered aloud if happiness and joy were the same. I said that my experience has been that they are different, but I welcomed the question and promised to look into it.
A website that was a good starting place is Diffen It looks at both words side-by-side under several different categories. Another helpful site, Lessons 4 Living says, “joy is related to happiness, but it is a deeper experience. In the search for happiness the individual focuses upon himself, but joy moves a person out of a self-centered preoccupation and provides an orientation towards others.” The author goes into some depth in discussing the two words.
In my search I found that “joy” moves one into religious/spiritual territory fairly quickly, whereas “happiness” doesn’t. I like how blogger, Danielle Laporte describes her personal experiences from a spiritual perspective. “Happiness is like rising bubbles — delightful and inevitably fleeting. Joy is the oxygen — ever present.” She suggests that joy is our birthright and the foundation of our being, always there, even in the most difficult times, whereas happiness is fleeting and more dependent on outer circumstances.
I like that. Although I can’t say I’ve touched that all-pervading joy very often, it’s somehow a comfort to think that it’s there, under the surface, ready to reveal itself when all the garbage is swept away.
The first time I was aware of images being captured in raindrops was a few years ago. A local nature photographer, Jon Klein, began exhibiting his photographs of a local church reflected in drops of water. You can see them on his website, I have found several others who have done some amazing work using a similar technique. I was blown away by the work of this photographer. When his website opens go to Gallery II, Macro, then Dew. Definitely worth a look.
Here’s one more to check out.
Happy viewing until next time.