Video: Are You a “Yes” Resolver or a “No” Resolver?

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! This month’s theme is Resolutions. Last week’s resolution was to Choose one word to set the tone for the year. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to ask yourself: Are you a “yes” resolver or a “no” resolver?

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
5 questions to help you make effective New Year’s resolutions.
Quiz: Are you a “moderator” or an “abstainer”?

I predict that some people will be dismayed by my resolution to give up sweets for the month of December. Truly, for me, I’m happier keeping that resolution than battling against my sweet tooth. I’m an abstainer and a “no” resolver! The pleasure of a gingerbread cookie just isn’t worth the struggle for moderation.

How about you? Do you identify as “yes” resolver or a “no” resolver? Does that influence how you frame your resolutions? I’ve become increasingly convinced about the importance of vocabulary choices for happiness projects.

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* I was thrilled to see The Happiness Project included in a terrific list of 7 must-read books on the art & science of happiness. I’ve read every book on the list. I’m a big fan of Brain Pickings — “curating eclectic interestingness from culture’s collective brain” — which made it particularly fun.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.

  • The Red Angel

    This is a great post! You make a really good point here, about yes and no resolutions..for instance, instead of wanting to “lose weight” (a negative-sounding, or no, resolution), one might change that to “eat healthier” (a yes-resolution). With that, I can definitely say that I am a yes resolver. 🙂


  • jenny_o

    I’m a yes resolver. I feel too deprived if I resolve “no” anything. And when I feel deprived, all I can do is think about what I can’t have. It drives me to do just what I don’t want to do!

    On the other hand, when I resolve in a positive direction – “more” of something beneficial – I seem to see the good result beckoning to me from up ahead, and it just seems easier to make the choices to get there.

  • Scrappnsue

    I will be a “No” Resolver. To stop a bad habit , I will tell myself to just “Stop it” and “No” I can no longer do it !

  • How lovely it would have been to see this video 25 years ago. 🙂 I spent way too many years telling myself “NO” to this and to that, and though I’d listen for awhile, I usually eventually went out and did the exact opposite (I have a very active, rebellious inner kid). In recent years, I’ve come to understand that I do much better with yeses, so I move toward what I want and not away from what I don’t want. This is a powerful self knowing to have.

  • Nice blog! I keep running into this blog, because everyone seems to mention it, but I never really read a lot here. I thought I’d start doing that. So far I like what I see. Now I’m going to check out the 2011 Happiness Challenge. Keep up the good work!

  • flossattrocbrocandrecup

    I don’t like the absolute ‘no’ resolutions, and sometimes moderation is all I need – I don’t feel tempted to have more than one glass of wine with a meal, because I only ever have one glass on week days (we live in France, it’s the custom…) So for me, statments phrased like this: ‘I only ever have one glass…’ or ‘I never eat chocolate when I’m on my own’, define my resolutions without being exact ‘no’s.

  • I am definitely a yes resolver. Conscious eating is part of my January goals. When I set this goal I was thinking about my need to cut back my portions and consume around 1500 calories a day. I haven’t accomplished this yet. But, Monday I resolved to eat 8 fruits and vegetables (any 8) a day. This I am doing.

  • Kathy

    I probably am one of the original Cookie Monsters. I have no will power when it comes to cookies. So, I have made countless resolutions about not eating cookies, eating only 2 cookies, eating cookies only every other day, etc., etc. You get the idea. Then, last summer, after a summer’s long cookie binge, I decided to sever my relationship with cookies. That’s the way I put it. And I framed it in my mind with a vocabulary that sounded like I thought a divorce would sound – painful, high potential for relapse, but sealed with something like a court order. It worked! I didn’t eat cookies for a very long time. When I wanted one, I simply said to myself, “I’ve severed that relationship.”

