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The One New Year’s Resolution That Creates Lasting Change

Beach Baby

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon

I originally started to write a post offering tons of different New Year’s resolutions and tips to stick to them to create lasting change.

After all, that’s what we bloggers do around December 31st: share our best practices for improving our lives as December rolls into January—compile well-researched suggestions to change and do it consistently, despite knowing most people give up on resolutions within weeks of setting them.

Then I realized that didn’t feel authentic to me.

I don’t actually believe New Year’s Day is any different than any other day. I don’t believe a random point in the time measurement system we’ve created requires us to make a laundry list of things we need to change or improve.

Today is in fact just another day, and tomorrow is one, as well.

I don’t mean to minimize the excitement of the New Year, or any of the days we’ve chosen to celebrate for religious or honorary reasons. I love a big event as much as the next person; in fact, I sometimes bust out the champagne for parallel parking well or using a really big word in a sentence.

What I’m saying is that New Year’s resolutions often fail for a reason, and it’s only slightly related to intention or discipline.

Resolutions fail because they don’t emerge from true breakthroughs—they’re calendar-driven obligations; and they often address the symptoms, not the cause of our unhappiness.

Some resolutions are smart for our physical and emotional health and well-being. Quitting smoking, losing weight, managing stress better—there are all healthy things.

But if we don’t address what underlies our needs to light up, order double bacon cheeseburgers, and worry ourselves into frenzies, will it really help to vow on one arbitrary day to give up everything that helps us pretend we’re fine?

It’s almost like we set ourselves up for failure to avoid addressing the messy stuff.

Why We’re Really Unhappy

I can’t say this is true for everyone, but my experience has shown me that my unhappiness—and my need for coping mechanisms—come from several different places:

  • I’m dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future.
  • I’m comparing myself to everyone else—their accomplishments, the respect and the attention they garner, and their apparently perfect lives.
  • I’m feeling dissatisfied with how I’m spending my time and the impact I’m making on the world.
  • I’ve lost hope in my potential.
  • I’m expecting and finding the worst in people.
  • I’m turning myself into a victim or a martyr, blaming everyone else.
  • I’m spiraling into negative thinking, seeing everything as a sign of doom and hopelessness
  • I’m assuming there should be a point in time when none of the above happens anymore.

The last one, I believe, is the worst cause of unhappiness. All those other things I mentioned are human, whether we experience them persistently or occasionally.

We’ll do these things from time to time—and they’ll hurt. In the aftermath, we’ll want to do all those different things that every year we promise to give up.

We’ll want to eat, drink, or smoke away our feelings. Or we’ll want to work away our nagging sense of inadequacy. Or we’ll judge whether or not we’re really enjoying life enough and in the very act of judging detract from that enjoyment.

So perhaps the best resolution has nothing to do with giving up all those not-so-healthy things and everything to do with adopting a new mindset that will make it less tempting to turn to them.

An Alternative to Resolutions

Maybe instead of trying to trim away all the symptoms of our dissatisfaction, we can accept that what we we really want is happiness—and that true happiness comes and goes. We can never trap it like a butterfly in a jar.

No amount of medication or meditation can change the fact that we will sometimes get caught up in thoughts and emotions.

What we can do is work to improve the ratio of happy-to-unhappy moments. We can learn to identify when we’re spiraling and pull ourselves back with the things we enjoy and want to do in this world.

Instead of scolding ourselves for all the things we’re doing wrong and making long to-do lists to stop doing them, we can focus on doing the things that feel right to us.

This may sound familiar if you’ve read about positive psychology—I’m no posi-psy expert, and to my knowledge no one is since the industry is unregulated.

But it doesn’t take an expert to know it feels a lot better to choose to nurture positive moments than it does to berate myself for things I’ve done that might seem negative—all while plotting to give them all up when the clock strikes tabula rasa.

