How to Keep Calm and Carry on During the Holidays

The holidays are fast upon us. In the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve will have already come and gone.

Holidays bring much time spent with family from near and far, preparing and making elaborate holiday dinners and attending parties, buying expensive gifts to show loved ones how much we care and decorating our homes in holiday regalia. We may even find ourselves up late into the night baking cookies for our children’s teachers, our neighbors, and our co-workers and supervisors.

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Adding Power to Your New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve lost interest in New Year’s resolutions. I've long since lost the "rah-rah-rah" energy for deciding something, trying to be a new kind of me, with better results in the world out there -- thinner, kinder, richer, organized, highly successful, time for everyone and never missing a yoga class.

And yet, it seems New Year’s resolutions haven’t finished with me yet. Driving along, following the river one afternoon, I was musing on the word "intention." In-tend. Tend-in.

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When Endings are Quiet

Sometimes, endings aren’t synonymous with an overt break, a startling shatter or a definitive finality. Sometimes, endings are quiet.

There is no burning flame, there is no swirl of chaos. It could be the subtleties that shift; particular nuances that roll in and out of our lives like a low tide, unbeknownst to us as we experience moment to moment.

Sometimes relationships begin to alter ever so slightly or fade completely. Sometimes special traditions cease. Sometimes life changes and moves onward. And we may feel hints of loss when this realization hits us.

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Happy New Year 2014

To all of our Psych Central readers, I wish you a very Happy New Year!

I hope 2014 is a good year for you, your family and your friends. I hope the universe makes some of your dreams come true this year, and that you’re successful in overcoming some of your own challenges. May the year be full of the things that bring you more happiness in your life.

We here at Psych Central wish you a very prosperous one in whatever you do.

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A New Type of New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time that we attend to the tick of the clock. As we do so, we reflect on the previous year, resolving to do better this coming year.

Most resolutions people make are repetitive, year after year. We’re going to lose those extra pounds, exercise more, drink less, save money, be better organized, be more patient and spend more time with family and friends.

Wonderful ideas. So how come it takes you (if you’re like most folks) about 7 to 10 days to fall off the wagon?

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Setting Yourself Up for Failure: 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Avoid Making

Ah, New Year's. The time to make resolutions... and then throw them out the window a month later, as we fail to stick even just one of them. I mean, why do we even bother making resolutions in the first place?

To complement all the great things that have been written about how to make and keep good New Year's resolutions, I thought I'd also share some of the absolute worst New Year's resolutions you can make.

You should avoid making these kinds of resolutions, because most people simply won't keep them.

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3 Traits of Failed Resolutions

As the New Year approaches, many of us will be sitting down to reflect on 2013 and create resolutions for 2014.

Of course, many of us also have gotten cynical about setting goals. We’ve read the stories about failure rates. And we probably have first-hand experience of our personal resolutions not working out.

But there’s usually a good reason -- several of them, in fact -- behind unsuccessful resolutions. And it’s not because you lack willpower, self-control or discipline. (Who wants to follow such punitive goals, anyway?)

And it’s not because you aren’t strong enough or smart enough or capable enough or whatever enough.

Here are three traits of resolutions that rarely work -- along with some expert insight into what does.

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5 Questions You Need to Ask About Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s fun to think about New Year’s resolutions, and I always make them (in fact, I make resolutions throughout the year). If my happiness project has convinced me of anything, it has convinced me that resolutions -- made right -- can make a huge difference in boosting happiness.

So how do you resolve well? This is trickier than it sounds.

Samuel Johnson, a patron saint of my happiness projects, was a chronic resolution-maker and resolution-breaker. He alluded to the importance of making the right resolutions in a prayer he wrote in 1764, when he was fifty-five years old.
“I have now spent fifty-five years in resolving; having, from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short. O GOD, grant me to resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions, for JESUS CHRIST’S sake.”
Sound familiar? How often have you thought something along these lines, yourself? The fact that a genius like Dr. Johnson wrote this is very comforting to me.

So, how do you resolve aright, and keep your resolutions? Ask yourself these questions...

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8 Exceptional Ways to Begin the New Year

Another new year. With each new beginning, we look to ways we can reinvent ourselves. We clamor for ways to keep our resolutions.

But what if you put away the resolutions and just consider different ideas to help you live a better life. Not just this year, but throughout the year, any time. Here are eight such ideas.

1. Get an annual mental checkup.

What? What’s that? You go for a physical checkup. You get your eyes checked. Your teeth cleaned. Your auto inspected. Well, then, why are you leaving out the most precious part of you: your mind?

No, you’re not crazy. But your mind may not be in tip-top shape. How about fine-tuning your emotional responses? Refining your decision-making skills? Upgrading your communication skills? Enriching your relationships? A checkup every January can jump-start your New Year so that you reap the benefits all the rest of the months.

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Join Gretchen Rubin’s 21 Day Relationship Challenge

For many people, I’ve noticed, the element of Happier at Home that resonates most is the discussion of relationships.

Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that a key to happiness–probably the key to happiness–is strong relationships with other people, so while I didn’t set out to write a “relationship” book, I’m happy to hear that the book is helping people so much in that area.

We all want a loving, attentive, and engaged atmosphere in our home. And warm relationships will do more than anything to make our home a happy place.

For that reason, in honor of the New Year, I’ve organized a 21 Day Relationship Challenge.

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Rejoining Joy in the New Year

It’s impossible to feel joy every minute of the day. Life is often a roller-coaster. Amid the good times are the inevitable stressors and tough moments. Our emotions also naturally wax and wane.

However, it is possible to rejoin joy, according to professor and psychologist Gerald Young, Ph.D. It is possible to keep returning to joy even after experiencing something difficult. It is possible, he said, to get on a path that leads to joy.

And creating that path is something all of us can work on. “In our efforts to rejoin joy, we can be the source of much of our change process,” Young said. And those changes can be anything from being a more sensitive partner to working harder to switching jobs to becoming more compassionate overall, he said.

Below, Young offered several suggestions on creating positive change in 2013.

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