When you Google the phrase, “how to keep New Year’s resolutions” you’ll get 4,880,000 results to page through. If you read one of these articles per day, it would take you 13,369 days to go through them all or around 36 years. Obviously, there’s a lot of interest in learning how to keep New Year’s resolutions.However, the success rate is appalling. A recent New York Times article said, “By Jan. 8, some 25 percent of resolutions have fallen by the wayside. And by the time the year ends, fewer than 10 percent have been fully kept.”
Why do people have so much trouble keeping their resolutions?
If you’re busy, tired or stressed, it’s hard to resist temptation. And that describes the American population, doesn’t it? We also have the tendency to be shortsighted and seek instant gratification instead of exercising self-control and willpower.
Many of today’s gurus teach that willpower is the answer. Yet when you rely on willpower, your mind is fighting against itself. That’s not good. Of note, a recent study by the Northwestern University psychologist Greg Miller, found that those using self-control had more success in resisting temptations, but it damaged their health. Stress responses increased and immune cells aged prematurely.
Instead of approaching change from the negative point of view of depriving yourself, a much healthier and more effective tool is tapping into the power of your social emotions.
Emotions like gratitude and compassion support positive aspects of life. These emotions increase the value you place on the future and for others, which naturally helps you show more patience and perseverance.
By putting something else ahead of your own immediate desires and interests, you sacrifice some resources in the moment. However, in exchange, you’ll gain stronger relationships that, in turn, give you support when you need it. And these emotions are healing. They slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
It’s our gratitude and compassion for others that spurs us on to keep our New Year’s Resolutions, NOT willpower. According to the research, in the long run we’re motivated by love because love keeps us focused and enjoying our goals. In spite of the short sightedness of those who rise quickly to the top because of rapacious greed, they are always outdone by our love for others. We are stronger together.
If you would like help choosing worthwhile, loving goals for the next year, please schedule an appointment. I offer online therapy so we can meet from the comfort of your own home.