Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton are the senior editors of PositivePsychologyNews.com. Together they have edited two books in the Positive Psychology News series: Resilience: How to Navigate Life's Curves and Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life's Gifts. Kathryn co-edited the third book in the series, Character Strengths Matter, with Shannon Polly. Their co-authored articles are here.
Senia Maymin, MAPP '06, is the coauthor of Profit from the Positive. Maymin is an executive coach to entrepreneurs and CEOs. Her PhD is in organizational behavior from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Full Bio. Her solo articles are here and her articles with Margaret Greenberg are here.
Positive Psychology News has a tradition of pulling together thoughts for the New Year, remembering that many people are taking stock and making resolutions. As you look ahead, perhaps the ideas below will help you find ways to make your life more happy and healthy. We also recommend that you follow Alicia’s lead and look back at 2016. What worked especially well then? What do you want to make sure you do more of in 2017?
Kathryn Britton: Remember that approach goals are easier to achieve than avoidance goals, so express your resolution in terms of something you want to move toward rather than something you want to move away from. If you really want to get away from something, set up an implementation intention: “If I start wanting to do X, then I’ll do Y.” That way you can keep your mind from running around and around what you want to avoid like a mouse in a treadwheel, basically reinforcing thoughts of the item you want to avoid. So instead of “I want to avoid cake,” think “If the idea of cake comes to mind, I’ll go drink a glass of water (climb stairs) (eat a carrot).” Might as well put the urge to work reinforcing a behavior that you want to develop. Check out Emily vanSonnenberg’s article,
- Watch, Ask, Adapt. Use responsive care giving tools that respect the rights of children and build meaningful relationships between parent and child.
- Create more FLOW experiences with children using loose parts.
- Conscious Discipline- let children feel negative emotions.
Want more ideas? Check out
Even in the darkest hours, there is always hope. I remembered this article Doug Turner wrote when PPND was first launched. It was so poignant that a decade later I was able to draw upon it for my own family. Thank you Doug!
If this year has taught us nothing else, it’s that we must be active consumers of information. We cannot just read and accept — we must think about it! This holds double when it comes to our personal development.
Let me share my advice to myself for 2017, and maybe it will help others. 2016 was extraordinarily busy in all sorts of ways, and I got used to it and now I find it hard to relax, hard to sit back, hard to enjoy the moment. Yet even though I’m so busy, I really enjoy everything that I do. It’s not easy to just drop the miserable things. It’s hard to pick and choose.
So for 2017, I’m going to focus more on me. I’ve signed up for a mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) course, I’ve signed up for some Pilates and Yoga classes, I went back to dance lessons. I haven’t done those in 30 years. I’m dropping some of my extra work: I resigned from a Board, I am done teaching, and I’ve finished a few other smaller projects.I want to craft a new lifestyle for myself, one that is still full, but meaningful in my focus. I want to read more, exercise more, be present more, and learn how to resist the call of emails and work outside of working hours.
2017 will bring new adventures, and I want to be there for them. I have never been good at sticking to New Year’s resolutions, so this isn’t a resolution. Instead it’s a life shift. It won’t be easy. I have a lot of bad habits to break and good habits to acquire. But even a small step in the right direction is still forward motion.
What is your forward motion? What is your intention? Start the way you mean to end. What lifestyle do you want for yourself? Are you living it now? If not, what is the small step in the right direction that you want to take first?
Want more? Read my review of
Both 2015 and 2016 have been difficult years for me. I thank my lucky stars I have been trained in positive psychology which got me through. I think sometimes because we practice this we believe we need to be up and positive all the time. That is just not the case. We have to show ourselves compassion and allow ourselves to embrace our imperfections. Use the power of this amazing community to help you cushion your falls. It is a soft place to land!
Editor’s note: Louisa reminded us to collect stories that show the generosity of the human spirit in
This is a reminder to have self-compassion. People usually are too hard with themselves and want to do everything perfectly. Breathe. Your self-worth is not tied to achievement, productivity, or compliance. The best way for you to move forward from critical thoughts is by being kind to yourself. Turn those negative voices into positive ones. If you are compassionate with yourself, you are more likely to be compassionate with others.
If the year ahead appears difficult, you might also be interested in the idea of Sisu, the spirit and strength that enable people to persevere through difficulties despite feeling they have reached the end of their physical or mental capacities.
As we enter into the New Year and this strange new political climate, don’t forget the value of gratitude. In particular, one very concrete way of exercising gratitude is in the form of writing thoughtful thank you notes that demonstrate appreciation and care to others.
Choose one thing that’s important to you and do it every weekday. Maybe it takes five minutes every weekday. It doesn’t need to take long.
One of my earliest PPND articles is about using good constraints to make good behavior come automatically:
The advice is to be brave in going deeper in relationships, and yet on the other hand, to lighten up. Beyond the superficial, I’m curious to go beyond the surface in order to create a better understanding between and among people I care about, or would like to know better.
Also, I love the quotation, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” The transcendent strength of humor shared is a real gift, helping to build bridges, positive connections, and better health. Authentically priming depth and lightness in ourselves and our relationships can boost our whole health and well-being.
Want to think about ways to use humor? Try out Laura L. C. Johnson’s article,
We have been collecting ideas about starting a new year since 2008. If you would like to hear more wishes for your well-being, suggestions, and wisdom about resolutions, check out the articles listed below. These ideas never grow old.
- 2008: Happy New Year from PPND
- 2009: Happy New Year 2009 from PPND
- 2010: Planning for 2010: How Daily Mental Time Travel Can Increase Happiness or Decrease Anxiety by Bridget Grenville-Cleave
- 2011: Resolving New Year’s Resolutions by Emily vanSonnenberg
- 2012: Starting the New Year Afresh
- 2013: Starting 2013
- 2014: Welcome to 2014
- 2015: Looking Ahead at 2015
- 2016: Ideas for the 2016 New Year (Part 1) and Ideas for the 2016 New Year (Part 2)
Happy New Year, everybody.
Photo Credits: from Flickr via Compfight with Creative Commons Licenses
New Year Fireworks courtesy of davidyuweb
Sprouting acorn courtesy of pfarrell95
Oak sapling courtesy of cogdogblog
Slender oaks courtesy of cod_gabriel
Majestic oak courtesy of he_boden