4 Simple Steps to Increase Your Happiness Ratio

This is something I’ve been working on for years, so it comes from my personal experience. As I have worked to increase my levels of satisfaction, meaning, and happiness, I have given up a number of unhealthy habits, including smoking, overeating, and chronically dwelling and complaining.

That all required deliberate intention, but it was impossible until I addressed the underlying feelings. I still have some unhealthy habits, but I know releasing them starts with understanding why I turn to them.

Starting today, and every day, regardless of the calendar:

1. Recognize the places where you feel helpless…

…the housing situation, the job, the relationship, that sense of meaningless. Then plan to do something small to change that starting right now.  Acknowledge you have the power to do at least one small thing to empower yourself.

Don’t commit to major outcomes just yet. Just find the confidence and courage to take one small step knowing you’ll learn as you go where it’s heading. As you add up little successes, the bigger picture will become clearer. This isn’t major transformation over a night. It’s a small seed of change that can grow.

2. Identify the different events that lead to feelings that seem negative…

…talking to your downer cousin, overextending yourself at work, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much.

Whatever it is that generally leaves you with unhappy feelings, note it down. Work to reduce these, making a conscious effort to do them on one fewer day per week, then two, and then three. The key isn’t to completely cut out these things, but rather to minimize their occurrence.

3. Identify the things that create positive feelings…

…going to the park, painting, looking at photo albums, or singing. Whatever creates feel-good chemicals in your head, note them down and make a promise to yourself to integrate them into your day. As you feel your way through your joy, add to this. Learn the formula for your bliss.

Know that these moments of joy are a priority, and you deserve to receive them. When you’re fully immersed within a happy moment of your own choosing, you’re a lot less likely to get lost dwelling, obsessing, comparing, judging, and wishing you were better.

4. Stay mindful of the ratio.

If you’ve had an entire week that’s been overwhelming, dark, or negative, instead of getting down on yourself for falling that low, remind yourself only your kindness can pull you out. Tell yourself you deserve to restore a sense of balance—to maintain a healthy ratio.

Then give yourself what you need. Take a personal day at work and take a day trip. Go to the park to relax and reflect. Remind yourself only you can let go of what’s been and come back to what can be.

It’s not about perfection or a complete release from all the causes of unhappiness. It’s about accepting that being human involves a little unhappiness—but how often it consumes us is up to us.

This might not be a lengthy list of unhealthy behaviors you can give up and how, or a long list of suggestions for adventure and excitement in the new year. But all those things mean nothing if you’re not in the right head space to release the bad and enjoy the good.

Resolve what you will this year, but know that happiness is the ultimate goal. It starts in daily choices, not lofty resolutions–on any day you decide to start.

Photo by thephotographymuse

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series (which includes one free eBook) and Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself. She's also the co-founder of the eCourse Recreate Your Life Story: Change the Script and Be the HeroFollow @tinybuddha for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

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  • http://taught2think.wordpress.com/ Declan

    Hey Lori, this post is spot on in so many ways.

    We tend to focus on changing the unhealthy behaviors in our lives that hold us back without ever really looking past the ‘effect’ and instead focus on the ’cause’. I think if we stop trying to fix our problems by focusing on them and spend more time focusing on what makes us happy then our unhealthy behaviors would begin to dissipate as a result of a much more positive outlook.

    The best new years resolution we can make is to become aware of why we participate in unhealthy behaviors rather than trying to diminish the behavior itself. More often than not we try to give up bad habits by focusing on the habit itself, this is a tricky way to challenge a habit we are trying to break, simply because our focus is on the negative from the get go.

    An example of a positive way to give up a bad habit would be to focus on a positive habit which diminishes the impact of the bad one. If you smoke, then start running. ‘Running’ is a positive habit, but it also counter acts the smoking habit as both cannot exist in the same body if done regularly.

