Psychological and Motivational Factors
We all make new years resolutions - or simple use the beginning of each year as a signpost to improve who we are. Though all of self help is common sense, this blog puts a 2012 twist on it.
New Year's Resolutions That Aren't Losing Weight Huffington Post - January 2, 2012
Each year, many of us resolve to eat healthy food, get fit and, yup, lose weight. And while those goals are as admirable as they are popular -- especially for people who are at a weight-related health risk -- the reality is that fewer than half of people actually stick to their goals six months in. So instead of the tired old promise to lose weight, we have 12 new healthy resolutions to try for 2012.
And while we often glorify sleep deprivation in our society -- pushing people to skimp on sleep to socialize, work or be more "productive" -- it has been linked to serious health problems, including memory impairment, decreased alertness, high blood pressure, stroke and obesity, to name a few -- one recent HuffPost blog compared the sleep deprivation epidemic to the cigarette smoking epidemic.
Make 2012 the year you put sleep back on the priority list.
Sleep is just as important for your health as getting exercise, fresh air and good food, explains HuffPost blogger Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., CEO of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation. "It's an important piece to the overall health puzzle."
Need a little motivation? While Rosenberg says many people are familiar with the short-term affects of sleep deprivation, they don't consider the long-term consequences."If you continue to abuse your sleep, chances are your health will be negatively impacted in the long run," he says, explaining that people often use the same excuses they use when they can't stick to a diet, exercise plan or other health behaviors -- they don't have the time or the discipline. "Like any of those other things, it just takes proper planning and scheduling."
This year, resolve to check the gadgets at the door (research shows using them before bed can disrupt sleep) and commit to at least seven hours a night.
Improve Your Posture
Proper posture can, among other benefits, cut back on the abnormal wearing of joints that causes arthritis, prevent back and muscle aches, and decrease stress on the ligaments that hold the spine together, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Plus, standing up straight has a way of making you simply look better (and often more alert).
According to Expedia.com's 2011 Vacation Deprivation Study, the average American leaves three vacation days unused at the end of the year -- the U.S. actually ranked as one of the most vacation deprived countries.
The top-cited reason for skipping those extra days was lack of planning, the survey revealed, so map out how you're going to spend your 2012 days now. In fact, a 2010 study found that the biggest vacation happiness spike comes from the act of planning the trip.
Kick The Diet Soda Habit
We already know that sugar-packed soda can be a recipe for health disaster -- but in 2011, some disturbing news came out about its calorie-free counterpart. Two studies presented this past summer suggest that diet soda may be associated with a wider waist in humans, and that aspartame (the artificial flavor that makes the drink sweet) raises blood sugar in mice prone to diabetes, The Huffington Post reported when the findings were released.
So why not skip the whole thing for 2012? To kick the habit, first identify what it is that draws you to a diet soda. If it's the caffeine, consider replacing it with unsweetened iced tea, coffee or green tea, says HuffPost blogger Cheryl Forberg, R.D., nutritionist for NBC's "The Biggest Loser." If the fizz is the draw, find a sweet replacement with a naturally carbonated water, like Pellegrino, mixed with just a splash of juice. Of course, water is your best bet -- if you can't stand it plain, add just enough juice to change the color along with an orange or a lime.
Like a diet, depriving yourself completely of something you love can lead to overindulging later, Forberg warns. If diet soda is something you can't do without, she suggests limiting it to a once a week treat or cutting down on the overall number you drink.
Remember To Breathe
Stop Snacking Just To Snack
Mindless eating at work can add up -- one report found that Americans add nearly 600 calories to their daily intake from snacking alone. The next time you're tempted by a treat when you're not actually hungry, have a list in your head of other healthy replacement practices to try instead, Forberg suggests, such as drinking a cup of tea, taking a stroll or walking over for a quick chat break with a co-worker.
Take Makeup Off Before Bed
She says the best way to remove makeup is to use a gentle remover made for sensitive skin, followed by a gentle cleanser and a light moisturizer. "Good old fashioned cold cream does the trick, too, " Krant says. "Of course a skipped night once every few months won't really do anything too awful, unless you get a flake of mascara in your eye while sleeping, but over the long haul, the fewer nights of skin smothered with chemicals and irritants, the better."
Do 10 Minutes Of Yoga A Day
Try taking a yoga class in 2012, or popping in a yoga DVD at home. If you don't have time for a whole session, start small with 10 minutes or so -- for pose ideas, check out these moves to connect the mind and body from HuffPost blogger Elena Brower.
Bike Or Walk To Work Once A Week
Quit Saying You're Sorry -- Unless You Really Are
"I'm an apology addict. Most women I know are similarly afflicted. We think our value as females is dependent on being literally and figuratively pliable to the point of contortions that would make a pretzel or a porn star jealous. And in so doing, we not only devalue our actual important and genuine apologies ("I'm sorry I slept with your brother.") but posit ourselves as being ever in error, constantly over-speaking, overspending, over-laughing, over-crying, overeating, over-existing."
