Video: Happiness-Boosting Resolutions for 2011.

The original book video for The Happiness Project book features many of my favorite resolutions. With the help of the fabulous Maria Giacchino, I’ve updated the video to highlight some of the resolutions that other people have made. Check it out!

I’m always fascinated to hear about other people’s resolutions and add them to my own list all the time. And even when a resolution isn’t right for me, it helps me think about what I might try.

Have you tried any of these resolutions? Or have you tried a different resolution that has been particularly helpful?

One thing that has struck me: often, resolutions that point in opposite direction are both helpful — even to the same person. The opposite of a great truth is also true.

Move. Still.
Say yes. Say no.
Start. Finish.
Take myself more seriously. Take myself less seriously.
Now. Wait.
Think bigger. Think smaller.

If you’d like to see the original video, here it is:

When I feel discouraged about resolution-keeping, which is fairly often, I think of Samuel Johnson’s diary entry from 1764:

“I have now spent fifty-five years in resolving; having, from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short. O GOD, grant me to resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions.”

Happy 2011! Good luck keeping your resolutions.

* Sign up here to join the 2011 Happiness Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year. Studies show that taking an action, like signing up for the challenge, will help you hold yourself accountable. I’ve been astonished by how many people have signed up in just the past two days.

  • flossattrocbrocandrecup

    Great! I’m signed up for the project, and don’t have any really defined resolutions yet, but the direction I’m really thinking in is about what Jane Austen called ‘self-awareness’. Funny how something 18th century can sound so relevant today! Reading Jane Austen’s books last year showed me how much I can delude myself about my real emotions and motives, and how much better it is when I recognise what I’m really feeling and how that affects other people too.

    • gretchenrubin

      Funny you mention Jane Austen. I just re-read Pride and Prejudice over the

  • Liping

    I love the idea of embracing opposites. The tricky thing is to pick the right end at the right time in the right place, and still feel free.

  • Alana in Canada

    Love it! After having read Pink, I’m quite perplexed about the whole Goals, thing. But, I’m making them–it’s an experiment.

  • The Red Angel

    Great list of resolutions! 🙂 I have quite a few goals for 2011, and I added “learn 5 new somethings” to my list. Thanks for the inspiration!


  • My resolution is one I started in November but want to be sure to continue in 2011. It is really simple. Get dressed down to my tennis shoes in the morning before I am really even awake. Doing this makes it easier to continue on to my next resolution, to get on the treadmill for just 15 minutes a day. This has been very doable, and I usually walk 30-35 minutes. Haven’t technically lost any weight yet, but I feel SO much better! And that was my real goal for health and energy. Weight loss will come eventually!

  • Bluejay

    Hi Gretchen! and HAPPY New Year!
    There is one main issue I always deal with connected with resolutions, goals, and my neverending quest and path towards living an aware balanced happy life…OVERWHELM!!
    I have a REALLY HARD TIME trying to manage it all, to find a balance, a rythm, an organized Way…it gets really tough to decide on what to focus on and how to manage everything, to remember, be aware, follow through “start and finish” while juggling all the rest…I always seem to get sidetracked…lost…on the wrong (?) path…
    One of the worst feelings I am constantly unhappy about is this being overwhelmed…and guilt…about not following through, about getting distracted…
    I see that you are so good at keeping it all together…Do you have any advice on how to not get overwhelmed by so many resolutions? It doesn’t seem possibile to just do one…at least to me…You seem to do them all together how do you tackle?

    • gretchenrubin

      This is a big issue! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try choosing one or two
      things that are very manageable. Sometimes, getting a handle on some messy
      area in your house helps clear your mind to a surprising degree. Getting
      more sleep makes tasks seem easier. Little, manageable steps. It’s supposed
      to make you HAPPIER! good luck!

      • Bluejay

        Thanks Gretchen…
        This is the first time I actually write in a blog..
        I really appreciate the way you always put yourself out there, in such a clear, direct and honest way…There is a quality you have of seeing yourself and relating your experiences of yourself in a very unbiaised, truthful way, so close to the felt experience..
        I am slowly reading through your archives on the blog, and I listened to your book as an audiobook and it’s very stimulating, so rich of tools, insights.
        The more I try and delve into my own lifelong happiness quest…and it’s been a while, which brought me to your blog…the more there are confusing times…at times everything seems to get clearer, what being me means and happiness for me is…other times it isn’t at all..what really makes ME happy is not always obvious…there is a sort of fog…
        This “overwhelm issue” is as you say a big one…how do you put together the fact that this achievement drive is something that in some way has to do with happiness, and on the other side at the same time seems to be an obstacle? that the fact of having many interests that all seem to want my attention, time, energy, is enrichening and another way to happiness but then becomes yet another obstacle?…so many times I just think I am trying too hard to be happy..but I do believe as you have written somewhere that it just doesn’t happen naturally, at least not in my experience..even “just” letting go and relaxing, “just” being is an act of mindfulness, awareness, a choice of presence…

  • New Mom

    I am in the middle of your book and must say that it has given me a new lease on life! I received it as a Christmas gift and was skeptical about its value, but it is written so honestly and unpretentiously and contains such practical advice, that I am hooked!