    The point you make about people comparing themselves to others is a big problem in society. When we compare ourselves to others, it is always a comparison to someone who we think is better off than us. Lets face it, if we were to compare our lives to people who are less fortunate than ourselves then we would feel more positive about our current situation. To give gratitude for the abundance in your life compared to others living in poverty can give us a positive perspective to the true reality that exists outside. This is another example of replacing a negative habitual view with a positive one.

    Happy New Year to everyone, and take the time to appreciate the things in your life that you may be taking for granted.

  • http://www.onekindwordproject.org/ OneKindWord

    I love step one. Making giant leaps and big changes can be intimidating. But if you take small steps forward it can really help ease you into something.

  • http://www.rebuildyourlifecoach.com Harriet Cabelly

    Brilliant post!! This is a message that needs to be emphasized again and again. Our society is into quick fixes; therefore, address the symptoms. Dull the emotional pain, lonliness, depression, with that drink or two or three till you can’t feel the bad anymore. Take away the physical pain with a pain-killer pill. Overeat to fill the void and emptiness. These are all the quick ways to reduce the bad feelings that we’ve never learned to deal with and therefore cannot bear to tolerate. And of course it takes a lot longer and requires a lot more work. And so what do we get from all this – new and additional problems – alcholism, drug addictions, eating disorders.
    So yes, the long term resolutions come with dealing with the root causes. Teaching and helping people withstand the pain while going through it, is the hard part. It’s scary not knowing if you’ll come out to see the light in one piece. We have to give ourselves permission to go through it all, slowly and with a lot of support. Only then can we have true healing and change.

  • Tee Fimmano

    Terrific post, Lori!! (as usual) :) !! I’d like to add just one thing. “If you have low expectations, everything makes you happy.” Thank you!! And Happy New Year! :D

  • Tony Applebaum

    Wow. Lori this one really resonated with me today. Maybe you were reading my thoughts. Namaste for all of your wonderful posts. It is nice to know that there are others out there who are sharing the same experiences that I am. Happy New Year. Hope that 2011 is wonderful for you.

    Peace,
    Tony

  • http://twitter.com/mjheeke MJ

    I’ve been searching for a resolution for the past few days, but nothing has stayed with me for longer than 30-40 minutes. Having read this post, I’ve decided to renew my 2010 resolution to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative! As a bonus: kicky song to go along! The Bette Midler/Bing Crosby version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z45EB4TiYz4 May your 2011 be filled with wonderful surprises, Lori!

  • Alive Again 1111

    Bravo for this wonderful post!!! I personally feel that resolutions every New Year are a setup for disappointment, failure and self-sabatoge. That’s why I don’t make them. I have learned that if I can keep my life in today and more importantly, in the moment, that my life flows so much easier. Does it mean I have days that are completely stress, guilt, anger or grief free? Absolutely not. It’s what I do with mself when those emotions are occurring for me. Let’s face it. Life happens whether we participate in it or not. I do my best every day to practice bringing myself out of those negative waves I can sometimes ride. It’s my choice to get out of the negativity and feel the joy. Of course, in order to get out of the not-so-wonderful emotional states I can find myself in, I have to feel the emotions, acknowledge that they exist in me and then release them to a power greater than myself and ask for help to transform them into something better. I am a work in progress but this work of art is getting more incredibly beautiful by the day!!!

    Love, light, peace and bright blessings to you!

  • Vera

    Hey Lori.
    I loved your post and I know one thing for sure: one of my New year’s resolutions is to go on following you on twitter and reading your posts here. In general I remember the exact moment important things happen in my life. I remember when I first met my best friends and when I decided to do something really important. In the case of Tiny Buddha the other day I was trying to remember the first time I read you and I couldn’t, but truth is that from that day on I have been reading you and your simple wisdom for complex lives almost everyday. So, I’d like to thank you very much for sharing your feelings, you life, your wisdom with us!
    In spite of what you said in the post, and I agree with that, I wish you, as we say here in Brazil a very prosperous New Year !
    Vera

  • Mark

    Hi Lori,

    Great post again! Like most of the people that commented, i feel the same – that you really put out some great stuff. Im new to Tiny Buddha, but i do read alot of blog feeds. By far, i look forward to reading Tiny Buddha before any others. In fact, im thinking of really trying to simplify for the new year and may cut out some, but i have learned much here already!

