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Why Do People Make New Year's Resolutions They Don't Keep?

As the new year begins to unfold, we are faced with an old truth: the majority of us make resolutions we can't (and won't) keep throughout the year. What were your New Year's resolutions this year? Better yet, are you still acting on your resolutions now that we're more than a month into 2012?

The goal of a New Year's resolution is to set up an objective which A.) will have an overall positive effect on your life, and B.) you will be able to maintain hopefully for the rest of your life. New Year's resolutions like "joining a gym" or "quitting smoking" simply don't work because they're one-step proposals when in reality, a resolution like quitting smoking requires multiple steps to maintain in the long run. In addition, a resolution like joining a gym is a superfluous resolution unless it stems from a more profound desire like "joining a gym for the purpose of becoming physically healthier and living a longer life with my loves ones."

Our resolutions oftentimes fail because there exist underlying issues which we must first address in order to resolve aspects of our lives with which we are dissatisfied. Once the underlying issues are resolved, many resolutions sort of play themselves out on a day to day basis. For example, you can say you'll quit smoking but until you diminish the nicotine dependence in your brain, it might be much easier said than done. Once you do, you might find that your resolution is coming true on its own as you crave fewer and fewer cigarettes. You may also swear you'll eat healthier this year, but until you balance unstable emotions due to your rocky relationship or stressful job, that might not happen. You have to work out subconscious fears, traumas, and unhealed memories before you can break the unwanted patterns of your life.

Then there are resolutions we should all make and keep because they simply improve our lives, the lives of others, and the world around us. Here are five resolutions you'll want to get started on today:

  • 1.) Resolve to Show More Love and Less Anger: In general, I want you to show more positive emotions and less negative emotions. In going about our daily routines, it becomes difficult not to build up everyday anger, hatred, resentment, and bitterness. This is because life is truly frustrating, people are stubborn, and the systems are created to keep us moving in vicious cycles. But you can and should cleanse yourself of your negative emotions this year by training your subconscious to thrive on positive ones instead. It works like this: the more you feel one type of emotion, the more neurons in your brain develop a relationship with each other based on that emotion. This means that if you're consistently angry throughout the day, there is now a big cluster of angry neurons involved in a close friendship. And more and more of them are created as you continue to experience that emotion. Unfortunately, living on negative emotions is no way to live and can lead to various mental and physical illnesses. Every time
  • you feel a negative emotion coming on, such as being angry with stranger for the way they glance at you, stop yourself and replace it with a positive emotion. Affirm to yourself: "I choose to show love to this person and accept whatever they may think of me instead of retaliating with anger and defensiveness." When you feel angry because, say, someone cut you off on the highway, halt your thoughts and consider: "Is this really worth my time and energy? Will this be what I remember years from now? No. I choose to banish my anger and replace it with forgiveness." As I have said many times before, love is the only emotion which can conquer all other emotions. Sadly, it's also the only emotion we don't show enough of to each other.
  • 2.) Resolve to Forgive: Forgiveness is actually the second resolution I encourage you all to make. We just don't forgive enough, although we might say we do. In reality we don't forgive others, we simply forget their deeds in time (contrary to the popular saying). In time, you forget the ways in which someone has harmed you, but the unpleasant events have forever become imprinted in your mind and now influence the way you view yourself and others. To forgive means to detach: you detach yourself from a situation, and its mental and emotional scars, through the process of forgiveness. Be careful, though, because you have to truly mean your forgiveness and take the necessary steps to purge your subconscious of any unprocessed emotions. Practice forgiveness by telling the person who has done you wrong that you forgive them in a loud voice. Speaking something out loud helps your subconscious mind believe the words you are saying. Try with all your might to forgive and move on; forgiveness is the first step
  • towards progressing in the right direction.
  • 3.) Resolve to Close Open Doors to Your Past: Moving on is my third resolution for this new year. Often we keep doors to our past open and this prevents us from stepping through the door to the future. We either hold a grudge against an old friend, refuse to speak to our mother after a mistake she made 12 years ago, or we keep checking an ex-partner's social page to see who he or she might be dating. Stop doing this! There is no need to look backwards and doing so will impede the progress of your own life. Energetically speaking, we cannot hope to attract a new person, a new job, or a new, more fulfilling situation into our lives if our minds are still functioning at the level of past events. Remember: reality reflects what the mind projects, and if your mind is constantly projecting scenes from a year ago, you are living in the world of back then, not in the world of today. Close the doors to your past and heal your karma by first making a list of any period in your life which seems unresolved (start with your mother!). Then, reevaluate your issues and understand how these unresolved situations are adversely affecting you today. Finally, put an end to that old chapter. If it's your ex that keeps you in the past, write him or her a simple letter stating that you choose to forgive whatever happened between the two of you and move on. If you ended a friendship on bad terms, write a short email wishing your old friend all the best this year and stating that you hold no ill will towards him or her. Very easy steps like this can make a world of a difference in letting go of the vestiges of yesterday and holding onto the promise of tomorrow.
  • 4.) Resolve to Be Healthier: This is a very pragmatic and logical resolution. Begin to take care of your body today, as in, right now! In 1, 5, 10, 20 years from now, your body will thank you by giving you less problems. Stop patronizing fast food places - their healthiest options are still sheer toxic to the body. If you don't have enough time to cook for yourself or don't know how to, there are very quick and simple healthy meal options. Google an easy recipe that's healthy or when you do eat outside of your home, choose the option on the menu with the least amount of fat and the greatest amount of fresh vegetables. Educate yourself on your health. So many people are becoming sick in today's world and the worst part is that most of the time they've inflicted the illness on themselves. More so, the majority of illnesses which plague our world today are totally preventable, such as diabetes and even many types of cancer. I want you to move more; it's as simple as getting off the train one stop early to walk to work or walking to the supermarket instead of taking the car. Nature designed us to be very active, naturally adept creatures, so when we deviate too much from this way of life and fall into a sedentary lifestyle, we become more susceptible to illness. We were meant to walk everywhere, keep our bodies in constant motion, eat organic, unprocessed foods. As a rule of thumb, if you can't pronounce the ingredients on the nutrition label, don't eat the food! And if you haven't gotten your 30 minutes a day of exercise, don't find excuses, even vacuuming or cleaning our your garage can be a good workout.
  • 5.) Create a Bigger Version of Yourself: I want you to reinvent yourself for 2012 - reinvent your goals, rethink your ideals, and re-strategize your brilliant future. Unless you've just undergone a major mental-physical-spiritual transformation last year, chances are you've been the same you for too long. The number one law of the universe is the law of evolution: nothing in this world is stagnant. Everything moves, expands, and evolves into something better, greater, more powerful. Those who don't evolve, don't survive. You must live by this law as well. Give yourself a makeover, learn about a new culture, take up a new hobby, adopt a new philosophy, just do something different! Never settle for that which you feel in your heart is less than your full potential. Remember, the biggest dreamers achieve the most remarkable things. Don't be afraid to go after what you dream, it means you're alive!

Living by the five resolutions above is a guarantee to more fulfillment and inner tranquility. These are principles which we can certainly make more of an effort to incorporate into our lives. Start by adapting these resolutions slowly into your day to day life, along with your other individual resolutions, and feel your sense of well-being soar to new heights.

Yours in Love and Service,
Dr. Carmen Harra


Dr. Carmen Harra

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