Sieze the New Year!
What are your hopes, dreams and desires for 2013? The new year is a valuable opportunity to improve the quality of your life and happiness. Here’s how to make the best of it…
Now, move mindfully across the threshold into 2012 filled with ideas, possibilities and plans! Analyze people who will continue to be important, ideas to explore, places to spend time, important events and things to carry over from last year to this year.
CREATING A “SENSE OF URGENCY”
An important aspect to making major changes in the world or in your own personal habits is to feel a sense of urgency about your goal. A sense of urgency, according to The Dalai Lama in “The Art of Happiness” – and scholars in this important field of psychological research, can be achieved two ways:
1) Remind yourself of your positive vision for success. For example, visualize yourself at your goal weight, healthy, feeling energetic and confident (see “Dream” in my best-selling book, Diet Simple), and
2) Ponder the negative consequences of not making a particular behavior change (a little fear can be a good thing – but just a little). For instance, in the morning as you’re considering two options: getting out of bed to exercise or sleeping just a little longer. Ask yourself: “Do I want to feel good today? Or do I want to feel crummy today?” Another example, as you’re driving home from work and deciding to grab some carry-out or to go home to eat the healthy meal you’ve already planned. Ask yourself: “Do I want to achieve my weight loss goal (insert positive vision here) or will I accept being the same weight and having the same health problems for another year?” “Do I want to stop taking these darn medications or will I be taking them forever – and even increasing the dosage? What will my doctor say?” “What kind of example am I setting for my children, my spouse? Is this a behavior I can be proud of?” etc. You get the idea…
ACHIEVING INCREASED HAPPINESS
Outlining the consequenses of your actions and acting on your long term goals, as opposed to momentary desires, helps you grow as a person and become a happier person, according to scientific research. It increases your general happiness level because you are making decisions which contribute to your long-term goals.
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF GIVING IN
Usually, when we do something that feels good momentarily, such as giving in and staying in bed for 30 more minutes of sleep in the morning instead of exercising, or grabbing a coffee cake at the coffee shop when we originally just planned on buying coffee, our happiness level may increase (“oooh, this feels yummy!”) – but it’s only a temporary blip of happiness. It goes back to the same level it did before – once the temporary experience wears off – and nothing changes for the better in our lives. We may even become more depressed as we continue to “give-in” to these unfulfilling momentary desires and continue into a downward spiral.
MAKING THE HARDER, BUT MORE SATISFYING CHOICE
If, instead, we say to ourselves, “I’m getting out of bed NOW! I’ll feel terrible if I don’t, and I’ll never achieve my goals,” or “Will stopping to get carry-out change my life for the better? I’d be better off going home and eating something healthy as I want to lose weight, lower my cholesterol, etc,” or “I really don’t need that coffee cake, and I’ll feel terrible after eating it, and will it make me happier at the end of the day?” “Will this increase my happiness for the short term? Or for the long term?” Another more extreme example might be a drug addict relapsing. It feels great momentarily, but the feeling doesn’t last.
When you make a more thoughtful decision, which contributes to your longterm health – physical or psychological – you are more likely to achieve your life’s hopes, dreams and goals, you can actually increase your happiness level, feel happier more often and grow as a person.
WHY IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY
It is not always easy in our society to make the healthy decision. It’s easier – and the norm, in fact – to be overweight and unhealthy. But, I’m convinced it is possible to be healthy in an unhealthy world with planning, practice, determination, and support (I’m here any time you need me!) – Besides, what’s the alternative?
It takes effort to train your mind to work this way, but this is how we become better people and we advance as a society.
THE RESOLUTION SOLUTION:
HOW TO MAKE YOUR RESOLUTIONS SUCCESSFUL
“Forty to 50 percent of American adults will make New Year’s resolutions for self improvement. Scientific research indicates you are ten times more likely to change by making a New Year’s resolution compared to non-resolvers with the identical goals and comparable motivation to change,” says John C. Norcross, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of Scranton and coauthor of “Changing for Good.”
Dr. Norcross recommends the following strategies, based on studies tracking successful New Year’s resolvers, and their differences with unsuccessful resolvers:
* Make realistic, attainable goals (See “Tiny Changes, Lasting Results” in Diet Simple’s Introduction),
*Develop a specific action plan (Fill out “Your Personal Goal Worksheet” in Diet Simple),
* Establish genuine confidence that you can keep the resolution despite the occasional slip. Confidence is a potent predictor of who succeeds in the new year! (creating your “sense of urgency” will be useful here – see above)
* Publicly declare your resolution. Public commitments are generally more successful than private decisions,
* Track your progress by recording or charting. Studies show self-monitoring one of the most important behaviors correlated with successful change (see “Write it to Lose It” in Diet Simple),
* Reward your successes (see “Get Sexy Lingerie” or “Kiss Your Spouse” in Diet Simple),
* Arrange your environment to help, rather than hinder, you. Limit exposure to high-risk situations and create reminders for your resolutions (see all of Diet Simple!),
* Expect occasional slips in your resolutions (see “Lighten Up!” in Diet Simple). Studies of successful weight loss maintainers show they experience just as many stressors and slips as weight relapsers; no one’s perfect after all (sorry to disillusion you)! The maintainers pick them self up, dust themselves off, and start all over again!
* Cultivate social support (see all of Diet Simple!). Successful weight loss maintainers are more likely to cultivate support from friends, loved ones, or professionals. It does take a village!
The Battle of the Bulge is Won at the Margins. Sweeping Dietary Overhauls are Impractical and Don’t Work Over Time!
Shrewd, Small, Concrete Changes Which Can be Easily Incorporated into Your Daily Routine Lead to Success!
Music and poetry move me deeply, and in ways I don’t always understand. All we know is after hearing something, we feel so much better. I’ve made some selections that have made a difference for me and hope you enjoy them too.
For more fabulous tips and simple, effective ways to lose weight,
buy her book, Diet Simple!