The piece inspired us -- and so next time, before you apologize for bumping in to someone, for not being able to find something in the store or for simply existing, ask yourself: are you really sorry? If not, skip the apology.
Ditch Sky-High Heels
Any heel over an inch and a half will start creating functional and biomechanical problems in your body, says HuffPost blogger Dr. Robert A. Kornfeld, DPM, founder of the Institute for Integrative Podatric Medicine. The human body was built to walk from heel to toe, he explains, and in a high heel, you're walking mostly on the front of the toe. "You're creating a natural imbalance in your walk," he says. "It's like if you drive a car with one tire out of alignment, eventually that tire is going to blow out." And, over time, you start using the muscles of the lower extremity improperly, which can create low back stress, foot pain and knee and hip stress.
If you have to wear a high heeled pump to work, Kornfeld recommends switching to a comfort style shoe for the commute -- and practice lots of stretching (such as yoga) to increase the range of motion and keep the muscles healthy.
Do One Thing A Week Only Because You Want To
The New Year's Resolution We Should Be Making
We all know that popular New Year's resolutions involve dieting, exercise and the nixing of bad habits. But what if we could fix things we didn't even know were wrong with us? Even good people have mental weaknesses. Just ask psychologists, whose research often turns up sour news on the human psyche. We can be jealous and arrogant, willing to look the other way when horrible things are going on, and even the nicest of us harbor subtle racial bias.
In our best New Year's fashion, we asked social scientists to tell us what they see as the worst hidden weaknesses of humans - and whether there's anything we can do to overcome them. Their responses suggest that this year, we should all resolve to see things from others' perspectives.
We Fear the Other
The consequence is that we never get to meet anyone who isn't like us. This, in turn, leads to failing to imagine any Other, and to a loss of desire to even consider the Other as someone who exists, a real human being just like us, except not just like us. At its most innocent, all this fencing-in creates little upticks in closed-mindedness inside one person's skull - missed opportunities for jolts of fun or learning. At its worst, for instance when manipulated by clever demagogues who realize that nothing binds us together more than fear of that ultimate other, the imagined enemy, it leads to the Holocaust, Vietnam, Rwanda, Darfur, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and so on.
What to do? Go visit. Uncozy yourself. Get a move on. Practice loving-kindness with someone truly other. (If you're in academia, maybe take your Republican-voting pariah colleague out for lunch, and listen for a change.) Or, at the very least, next time you find yourself at lunch agreeing with everyone's astute observations, do realize: "Well, duh."
We indulge in ill-informed stereotypes
This study clearly shows that men are just as eager to marry; 33 percent of both sexes want to say "I do." Moreover, men in every age group are more eager to have children: 51 percent of men age 21 to 34 want kids, while 46 percent of women in this age range yearn for offspring. Men are less picky about a partner, too. Fewer men "must have" or regard it as "very important" to have a mate of the same ethnic background (20 percent of men versus 29 percent of women); and fewer say they "must have" or regard it as "very important" to have a partner of the same religion (17 percent of men versus 28 percent of women).
And get this: Men experience love at first sight more often; just as many men under age 35 believe you can stay married to the same person forever (84 percent); and in a committed relationship, men are less likely to want nights out with friends (23 percent versus 35 percent of women); less eager to keep a separate bank account (47 percent versus 66 percent of women); and less keen to take a vacation on their own (8 percent versus 12 percent).
I study the brain in love. My colleagues and I have put over 80 men and women into a brain scanner (MRI), and we found no gender differences in romantic passion. This Single in America study tells it like it is: Men are just as eager to find a partner, fall in love, commit long term and raise a family. And the sooner journalists (particularly those writing for women's magazines), social scientists (particularly those convinced that men are evil), TV and radio talk-show hosts, and all the rest of humanity that berates men begin to embrace these findings, the faster we will find - and keep - the love we want.
We go with our gut
When victims of misfortune are close to us Ñ when we can see and feel their suffering Ñ we are capable of incredible generosity and self-sacrifice. When our connection to victims is less visceral, however, even when we "know" full well of their suffering in a cognitive sense, we are often unmoved by their plight and able to rationalize our inaction. Heinous acts committed by people or groups whom we love and admire can be excused as necessary or accidental, just as relatively benign acts of our enemies are often imbued with evil intent and taken as justification for retribution. Our tendency to mistake what we feel for what we think, especially in the realm of moral judgment and decision-making, plays a central role in intergroup conflict and moral hypocrisy, and because the problem lies as much in our guts as in our minds, it is a challenging weakness to overcome.
