With the new year upon us and many of us struggling either to make resolutions or keep the ones we’ve set, Dr. Christine Carter a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and author of RAISING HAPPINESS: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, was kind enough to join me to discuss how we can keep momentum going this year, tips for getting happy in the new year and why sharing your goals on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter might just be a good thing!
Candace Rose: With the new year upon us what can we do to set resolutions we can actually keep?
Dr. Christine Carter: “That’s a great question. I think the most important thing we can do to set a resolution we can actually keep is really just to set, a resolution. One resolution to focus on at a time, and it should be an easy one at that. So breaking that resolution, even if you have a grand vision of how you’ll change over time, really today, this week it should be something pretty easy for you to do. Break it down until it feels almost ridiculously easy to do.”
Candace Rose: And what are some great resolutions that lead to happiness?
Dr. Christine Carter: “Well, that’s another great question. Always thinking about what resolutions will bring more joy or more positive emotions into our lives. A great resolution that leads to more happiness would be to practice gratitude everyday, to think of one thing that you can feel grateful for at the end of the day.
There was a new survey that was done by Hampton Hotels that shows that a large number of people actually have a resolution to be more connected to their friends and family. That’s another example of a great resolution that will bring, for most people a considerable amount of joy and happiness in your life in 2013. Even common resolutions to exercise tend to make people happier, so we need not to forget that the resolutions we’re already making, a lot of the time will make us happier in the new year.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the unusual resolutions that people have kept?
Dr. Christine Carter: “It’s funny because most people don’t make unusual resolutions. Most people resolve to lose weight or exercise or eat healthier- about a third of people in the Hampton survey said that those were the top resolutions. The other really popular ones are to reduce stress, to stay in better touch with friends and family, to cut out smoking or alcohol.
The resolutions that people tend to make, tend not to be surprising. The important thing though, is to make a resolution. When you make a resolution you’re actually 10 times more likely to make that positive change in your life than control groups or people who want to make the same change but don’t formerly resolve to do it.”
Candace Rose: What are some other great ways to keep momentum for our goals this year?
Dr. Christine Carter: “I think one of the most important ways to keep momentum in keeping your resolutions is to get some social support. 21% of people said they had no one to hold them accountable in that Hampton study and I think that’s a really important indicator. If you feel that you have no one to hold you accountable, find somebody. In today’s day and age you can socialize your goals on Facebook or Twitter, or join an online forum like the one I’ve got on ChristineCarter.com to just find a group of people- resolution buddies that are not just going to hold you accountable, but provide the social support that you need to make a change and who are going to help you when you slip and fall and also be there to really celebrate with you when you succeed.”
Candace Rose: Can you tell us more about the forum on your website?
Dr. Christine Carter: “Absolutely. It’s a free online class that I’m running through January 21st where everyday you can watch a new class that will give you some tips and tricks that will keep your resolutions, make the right resolutions and there’s a very active large group of people who are supporting each other as a part of that class. So if you go to ChristineCarter.com you’ll see a little icon about the class and you can just join. It’s not too late to join in, that’s for sure.”
Candace Rose: Absolutely, it sounds great. Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Christine Carter: “There are lots of tips and great information on an infographic which you can find on the Hampton Hotels Facebook page or also on ChristineCarter.com.”