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Making a New Year’s Resolution? Consider These 5 Tips

Forty-four percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and I know I always do. Now that I’m obsessed with habits, I’m more inclined to make resolutions than ever, in fact. If my happiness and habits research 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. Here are some tips for making your resolutions as effective as possible.
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A Kinder Take on New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

This time of year inspires us to be "out with the old and in with the new." Is it a healthy path to take or are we caught in the self-improvement vortex?

Perhaps it is our restlessness, our lack of self acceptance and our inability to be with what is that makes this seems like a great opportunity to be better, do better, and have more.

The desire to change can be strong: an urgent craving that fills us with an energy we interpret as our inner voice speaking to us from a deep yearning to make our dreams come true. But is it actually a form of aggression toward ourselves?
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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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Using Yoga to Return to Your Body

The yoga that we practice here in North America has a fascinating and complex history and lineage. There are influences from different branches of Hindu religion, Buddhist philosophy, and the maligned wandering Hatha yogis who displayed extreme postures in the streets of India in the late 1800s.

As a result, we can get mixed messages about what it is we are doing in our yoga. For example, sometimes we get the lesson that the world we live in is an illusion, and that we do our yoga practices to separate ourselves from the ignorance we live in, to wake up from the larger dream. If we can still our minds, the theory goes, we will be free of the pain and distraction of being a human in a complicated world.

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Resolutions: Letting Go of Shoulds this New Year

Around this time of year, you’ll inevitably see articles about how so many of us fail to follow through on our resolutions. Within a few months or even weeks, we drop whatever intentions we originally had.

I think a big reason why we fail to stick to our resolutions is because they’re really "shoulds" -- as in I should be more efficient at work. I should exercise more. I should be more focused on my goals. I should be more organized. I should eat differently. I should look differently.

“Shoulds” don’t speak to our deep desires. Rather, they’re steeped in shame.
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Top 10 Psychology & Mental Health Topics of 2014

Another year has passed and with it, we've all grown a little older. And perhaps a little wiser as well.

But we've also experienced deep loss this year as well, with the tragic suicide of Robin Williams -- just one of the estimated 800,000 people who take their own lives each year. A marker of just how much further we have to go.

Here at Psych Central we try every day to reach more people with our message of hope -- we now serve more than 7 million people from around the world each month. They come here not only to learn about a mental health concern, but also about common psychological topics and issues, and to learn how to improve their relationships and parenting skills. Our two online support communities are now home to over 220 support groups for our 417,000 members.

With a new year comes the potential of a new start and changing some of those aspects about yourself that could use a little improvement. We’ll be here for you to help you with those goals, with great new articles on these topics from experts, professionals and people just like you.

Click through to see our top 10 lists for the World of Psychology blog, our entire blog network, our Pro site, and from our news bureau.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: December 30, 2015

The end of the year beckons us to reflect. All the things we regret saying and not saying, the things we wished we did, and the things we wish we didn't do. When you think back, how do you resolve what's not finished yet and still feel right with your soul?

There is a strong desire to believe that worthiness, success and happiness are saved for special occasions, people, and accomplishments. We will celebrate when we get that promotion. We will finally take that trip when we have enough money. We will buy that fancy dress when we lose those last few pounds. Joy is like the gold at the end of the rainbow. In a desperate chase for the thing that will make us whole, we end up exhausted, empty and depleted.

Perhaps, the key in creating resolutions that we will actually keep is recognizing that external situations won't make us happy. Maybe it's in acknowledging that a wish list will not miraculously cure what ails us nor will vanquishing our wrongs. A year consists of 365 days of loving, failing, trying again and messing up. Staying stuck in our missteps, deprives us of healing that comes from self-acceptance, resilience and personal growth.

As you'll read this week, life isn't supposed to be easy or comfortable. For once, give yourself credit for the hardships you've endured instead of beating yourself up for the things you haven't yet done. If you were to remember where you once was, you'll be amazed with how far you've come.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Are New Treatments for Depression Right Under Our Nose?

“The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.” - Edith Wharton
Yogic breathing, a phone app, and laughing gas may be some of the best new remedies for depression.

Some interesting pilot studies in 2014 are providing hope for the future of depression. Curiously, these new possibilities all involve the mouth and nose. Breathing a certain way, speaking a certain way, and inhaling nitrous oxide all may have potential in reducing symptoms and breaking the cycle of depression.

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Brain and Behavior

The Power of Being Self-Compassionate

Think about a time that you were overly critical with yourself. You looked in the mirror and didn't like what you saw. You told yourself you were too skinny or too fat or even too average.

You picked apart the image looking back at you. Or you forgot something important, or made a mistake and you told yourself you were stupid or incompetent.

Research demonstrates that our brains have a negativity bias, meaning we are more sensitive to negative than positive. This is because in the natural environment, negative signals were a sign of trouble and therefore took up more of our awareness.
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Brain and Behavior

How to Put the Brakes On

A lot of people run through their lives going from one task to another without taking time to stop and smell the roses.

Our society is overworked, and as result, overstressed.

I know what it's like to get so overwhelmed on something that you slowly start to lose your grip on reality. That's just one of the many things I have to deal with while living with schizophrenia.

The point is, it's important to put the brakes on when you start to feel overwhelmed. This is just as important for regular people as it is for people with a major mental illness. However, these two types of people don't react to stress the same way.
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Marriage and Divorce

New Study: How Long Does It Take to Mend a Broken Heart?

Wondering when you'll feel like yourself again?

You've heard it a billion times: "Time heals all wounds." But when you go through a bad breakup, you're probably wondering, exactly how much time are we talking?

From losing your appetite to possibly having negative health affects, you'll probably go through a lot of changes after a relationship ends. So, it's only natural to want to know how long after a breakup we will start to feel like ourselves again.
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The Wisdom of Insecurity: The Promise and Perils of Being in the Moment

When I read The Wisdom of Insecurity by the philosopher Alan Watts during college in the 1960s, it turned my world around. He hammered home a point that is as simple as it is startling: life only exists in the present moment. Rather than blindly pursue a happiness that continually eludes us, we need to open to what is here now.

As Watts puts it,
"If happiness always depends on something expected in the future, we are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp, until the future, and ourselves, vanish into the abyss of death."
Very simple, very profound, but misleading?
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