My suggestion to friends is to turn the emotional table by submitting judgments to the "shoe on the other foot test." When faced with a difficult moral choice, ask yourself how you would feel and what you would do if a victim of misfortune was your loved one, or the perpetrator of some morally questionable act was you.
We lack empathy
While I think that people broadly recognize the value of this ability for selfish gain (e.g., to be an adept communicator, or to "charm" others), it also plays a critical role in caring for others - empathy most certainly does this in motivating altruistic behavior.
As to what can be done about this limitation? Can we strengthen our ability to be in tune with others and be less focused on the self? I think it begins with endeavoring to hold to the "golden rule" that we should treat others as we wish to treated, and also by trying to imagine ourselves on the outside interacting with us - as someone else on the outside, would like who we are very much? Would we consider ourselves kind, compassionate and considerate, or self-centered, selfish and thoughtless?
In short, always try to put yourself in the other's position before speaking or acting - sounds rather obvious and simple, but it turns out to be quite a bit more difficult than one might think, and I believe a persistent challenge in our interpersonal relationships, both casual and close, that we face throughout our emotional and intellectual development.
We act out of self-preservation
This is not particularly disturbing; what is disturbing is that people who unconsciously find themselves to be similar to sexual harassers tend to let people off the hook for sexual harassment and even go so far to blame the victims of the harassment. They seem to kick these people (typically women) when they are down. This added insult to injury compounds the negative psychological effects of harassment.
Furthermore, the reason for blaming victims of harassment may relate to the same reason they harass in the first place - an inability to see the perspective of others. Harassers and those similar to harassers cannot really see the world from the perspective of other people. They find their own behavior to be normal, acceptable in part because they simply cannot or refuse to see what it does to other people. If you were to boil this message down to a New Year's resolution, I would say to always try to put yourself in someone else's shoes before you do something stupid. It's amazing what people will do without considering others' feelings.
Easy New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Stick To In 2012
Welcome to 2012. What are you going to do to make this year your best yet? And no, we're not talking about unrealistic (yet well-intentioned) promises to yourself such as going to the gym every single day or swearing off your favorite food or calling your mom every single day.
The thing with new year's resolutions is that they're often simply unrealistic. With that in mind, we've put together 11 easy new year's resolutions you can actually stick to. They don't cost anything and require minimal effort -- but could have a big, positive impact on your life this year.
Read through and consider adopting a few (if not all!) of them. If you can come up with any other low-barrier-to-entry new year's resolutions, start a conversation in the comments.
Why bother with resolutions? Because failure inspiresCNN - January 3, 2012
So, why bother with New Year's resolutions? Is there a point to making the same resolutions every year? Lose weight, organize finances, spend more time with the family, blah blah blah. It's like an annual empty promise, so why waste your time? Well, thanks to my wife, I just stumbled on a really good reason. Ten years ago, my family started coming up with our resolutions at the dinner table over the holidays.
It was fun, we laughed and discussed and compared, then wrote our resolutions down and posted them on the fridge. My wife, the brains behind most things in our family, saved those slips of paper, and now we look over our resolutions with the perspective of a decade.
Reading back on what I wrote over the years, there are lots of resolutions I DID keep. Writing them down, sometimes again and again over many years, was a big help.
I resolved annually for seven years (2002 through 2009) to master some specific, painfully complicated computer skills. Thanks to our New Year's ritual and its systematic self-nagging, today I'm professionally certified in those skills. Done.
Resolutions involving something physical don't take seven years as long as they are realistic. I decided 2008 should be the year to learn to lap swim, and I did. Just like the 2003 resolution to run a half-marathon and 2007 to renovate my daughter's bedroom. Done and done.
Resolutions to avoid are ones that depend on others, like 2005's "Learn to play duets with a cellist." The cellist never showed up. Or that are too subjective, as in 2007's "Reduce sugar and caffeine intake." Huh?
But the failures turn out to be the best lessons.
In 2005 I started making resolutions about my eating habits. "Five servings of veggies a day" lasted a few months, but it helped me understand how to track what I eat, and 2010's "Think about what I want to eat before I look at the menu" became a new and ingrained habit.
With the 20/20 of hindsight, the piles of un-met goals in my hobby of playing music are all the same mistake: They are all over-ambitious. Amateur musicians take note: You'll feel a lot more fulfilled if you are frank about your practice time limits.
There is an oddball bit player who shows up when it's time to write resolutions then disappears for a year until it is resolution time again. The home repairs I need to do only bother me slightly, but consistently. Good reason to keep them in focus.
You may not be surprised that my key resolutions for 2012 are similar to what they've been for the past decade. Near the top of the list, yup, is more time with my family, better-organized finances and losing a few pounds.
But the record shows that if I keep at them, keep working out how and why I keep flopping at the same things, perhaps 2012 will be a successful year.
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