TED Conversations

Melissa Ganus

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What are your New Year's resolutions?

Last year, Sajeesh Ragavan posted this question at http://www.ted.com/profiles/933068

Now, having made it through the 21st of December, 2012, it seems like exactly the right time to post it again!

I've been inspired by Dr Mike Evans short video about how much more successful New Year's resolutions tend to be compared with making resolutions at other times of year. Just posted a TEDed and would welcome your thoughts and feedback: http://ed.ted.com/on/cu5IwKY6

Happy New Year!!!


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    Jan 3 2013: Happy New Year! Just finished my new exercise routine (yay for Kinect & the privacy of our own home!). And delighted to see all the great comments that have been posted here. My follow up question: what tricks do you use to make it easier to change your habits?

    For example, my self discipline is highest in the AM, so I'm psyched about getting up and into the living room for a workout first thing, before the busyness of the day makes working out a lower priority. My partner is starting to workout, too, but has a different routine for his first few minutes in the AM, so we've agreed that I'll do my workout then leave the Xbox/Kinect on for him. That way I don't need to nag - it's up to him whether he works out or just turns it off.

    Developing better flossing habits is another example of how I'm tricking myself to follow through on my intentions, riffing on the psychology concepts of priming (ref Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein). By leaving the floss out on the bathroom counter, I've got a better visual prime than if I keep it in the cabinet. The main objective I have with the primes is to get myself to be more mindful when those decision points come up - I see the floss and I ask myself the question: "so, are you gonna floss today?" The answer isn't a consistent "yes!" yet, so I keep asking. Just being mindful at "choice points" has been making it a lot easier to divert from my autopilot habits more regularly. And I know 100% is hard to maintain, so I try to start each day with intentions to try again, whether I succeeded or not the day before.

    This "learning new habits" is the kind of stuff I love to teach, so any of your favorite examples could be great for sharing with my students. Thanks!
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      Jan 4 2013: I really like your mindful way of convincing yourself to do things. You know, last year was the first year I could accomplish so many things I am satisfied with. It happens to be the same year I started following a different logic.

      I read about Carl Rogers theory of client/person-centered therapy (1951), which has evolved to become a branch of psychology, positive psychology. As you know, this theory states that we are born with an intrinsic self actualizing ability. It believes in the good nature of humans. The main aim of our actions is to actualize ourselves.

      When you observe our *bad* habits you don't see evilness or the lust to destroy ourselves. They start as acts to lower our anxiety, lessen the stress, and make life a bit easier for us. We start them without thinking, emerging from the hopelessness and frustration. Hoping they would work. Some work momentarily, but as soon as we get back to our former state, our poor minds/ consciousnesses/ selves remember the last thing that has worked and do it again and again and again. I don't even know if this is scientifically valid, but I know that this has helped me make peace with myself. I have no bad habits. I only have good habits done wrongly.

      Same thing apply to not sticking to the good habits. That needs energy, and we are doing just fine without this extra energy. Maybe that's what laziness is about. So once again, I could make peace with my laziness lol

      Started to show myself that there is nothing wrong with wanting to do nothing, and with lowering my anxiety. And that its not a matter of what I SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do. I am here to do the best for myself, because I love myself.

      So it became a matter of what I WANT to do because I'd LOVE to.

      And after exerting ANY amount of work, I get myself a cookie lol or go to the beach for a walk or do anything I want to do. Never went hard on myself. I am not living to punish myself. if I don't do it, I don't, but if i do, I will just make myself happier!

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