    Keep up the great work!
    Mark

  • Mary

    I find this post to be especially good. Breaking through is really what moves me. It’s when I finally ‘catch on’ and get behind my choices/changes/whatever that I can change habits and move to new places.

  • Faith

    Hey Lori,

    Way to keep it real! I couldn’t agree more.

  • http://www.30go30.com Dr. Pete

    I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple of months about the difference between resolutions and resolve. When I’m resolved to do something, I don’t need an arbitrary reason to do it – it gets done. Too often, resolutions are just a form of procrastination for me. On January 1st, EVERYTHING will magically be different, and somehow I’ll get it done. Somehow, that never seems to pan out.

    Back in November, I decided to look at the things I’d really been putting off (and that were on deck again for 2011) – the stuff that was 1-3 years on the to-do list. I just started doing it. Something that I thought would be really tough (incorporating my business) wasn’t so tough, and it energized me. I’ve ended up pulling at least half-a-dozen big items off the long-term to-do list and polishing them off, one by one. It feels great, and 2011 is going to start with the cleanest slate I’ve had in a long time.

  • Elizabethsadhu

    Brilliant! Thanks Lori! You are awesome. Beautifully said. AND I agree. I stopped making resolutions a long while ago. I feel that every day is a new day and I am on the complete, abundant, unconditional self love journey and every minute is a new minute, eh?

    love and light to you!

    Elizabeth in Oregon

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  • http://www.jotracey.com.au Jotracey

    Loved this post more than I can say. Thankyou

  • http://onelovelexy.wordpress.com/ Onelovelexy

    I agree with your ideas of resolutions vs. changes. I still think the new year is good time to reflect if we have stayed true to the path we have set out to create. A fresh calendar offers new tweeks to old habits.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Declan,

    Thank you for such a thoughtful, inspiring comment. And what a smart idea about focusing on a positive habit instead of trying to break a negative one. You bring up so many important points. Thank you for getting in the conversation!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Beautifully said. It’s taken me a very long time to learn to sit with a negative feeling, but they all pass eventually. It’s an ebb and flow, and no state is permanent. I think you’re right about resolutions often leading to disappointment.

    One year I did something kind of fun in place of making resolutions. A friend and I each made five predictions for each other and then read them the following year. It was kind of cool to see that some of them were fairly accurate. It wasn’t about us promising to ourselves that we’d change. It was about recognizing beauty and potential in each other.

    Love and light back to you. Thank you for being part of the conversation =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, and thank you right back. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    “A complete, abundant, unconditional self love journey” — what a beautiful affirmation Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing this, and love and light back to you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s an interesting point about resolutions and resolving. I’ve found that a resolution doesn’t always come with an exact goal or plan; it’s more of an idea that I’ll get to, whereas resolving implies commitment.

    Congrats on incorporating your business. I know how easy it is to procrastinate on the big stuff and how rewarding it feels to finally jump in. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2011!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s great Faith. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Mary,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve learned through the years that no one, myself included, makes a change until they’re ready–until they truly understand the need and the payoff and find the strength to do it. It’s kind of ironic that on New Years we suddenly think massive transformation is instantly possible in multiple areas of our lives when in all reality one authentic breakthrough is huge, and usually well worked for.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Mark,

    You’ve given me such a gift with your comment! I love running Tiny Buddha, and there’s nothing more gratifying than knowing it has a positive effect. So thank you–I’m so glad you enjoy the site!

