Are resolutions good for you?

It’s that time of year when people start making New Year’s Resolutions. But according to psychologists, most of the time we just end up being unhappy at our failure to do them. We make promises that we don’t keep, which makes us feel bad, and so we do things to feel better. Like comfort eat. And drink too much. And all the other things we probably resolved not to do in the first place.

Here at Mindapples we like to take a more positive approach: we ask people what they’re doing already, and encourage everyone to do more of the things that work for them. We can all think of dozens of things we *should* be doing, but unless we’ve done it, how do we really know it’s right for us? Personally, I’m not interested in promises: I want to know what already works for you, so I can do it too.

So this year, I’m encouraging everyone to resolve to do more of the things you know work for you, and celebrate that we’re all doing better than we sometimes think. Naturally, I’d like one of your resolutions to be doing your five mindapples to look after your mind. But there are probably lots of other things you’d like to do more of in 2010, like playing with your kids, or doing WiiFit yoga, or having your friends round.

So, for 2010, I resolve to do the following things:

  • Play more music
  • Have more conversations with people about Mindapples and other projects that get me excited
  • Spend more time walking in the natural world, particularly climbing things and looking at nice views
  • Learn a bit more Spanish
  • See more of the people I love

And if I don’t do any of those, I resolve to be fine about it, because there was probably a good reason.

Happy New Year from all of us here at Mindapples

Winter apples: image by rabasz from flickr.com

Andy xx

New Year’s Temptations

Hello, it’s Andy here. A very happy New Year to you, from me, and as Tessy has said already, from the Mindapples team. I’ve been taking a break from computers, ideas and work since 19th December and now feel much better thankyouverymuch. Hope you had a good restful break too.

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about ‘resolutions’, but following Tessy’s earlier post, I have an alternative proposal for you: New Year’s Temptations. One of my intermittent Mindapples is ‘give into temptation once a day’. I guess it’s a variant on ‘treat yourself’. But in the astringant, pleasure-fearing Protestant Western tradition at least, ‘temptation’ is usually seen as a Bad Thing.

And that’s why I like it. Allow me to explain…

For me, Mindapples has never been about forcing myself to do things I don’t like because they’re Good For Me. It’s about finding the things I like doing anyway, and then identifying which are good for me and doing more of them, and less of the bad stuff. Eating fewer burgers, and hugging my friends more. I like chips, but they’re bad for me. But I also like cabbage, and that’s good for me. So I eat more cabbage. I don’t eat celery, because I hate it – even though it’s healthy. I think I can look after my body by eating what I like: all I need to do is like enough stuff.

My friend James once told me that when the Japanese say something is delicious, they mean it is nutritious and nourishing to the body. The idea of separating nutrition and taste is stupid. (I have no idea if this is true, but as the Sufis would say, in the spiritual world it happened.) Imagine how easy it would be to take care of ourselves if all we had to do was give in to temptation?

So that’s my suggestion for 2009. Do what you like, but select from a rich pool of options. Explore the world, think about things you’ve enjoyed before, maybe try a few new things. Find more and more things you enjoy, and you’ll find more and more things that are also good for you. And then, give in to temptation.

I’m going to try a variant on this for a while and see how it goes: do something pleasurable for each of my five senses each day. White chocolate-covered raspberries, jasmine flowers, hot baths, winter sunsets, early Billie Holiday. A focus for my temptations, a guilt-free way to indulge myself. I’m not being weak: I’m being nice to myself. Well done me. ;-)

Best of luck to all of you in 2009, and let us know what you want to do more of this year. Come on, you know you’re tempted…

Posted by Andy Gibson


Resolutions for your Mind

Mental Health charity, MIND, warned yesterday that New Year’s resolutions could be bad for your health – particularly when we are armed with self-improvement resolutions.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said focussing on problems or insecurities can lead to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and even mild depression.
“We chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and set unrealistic goals to change our behaviour, so it’s not surprising that when we fail to keep resolutions, we end up feeling worse than when we started,” he said.

“In 2009, instead of making a New Year’s resolution, think positively about the year to come and what you can achieve.”

While I admit to increasing my exercise in recent weeks to boost my wellbeing, I have given Paul Farmer’s timely and sensible message some serious thought since yesterday. So yesterday’s observations were:

1. I make really good cheese sauce. Resolved to make more cheese sauce, or even look at some new recipes. Sometime. A small thing I know, but trying to look for assets rather than deficits… which is one of my favourite topics today.

2. I have some really amazing friends. Some of whom have sent me the most uplifting and kind messages in recent weeks. So I have resolved to communicate more with the lovely people I already know and love… and…not to rely on Twitter too much to keep a sense of connection alive, or indeed to neglect the majority of friends who aren’t even on Twitter.

I may have been inspired by reading about the correspondence patterns of Darwin and Einstein? During their lifetimes, Darwin sent at least 7,591 letters and received 6,530; Einstein sent more than 14,500 and received more than 16,200. And also by the rather beautiful concept of writing letters to the future through Douceurs (which translates to ‘sweet words’ and ‘gentleness’) designed by Lauren Currie

So perhaps rather than not resolving anything at all, we should be making them more fun and personal and less medicinal! How very Mindapples…

Posted by Tessy Britton