For Real Results, Affirm – Don’t Resolve

New Year 2015

The first week of January, gyms across the country are packed with well-intentioned people who resolved on December 31 at midnight to lose weight, eat right and get healthy in 2015.

By Valentine’s Day, most of them will be back home in front of the TV with snacks and fast food wrappers on the end table next to the couch.  What happened?  it’s actually quite predictable, say scientists.

When we make those annual New Year’s Resolutions, we’re really focusing on all the things we’ve messed up in the past.  We’re embarrassed about our bodies.  We’re ashamed that we skip healthy meals for nutritionally bankrupt and guilt-inducing processed drive-through fare.  We anguish over the expensive and neglected gym membership we bought last year.  Every resolution we make reinforces each weakness we hate about ourselves.  Even the word “resolve” has the tentative energy of, “Well, I’ll try it.”

If we truly desire to shift into healthier lifestyle habits, suggest neuroscientists, instead of trash-talking ourselves, switch those brain circuits so we’re focusing on the best parts of who we are.  Self-affirming our goodness and strengths can provide lasting motivation for making those positive changes we desire.

It was two studies in Great Britain that brought the effectiveness of “affirming” rather than “resolving” to light.  Smokers were the focus of the first study. 

After finding a number of people who desired to stop lighting up, researchers divided them into two groups. 

The first was asked a series of random questions, while the second group was asked about things that let them recall times they’d been compassionate, or made effective choices.  They were then asked to further elaborate on their positive actions, which made them feel even better about their past victories.  Both groups were then given information about how to stop smoking.

The group which received the self-affirming questions was able to take that renewed sense of self-esteem and self-respect, and effectively nip their smoking habit in the butt.  Unfortunately, the smokers who did not experience the ego and confidence boosting questions failed to make progress. 

A second study, dealing with poor eating habits, was conducted the same way, and provided the same results.  Participants who shared self-affirming behaviors from their past were much more able to use that positive reinforcement to motivate them to make the healthy lifestyle changes they desired.

“Affirmations” are more effective than “resolutions” because those bad habits we want to exorcise hide in the basal ganglia, an unconscious part of the brain.  Only when the prefrontal cortex creates new habits can those old neural pathways be changed.  Self-affirmation, which makes the brain spurt out ‘happy chemicals’ like serotonin, can make that change happen.

Experience the positive, powerful and lasting changes that happen when you embark on a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in San Diego or Austin, Texas.  Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.