    • gretchenrubin

      That is so nice to hear! I’m very happy to hear that it resonates with you.

  • Goal-making is so important if you want to improve your life. I read an interesting study recently, however, that said we should keep our goals to ourselves and not share them with others. The myth is that by sharing them with others they will hold us more accountable (although a lot of people aren’t even reliable for that), but the study showed that when we speak our goals we act “as if” we already achieved them (dopamine rush and all), and then we are LESS willing to actually put in the WORK to achieve them.

    Interesting stuff. If you want to know more about it check out my latest blog post called “Keep Your Goals To Yourself.” It includes a short TED lecture by Derek Sivers on the subject.

    Hope everyone has a fruitful new year!

    • I LOVED that clip – so true, isn’t it?

    • gretchenrubin

      That research is very interesting. The key to resolution-keeping, I think,
      is accountability, so that you don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ve
      already achieved something. That’s why I love my Resolutions Chart, and why
      groups like AA, Weight Watchers, and happiness-project groups are so

  • I’m listening to THP again as I begin this year and I am struck once again what a great inspiration Gretchen has been in helping me organize, purge, set appropriate goals and get motivated! Thanks Gretchen!!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much for your kind words! Have a very HAPPY 2011!

  • I love the new year and taking the time to plan the direction for the year. My best friend from college and I have made it an annual pilgrimage over the years and are even starting to involve our children in the process.

    We follow the same process year to year and then review the results with each other via planned progress calls during the year. It’s great to have an accountability buddy.

    I am feeling good about 2011.

    Kim Bauer

    Happy New year!

  • Dangerousbobrubin

    Aren’t you related to the Robert Rubin in this article?

    Robert Rubin the Most Dangerous Man on earth; the most relentlessly effective economy killer; the most Genocidal Banker by far…

    Whew, no wonder you need a happiness project! Sounds like he could too!

    • Sarah125

      Damn, you are right. I just googled Gretchen and see that that Robert Rubin is her father-in-law. I betcha she screens your comment. If so, I won’t bother coming to her site again. Let’s see if she really practices what she preaches and deals with your comment using her happiness techniques! LOL!

      • Jamesdude

        P.S. The article you quoted even mentions a Jamie Rubin – his son. Isn’t Gretchen’s husband name Jamie?

        Whoa, what a scary family!

    • Ignored

      Looks like you have been ignored by Gretchen Rubin.
      Way to go Gretchen!

  • Margaret Hope

    Surely, G. K. Chesterton did not say “A thing that’s worth doing is worth doing badly.” It makes no sense.

    All my 78 years I’ve heard, “. . . it’s worth doing well.” Why do it at all if its not well done?

    Dear Gretchen, I think you bought into a joke by some cynical person. So unlike you to error in that way. I think you’re the smartest woman around.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, Chesterton’s quotation is surprising. I always thought of “doing well”
      too. But as Niels Bohr observed, “The opposite of a great truth is also
      true.” As I thought about what Chesterton wrote, I realized that both
      statements are true for me. As someone who can be too concerned with
      success, gold stars, and mastery, it’s helpful for me to remember that some
      things are so worth doing that doing them badly is better than not doing
      them at all.

      • Miss Heidi

        My favorite twist on that quote comes from Mae West – “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”

  • LR

    The idea of a theme for the new year appeals to me. After much thought I realized that I needed two words: Expand and Focus. Yes, they seem to contradict. One of my goals is to broaden my thinking and experiences, and at the same time pursue at least one thing in depth. This mirrors what Shirley Tilghman at Princeton University encourages her students, to strive for breadth and depth. Good advice.

  • Jennifer B

    I’ve always believed in New Year’s resolutions, but I have never wanted to write them down for fear of not succeeding. I heard an idea about resolutions on the CBS Sunday Morning. Make resolutions to do things that you are excited about doing instead of what you think sounds good or what you think that you ought to do. What I want most for 2011 is to be proud of accomplishing what I set out to do. I love to cook and I need to be extra thrifty while looking for a job. So one resolution is to cook 100 recipes and keep a record of each. Soups and salads are good budget keepers, so soups and salads it is. And I guess this could also qualify under the rule to be true to yourself. I want to update my happiness project a little, so the old goals need to be re-inked.

  • Dallas4runner

    Thanks Gretchen for all your words of wisdom.
    Happy New Year and I will continue to read your blog in this next year.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed all your comments.
    Keep up the great work.
    DW from CA