    Wishing you a healthy, happy new year =)
    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Vera! I’m so glad you’ve found the site helpful. I have to say, though, a lot of the wisdom has come from readers who have generously shared their insights and stories. The community truly makes this site, and I’m so grateful for everyone in it. Thank you for being part of it!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Sounds great MJ–both the resolution and the kicky song! Thanks for attaching. Put a big smile on my face =) I love Bette Midler!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Nice to know we’re on the same page! I’ll look forward to learning more of our shared thoughts in 2011 =)

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for commenting Tee! Expectations are a funny thing. If you expect too much, you’ll likely end up disappointed. If you don’t expect anything, you might create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s such a hard thing to do, but I work at minimizing expectations altogether. I think you’re onto something about that being the key to happiness. A happy new year to you, too!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Harriet,

    Your comment resonated with me in a huge way. Especially this part: “it’s scary not knowing if you’ll come out to see the light in one piece.” I know that feeling so well!

    About quick fixes: I was reading something the other day that said the best way to sell any product is to present it as the magic bullet–the only one simple thing you’ll ever need to accomplish X, Y, or Z. According to the article, these products tend to sell 4 times better than a proven system that requires serious effort.

    It’s hard to do the hard work. It’s messy to do the messy work. But there just aren’t any shortcuts if what we really want is happiness.

    Thanks as always for sharing your insights!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    And I love the name you’ve chosen. One Kind Word–what a powerful message. Thank you for reading and commenting. =)

  • Anonymous

    happy new year 2011

  • C Pondelli

    Hi Lori,

    I loved this post, and can relate. The root of our unhappiness you describe struck a cord, and will help me remain focused – I see myself in that list.

    Recently, after some time of contemplation over a negative situation in my life, I’ve taken positive steps to address it. I’m following my bliss, passion for a piece of life that I left by the wayside a long time ago. As I take steps in this positive direction my outlook brightens and I feel the spring back in my step.

    Like you, I find that New Years has its place in celebration, but so many more of my days throughout the year are more note worthly and I celebrate those far more than the one that reminds me I should change my calendar. It may be a reminder for me that time is passing, and that it would be best for me to let go of the negative and get on with the positive aspects of living. And, doing that, like most of life is a step / day at a time.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I bet a lot of us do! I think it’s human nature to do those things from time to time. I’m so happy for you that you’ve moved in the direction of your bliss and passion. There’s nothing greater we could want for each other in life. Wishing you health, happiness, and peace. =)

    Lori

  • Pete

    Lori, You are getting warm. It’s all about BEING awake. One cannot “do” their dharma. Look into Kelly McGonigal’s work on willpower. See if this leads you anywhere, too. http://bit.ly/2cA2PJ

  • VedicVirtuoso

    Thanks for the plug Lori!

    Great post. The theme of this post reminds me of a book by Marci Schimoff – Happy for No Reason. For those who resonated with this post, Marci’s book may be a good read for those looking for additional guidance/direction into putting this into practice. (I know you would enjoy it, if you’re not aware of it yet. :)
    here’s to a great 2011!
    jason

  • B.

    A friend of mine forwarded this to me as i have the same feelings towards new years. i love your

    message and i don’t want to point out what i believe is a flaw just to be “right” but to help. Allow me

    to regurgitate others to get my point across.

    Happiness as a goal is a shallow and dangerous goal. The pursuit of happiness is the source of all

    unhappiness. It requires conditions to be ideal in order for it to be in affect.

    Inner peace is a healthier goal i believe. Conditions can and eventually will not be ideal but your deep

    rooted calm will not leave you and prevent from a downward spiral.

    sorry about the quick comment, keep up the good work,

    B.

  • Robyn

    This is tremendously awesome. Thank you for your brilliant work and clear and courageous voice.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you, as well. What an amazing compliment!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    A powerful distinction! I think happiness comes and goes and inner peace is likely just as impermanent. All states of mind go through natural ebbs and flows. If we can embrace that and learn to ride the waves, so to speak, I suspect we’ll (ironically) be a lot happier and a lot more peaceful in the long run! Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate learning from your perspective!

