New Year, New Mindset: How to Effectively Practice Resolutions

It’s that time of year again where we are starting to work on our New Year’s resolutions. While resolutions can bring hope for a happier, healthier year ahead, they can also cause unnecessary stress. We might start out strong for the first few weeks or so, but as we get back to our normal, busy schedules it often becomes more difficult to fit in that daily workout, consistently eat healthy meals, or remain positive while our co-worker is getting on our nerves or when we are trying to get our children out the door on time.

Furthermore, the way we set our resolutions can unconsciously cause us to have more negative feelings about ourselves or our current state in life. For example, while many of us make a resolution to lose weight in 2018, phrasing it this way tells our brains that we are overweight, we don’t look good enough, etc. causing us to become demoralized even before we start.  So how can we more effectively execute our New Year’s resolutions to create a truly happier year ahead and actually achieve our goals?

New research conducted at Florida State University tells us that to most effectively form our resolutions, we have to change the way think about them and phrase them for ourselves. Researcher and Professor, Pamela Keel, gives an example by saying, “Consider what is really going to make you happier and healthier in 2018: losing 10 pounds or losing harmful attitudes about your body?”

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our bodies that we want to change through diet and exercise, Keel and research scientist, Eric Stice, suggest that individuals should focus on the things we appreciate about our bodies. These positive attributes can be about the look or even the function of our bodies, such as, “’I really appreciate the way my legs take me wherever I need to go,'” Keel said. “‘Every day without fail, they get me out of bed, to the car, up the stairs and into the office. I don’t have to worry about walking.’ It can be that kind of functional appreciation of what your body does for you.”

 

This mindset can be brought into every resolution we make by simply focusing on positive aspects instead of focusing on the negative things we want to change. For example, instead of saying “my closets are a mess, I need to get more organized this year,” we can say “this shelf looks really nice, I’m going to strive to make other parts of my home look as nice as this.” Focusing on the positive aspects helps us to feel more hopeful and allows us to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the things we want to change.

While this positively focused mindset can influence the resolutions we have made for this year, working to utilize this mindset throughout our daily lives can be a resolution itself. When we order our thoughts in a healthier manner, we automatically begin treating ourselves and others in a healthier way as well. “When people feel good about [themselves], they are more likely to take better care of themselves rather than treating [themselves] like an enemy, or even worse, an object,” Keel said. “That’s a powerful reason to rethink the kind of New Year’s resolutions we make for 2018.”

For more information on how to learn to make graceful change in your life, check out Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart. And be sure to tune in to More2Life — Monday-Friday at 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio, SiriusXM 139.

Dr. Gregory Popcak

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Dr. Gregory Popcak is the Executive Director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to tough marriage, family, and personal problems.

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