  • Traci

    Gretchen, thank you for yet another insightful post on motivation. As a long-time reader of the Happiness Project, I have learned more about my “true nature” from your site and book than any other source. I love how you break these concepts down so it’s very easy for readers to identify ourselves as one or the other (yes or no resolver, moderator or abstainer, satisficer or maximizer). You make it clear that there is no right or wrong way to be motivated, and that it’s discovering one’s motivation style that is important. Thank you for this framework – I can’t tell you how much it’s changed my life at work and home.

  • LivewithFlair

    I’m more of a yes. Also, I have a new theory of happiness! I think it’s about connecting. My husband and I were talking about “how we know we are happy.” We decided we are most happy when we are connected to ourselves, others, and God. Disconnection makes us unhappy. Simple, I know, but it was a fun discussion!

  • Sunny1116

    A different spin on this, which usually works for me, is a REPLACEMENT resolution. I resolve to replace something negative that I want to stop or minimize (like watching TV) with something positive i want to start or increase (like taking the dog for a walk) I’ve found that this idea really helps me.

  • LizYoung

    I just noticed your “Foreign Cover Gallery” and took a peek. It made me very happy! I started smiling, seeing all of those covers — what a happy variety — and laughed out loud when I saw the bear on the very last one. What joy!

  • pk


    I am subscribed to Moment of Happiness email that is sent everyday. And today’s email has a link to the movie “The Years Are Short” (also listed under One Minute Video on the blog here on the right hand side.

    I drop off my son to his high school everyday and the video has changed my perspective on how would look at our ride together from tomorrow.

    Also would like to say the video is done very nicely. Would you mind telling me how the video was done (who is the photographer, software used, etc.) I am tecy guy and do my videos of photographs I take of our family events.

    Thank you,

  • KCCC

    I’m both.

    My “diet” (in quotes, because I don’t think of it that way) is the No-S plan (see At the high-level, it’s some pretty firm “no’s”…but not all the time. At the daily level, I operate on “yeses” – drink enough water, eat three satisfying meals, etc.

    Extreme moderation in action.

  • Lori

    I am a yes resolver. I had a big ugly project at work dealing with old vendor issues. I had been calling it Payables Purgatory for the longest time. Once I reframed and renamed it as Payables Paradise I found myself breezing right thru the stack!

  • Wow. I’ve never thought of this, but I am such a “no resolver.” I can stop doing just about anything. Let’s see if I can use this to readjust my thinking about getting up earlier…

  • ahmet tayfur

    This week’s resolution is to ask yourself: Are you a “yes” resolver or a “no” resolver?  pembe maske

  • lannabanana

    Counterintuitively, I’m a Rebel who prefers to no-resolve. All resolutions annoy me, but I get less bothered by hearing, “Don’t, stop, never” than I do by hearing, “Must, should, always.” The second category not only deprives me of pleasure; it deprives me of energy and time, too. I’d rather go without something for free than pay for something I don’t want.

    • lannabanana

      Actually, scratch that. When making internal rules, I prefer (even though I dislike) to no-resolve; BUT I have an easier time meeting the expectations of others when they’re framed as yes-resolves. I always did best in school and at work when we did certain routine assignments every day and there was never any question or nagging about it. (I’m also an Abstainer, BTW.) But I deeply resented being told, “No, you can’t do this project your way; you have to stick to the rules.” And I have a really hard time respecting other people’s resolutions for themselves, both yes and no. Hearing someone say, “I always X” or “I never Y” instantly makes them lose credibility with me–I tend to assume they’re either lying, boasting, and/or judging whoever doesn’t do things the same way they do. And I’m not always wrong. (Not to implicate anyone on this blog, FYI.)

      One way to form a habit if you hate making resolutions is to find a way to see them as challenges. It doesn’t always work to simply *call* them challenges, since you know very well you’re just euphemising “resolution” for yourself. But it helps if the thing is something nobody else believes you can (or should) do. Ever since someone told me I could get attacked and mugged on this greenway near our house, I’ve been a lot more consistent in going for walks there. This may not be the best example of a healthy resolution, but hey, it works. In fact, I’m probably going to go there now as soon as I finish writing this post…unless I change my mind by virtue of having mentioned it here. Ah, Rebel Mind, I love you so.