  • http://www.enricohernandez.com Enrico

    Another great post Lori, especially when you said this:

    “True happiness comes and goes. We can never trap it like a butterfly in a jar.”

    Enrico

  • http://www.enricohernandez.com Enrico

    Another great post Lori, especially when you said this:

    “True happiness comes and goes. We can never trap it like a butterfly in a jar.”

    Enrico

  • AK

    Thanks for this great post. What an eye-opener!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! Thanks for the book recommendation. Sounds great–I will definitely check it out =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Enrico. I’m glad you found it helpful. I think a lot of dissatisfaction in life comes from the pursuit of happiness as an enduring state of mind. It’s just not possible. Happy New Year =)

  • fortuna

    This is a great Post. Realistic and grounded in ones present situatuation at any given moment that one chooses to enact this positive advice

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you found it helpful!

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  • http://www.bridgetpilloud.com Bridget Pilloud

    I deeply love the practical nature of this post, Lori. Tiny, tangible changes + recognition of priorities equals a change to the whole equation.
    Thank you for making this so clear!

  • Anonymous

    Great post. It reminded me of this quote:

    “New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.”

    — Hamilton Wright Mabie

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  • Alejando

    Hi Lori. I’m from Mexico. Since 2002 I’ve taking my new year resolutions quite serious: I measure them, give them a lot of follow up and even grade their degree of accomplishment monthly. This have given me a lot of perspective, knowledge, and as you very well put it, of empowerment. Nevertheless, I loved you post because it allowed me to understand why some of my resolutions are eventually accomplished and why others end up being a headache. It’s what’s underlying in one’s resolutions what matters. Spreading joy, being a better human being, living the moment, feeling better, establishing conditions for living a happier day. Thank you very much, wish you and all your readers a good year.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Alejandro,

    It’s a pleasure to meet you! Your approach to resolutions is impressive and inspiring. With that type of insight into and commitment to your goals, I bet it’s a lot easier to meet your goals for growth and positive change. I’m glad my post provided some new insight into the resolution-setting process. Wishing you a healthy, happy 2011 =)

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for sharing that quote–I hadn’t seen it before. This part is interesting to me: “…and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.” I wonder what the writer considers the cause of the darkness to come….

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Well everything’s a little tiny here at Tiny Buddha =) Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m so glad you found this post thought-provoking!

  • http://jakyastikblogs.blogspot.com Jaky Astik

    Know something, my new year’s resolution is to count my blessings morning and evening. It’s pretty simple. Who said resolutions had to be the hard ones. It’s simple. It’s easy and it makes my life happier and more fulfilled. I’m so happy tiny buddha exists with my morning coffee. A perfect breakfast break of motivation and life :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Well that sounds like a powerful resolution. Thank you for sharing Jaky. =)

  • http://twitter.com/jacquesbenimble jacquesbenimble

    Happy New Year, Lori!

    I have been following your work here at Tiny Buddha silently for quite some time, but I was so inspired by this post that I felt I needed to let you know. For years I found myself creating unrealistic goals in an attempt to inspire change, but was always unsuccessful. Now I am trying to focus on staying mindful and managing my stress in order to better myself in every way possible.

    Here’s to ridding myself of negative energy and creating lasting change in 2011!

    Cheers,
    Jacqueline

  • Pauly Paul

    I think my favourite line in this article, the one that made me stop and immediately reread it, was;

    “I’m assuming there should be a point in time when none of the above happens anymore.”

    Like turning on a light in my head.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That was a big insight for me, too. Most of my life I’ve pushed for perfection. There’s something really comforting about taking everything one moment at a time and realizing nothing will ever be perfect–it’s all about balance!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That sounds like a wonderful plan! Those are the same things I’ve been working on, and I find it makes a big difference. Wishing you a wonderful 2011! =)

  • Pauly Paul

    heh, it’s funny you should say that. I often say “it’s all about balance” myself

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting insight. I took “the coming of darkness” in the literal sense to mean the coming of the night time. But now you made me look at it completely different! Thanks again. Keep up the great work. I wish you all the best for the New Year.

