A Key To Happiness: Figuring Out How to Keep Your Resolutions

Today's post is from special guest Gretchen Rubin, host of The Happiness Project.  If you haven't stopped by her blog, you'll find yourself immersed in simple-profound points about how to maximize happiness in everyday life.  I highly recommend it!

A Key To Happiness: Figuring Out How to Keep Your Resolutions

Showletter Before I
started my Happiness Project, I -- like everyone -- had repeatedly made
resolutions to make positive changes in my life.

Since I started the Happiness Project,
I’ve managed to do a better sticking to these resolutions. Recently I
asked myself—why? What was different? Two reasons: accountability
and salience.

ACCOUNTABILITY is a key aspect to sticking
to a resolution. You must have a way to record your goals, your successes, and
your failures. I make a big chart each month, modeled on the virtue chart Benjamin
describes in his Autobiography,
on which I score myself each day.

Many readers have asked to see my scoring
charts, so I’m prettifying them now, and will make them available soon
for anyone who’d like to see a model. Obviously everyone’s
resolutions will be very different, but seeing my charts might help spur ideas.

SALIENCE is another key aspect to sticking
to a resolution. I found that the more quickly and readily a resolution pops
into my mind at an appropriate point, the easier it is to keep that resolution.
And the way to keep an idea uppermost in mind is through repetition.

I re-read my Twelve Commandments (see
left-hand column) every day. I have sticky notes around the house to remind me
of my resolutions. Scoring myself on my chart requires me to review every
resolution, every day.

As a result, I hear a little Jiminy-Cricket
voice in my head whispering “Let it go,” “Show up,”
“There is only love,” “Remember the evening tidy-up,”
"Sing in the morning," and all the rest as I go through my day. Of
course, I often ignore that little voice, but at least I hear it more clearly
than I did before.

Just last night, I discovered a new
mechanism to be reminded of my resolutions. It’s a fantastic website
called Hassle Me. This site allows you to
arrange to be hassled at certain times – so, for example, as a trial I
arranged to be hassled every two days with a message, “No fake
food.” It can remind you to go to the gym, to call your grandmother, to
pay bills, whatever you want, however often you want.

I think I’m going to send myself fifty
hassle-me’s. More salience!


I found an interesting site, Wise Bread.
It's about "living large on a small budget," and I like the
sensibility. One of my happiness themes is the relationship between money and
happiness, which I think is more complictated than people claim. This site is
about living frugally, but with a fun and adventurous spirit -- not cramped
penny-pinching. Plus I learned the history of the "baby carrot."