The Power of Inspiration

ChineseNewYear-DecorationEvery January 1st “more than fifty per cent of Americans made some sort of resolution. After six months, only forty per cent had stuck with it” (Konnikova). I am within that 50%, listing resolutions that range from eating better to exercising more. There is something about the crest of a new year that propels us to believe, despite all the contrary evidence, this time change will be easy. Good will does its best to buoy us but often it is the very device that undermines us.

“Optimism, then, isn’t always constructive. If we’re too positive, we condemn ourselves to fail. Many backsliders relapse because they have overestimated their own abilities, underestimated the time and effort involved in staying the course, or have an exaggerated view of the effect that the change would have on their lives” (Konnikova).

Each new year or new month or new week we strive to follow a new regime, one that could, we fancy, lead us to an improved self. But this week, on the crest of the Chinese New Year, I suggest a shift away from this type of thinking. Instead, I dare say Fuck Off to Resolutions and Bring It On to Inspirations.

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Give Thanks


Making my gratitude list is simple this Thanksgiving Day. Simple, but important. For years we have heard how gratitude improves our health, relationships, even our careers; apparently there is little that can’t be made better with intentional thanks. Oprah tells us: “Being grateful is by far the single most powerful thing you can do to change your life.” Not surprising, Huffington Post claims that teaching our children gratitude in school will help them become happier too. A new study proposes starting with elementary students by using a pioneering curriculum:

First, children learned about the three types of appraisals that make us feel grateful:

  • That someone has intentionally done something to benefit us
  • That providing this benefit was costly to them
  • That the benefit is valuable to us

After the five-week course “children showed steady increases in grateful thinking, gratitude, and positive emotionsThe researchers found that those who were more likely to feel grateful to others also scored higher on academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement.” Well, what’s good for kids is good for the rest of us, right? Perhaps we can all take a moment to acknowledge those who give generously to us. Today, I am moved to do just that.

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