  • sparrow

    This is a beautiful, simple, and logical way of understanding and accepting life as it unfolds. Thank you Lori and tiny buddha

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  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. Thank you for reading and being part of Tiny Buddha =)

  • Jen

    Great quote. New Years Resolutions or changes in one’s lifestyle can be so overwhelming! Personally I admit that I often focus on the goal rather than the actual process. Thank you for sharing! It has definitely shifted my perspective on the journey, at least for the time being. I should write it down for a constant reminder :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I think it’s also partly a monkey-see-monkey-do sort of thing. Everywhere you look, people push change right before the New Year. It feels imperative to amp up improvement efforts when it most often just sets us up for failure. I have to say setting no resolutions was incredibly empowering this year. =)

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  • Gilcia1

    Very nice post, thank you Lori:-). I entered the new year 2011 making little steps to big changes. I’m in the middle of reading the famous book ‘The Power of Now’ and I’m finding that your writing complements my journey into more conscious life and happiness as a result of it.
    Over the years I mastered negative thinking and putting myself through situations that made me deeply unhappy. I’m also realising how search for approval and love from others or things makes me needy and how tense I get from negative charge I carry towards others.
    I recognised two tools that help me to make changes: by accepting myself in a situation I might find myself in and being aware of what emotions, and bodily sensations it brings. The changes are in my attitude towards a situation or person and that seems to shift me above the usual response pattern such as crying, criticising, judgmental thought, self-pity, compulsive eating, etc. Any action is worst than no action they say…two steps forward one back. After all it’s life in all colours so I take it as a play that has many outcomes.
    Well, thank you for advices, i will surely practise them this year:-)!
    Dee

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Dee! The Power of Now is one of my favorite books. It changed my perspective and attitude in so many ways. It sounds like you’ve made some really positive changes. Thank you for commenting and sharing them here. I appreciated learning a little about your experiences. =)

  • Joe

    I think the surest way to happiness is through meditation. Take a look at this inspiring TED talk by the happiest person in the world (as measured through brain waves) – http://www.ted.com/talks/matthieu_ricard_on_the_habits_of_happiness.html

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for commenting, Joe, and also for the link! I’m a huge fan of TED talks, and I look forward to checking that one out.

  • Sarah

    LOVE THIS!

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  • http://twitter.com/jaclynmullen Jaclyn Mullen

    Wow, way to be spot on. This post addresses the big picture here; happiness comes and goes in ratios as you said. The main goal is to be happy the majority of the time but it’s the unhappy moments that allow us to feel joy and appreciation after we have worked through them. Your post reminds me of this quote from Khalil Gibran: “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Thanks for the reminder that each day is another day to be happy!
    Signing off,
    Jaclyn Mullen, http://www.thejaclynofalltrades.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome–thank you for sharing this wonderful quote!

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  • http://www.reflectingalife.com/ Elle

    Another gem Lori.  It’s all about old habits of thought and therefore being.  Being happy can be as simple as a choice to be.  If every day we woke up and imagined the happy day before us, before too long it becomes our habit of being.  We begin to expect to have a happy day and nine times out of ten, things show up that lead to more happiness.  Persistence is all that is needed.  

    And this coming from a recovering procrastinator!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=556753996 Shawna Anderson

    It’s not about perfection or a complete release from all the causes of unhappiness. It’s about accepting that being human involves a little unhappiness—but how often it consumes us is up to us.
    These two lines really hit me. Society is so busy blaming and pointing fingers for any and every thing, but the simple and most important things are still in our control. 

    Thank you for such a powerful reminder. Happy 2012!

