Whether it’s the bittersweet joy of watching another year pass into history or a whole lot of champagne, there’s something about a fresh new year that inspires us to turn over new leaf. And even though some of those resolutions will crumble by March, we’re still determined to start the new year on the right foot.
Go ahead and get that new gym membership, or start your journey to quit smoking – I’m totally behind you. However, you may also want to throw in a few more of the resolutions below. So in 2016, resolve to:
Be kinder to yourself. Rather than punishing yourself for your faults or for what you have not been able to achieve, relish in the fact that a) you’re human, so you’re allowed to make mistakes, and b) you get another year to try again. Furthermore, make a promise to be less self-critical. If it’s not OK for a friend, family member, colleague or stranger to insult you, how is it OK for you to insult yourself?
Treat your body with more respect. I am not one to turn down fries or steak subs, and there’s nothing wrong with having them on occasion. Your body needs to work with what you put in it; if you fill your body with unhealthy food, your body will respond with unhealthy results (like IBS, Diabetes, cardiovascular problems, etc.). I am not saying that you need to forgo that cheesecake or that burger (God knows I wouldn’t), but do your best to fill your body with good food on more occasions than not. And with that in mind…
Feed your mind with healthy thoughts. Having studied and researched human behavior for over a decade, seeing the connection between what a person thinks about themselves and what they have manifested in their life has become second nature for me (a skill that, for some odd reason, I can’t apply to my own life). People with low self-esteem, for example, are more likely to have relationship problems and to struggle to accomplish their goals. People who are pessimistic tend to be constantly disappointed in themselves and in others. Depressed people think little of themselves, and see the world as a dark, cruel place. Those with an external locus of control feel helpless and powerless, a hapless puppet in life’s cruel play.
Stop feeding yourself unhealthy thoughts, like “I’m not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, successful enough” or whatever your personal mantra may be. For every negative though you think, replace it with something positive. I’m not saying that you should through caution to the wind, stop planning ahead, and ignore your gut feelings; thinking positive means believing in yourself, in hope, and in possibility. And trust me, when you first start doing this, it won’t feel genuine. That negative doubting part of yourself will continue to fight you at every step, but you just have to stick to it. You can’t expect to change years of negative, pessimistic thinking in one day.
Surround yourself with people who socially, spiritually, and psychologically enhance your life. Good friends can be really hard to come by, but when you’re able to connect with a few kindred spirits, it can change your life dramatically. It can be very uplifting, for example, to be around people who have gone through or are going through the same difficulties you are. If you don’t have opportunities to make friends in your hometown, join an online group that shares your interests. These days, there are Facebook groups for almost everything, from celebrity fan forums to foodies to alien enthusiasts.
Listen to your gut instinct more. I’m always fascinated and a little amused by our obsession with the need to analyze, experiment on, and prove every little phenomenon. We pride ourselves on coming up with ideas that are rational and logical and proven through the scientific method. Don’t get me wrong: As a researcher, I abide by the scientific method on regular basis. I rely on peer-reviewed research studies and hard data, and I will refuse to accept any theory unless I can prove it or disprove it with my data. In my humble opinion, however, we rely a little too much on logic, and not enough on our inner mechanisms: Our intuition or gut instinct. More often than not, we dismiss or override them because they are not logical. When it comes to making decisions, for example, there is only so much research and analysis you can do.
So if a choice you’re about to make seems like a good idea on paper but something just doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore that warning. Milk it for information. Your gut will not steer you wrong. Logic must be used in tandem with intuition, like a superhero and his or her sidekick.
Spend more time appreciating and being grateful for the little things. Unfortunately, we only appreciate all those things we take for granted when we lose them or when something goes terribly wrong. You likely don’t make much note of what your senses pick up on every day, but if you suddenly start having problems with your sight, or something malfunctions in your body, suddenly, what you take for granted immediately becomes the only thing you focus on. Appreciate everything you have, no matter how minor; your sight and hearing, your organs and limbs, your family and friends, your job and your bank account (no matter how much is in it), your pet, your home, your car, your food…the list goes on and on.
My personal commitment this year is to worry less, think a lot a loss, and enjoy every aspect of my life from the mundane to the magnificent. I’m going all Zen baby!
Happy New Year!