Embracing the Dark Side

Discerning the positive aspects of sadness, bereavement, and other negative feelings.

Making Good New Year's Resolutions for 2012

For better health and happiness, make inspiring new year's resolutions

Among the top new years resolutions are resolutions about weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, and debt reduction. After six months, only about half of resolution-makers are still on track to meet their goals. Is it really any wonder why? These resolutions often entail denying oneself immediate pleasures (like that yummy chocolate cake, or that cigarette, or spending money to get that thing you really want) to achieve longer-term wellbeing (like being slimmer, avoiding cancer, or saving money). There are smart ways to achieve these kinds of goals, including breaking the goals down into clear, concrete, and manageable steps and rewarding yourself for good progress. Those strategies, while useful and important, are not the subject of this post.

If you are looking at your list of new year's resolutions and noticing that they look like a list of chores, things you "should" do but do not particularly want to do, then here is a suggestion. Counterbalance all of these resolutions with a resolution that inspires you. Something you just want to do. Something that helps you fulfill a childhood (or adulthood) dream. Something that just makes you happy to be alive for another year. At least as much as denying yourself pleasures, doing things that make life joyous and meaningful will promote your health and wellbeing in the long term - and in the short term too.

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Jenna Baddeley is working on a Ph.D. in social/personality and clinical psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

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