  • http://www.exploremetaphors.com/ Caraperch

    “improve the ratio of happy-to-unhappy moments” — this statement really resonated with me. Sometimes, you read about a tired subject (resolutions) through a new perspective and wham — clarity clobbers you over the head. =)

    Thank you for being a continual source of inspiration for me every day. You are truly a blessing. I hope you know that your clear, beautiful message spirals outward through this community. I’ve introduced this blog to many friends & family.

  • http://www.exploremetaphors.com/ Caraperch

    Thank you for this perspective! A teacher of mine always said that when a person wants to change, they naturally prefer to add rather than subtract. Her “trick” was to focus on a positive behavior that would slowly push the negative habit out of the picture – like your running/smoking example. Then you don’t feel the void of losing something that once held purpose in your life, even if it was harmful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000638362807 Julie Lombardo

    Happy New Year Lori♥ 

  • http://profiles.google.com/ellenhoward60 Ellen Howard

    Perfect info to start 2012. Thank you!

  • http://zeroto60andbeyond.com Barbara Hammond

    Love this Lori.  Someone commented about resolutions being procrastination and I believe that’s true.  It’s good to have goals but if we don’t live in the moment we miss a lot of really great stuff.

    I’m so happy to have ‘met’ you this year.  Maybe I’ll come up with another guest post next year.  For now I’m just happy we connected, happy my blog is still growing and I’m still loving  doing it.  Everything else will fall into place.
    Happy New Year!
    b

  • Barrett

    Thank you for the inspiring post. I always find myself reflecting and dwelling on the past around this time of year. Your post was a good reminder to stay present regardless of the calendar. Thanks again and Happy New Year.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Sounds like a very wise teacher! I love the idea of replacing a behavior rather than trying to fight it.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much Barbara! I’m happy to have met you too. In answer to your question on your blog, I do believe in miracles. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Happy New Year to you as well!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Happy New Year Julie!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thank you. Your comment really made me smile. I’m so glad Tiny Buddha has been helpful to you and your friends! =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Shawna. Happy New Year! =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Beautifully written Elle!

  • Bloominwild89

    WOW, EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED IN THIS LAST HOUR OF 2011 ;)

    SO much LOVE,
    Sarah

  • Mphan

    Thank you Lori!!!

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  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Much love to you Sarah! =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome!

  • http://www.apeacefulpath.com Karen Mead

    I love this idea too – replacing just seems happier!  Great post Lori :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Karen. =)

  • http://twitter.com/Jmanlowe Life Design, Inc.

    I love this post, one of my favorite topics to work with when functioning as a writing & publishing coach.

  • http://twitter.com/Jmanlowe Life Design, Inc.

    I love this post, one of my favorite topics to work with when functioning as a writing & publishing coach.

  • Tazchicken

    I’d like to see some advice on what to do when one can’t avoid talking to those “downer people”. For example, I find my mother is a very “down” person a lot of times. We butt heads all the time. 

    I know it takes two to argue, but when I see advice like “try to see these people or talk to these people less”, what is the advice for people who can’t avoid “downer” people? Whether at work, home, school, etc.? 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    There is another post on the site you may want to check out:

    http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-negative-people-or-difficult-people/

    I hope this helps!

    Lori

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  • Healthy Hero

    This video is great to get motivated and commit to better health. http://youtu.be/EeAJNWT_bkI

  • http://projectsimplelife.com/ Mariel

    Even though this is an older post, I came across it again and I must say this whole idea of no resolutions and just learning to be aware of the reasons for your desire to change certain things/negative thoughts/life in general is a great reminder for everyone. I’m always striving to be a better version of myself and sometimes I beat myself up when I can’t live up to the expectations I set for myself… in turn feel like I dissapoint not only myself but others who expect much of me. Thank you for the read. It’s an oldie, but a great goodie.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, Mariel. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up–instinctive, even. I know I’ve been there many times before. Glad you enjoyed this. =)