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...
SEIZE THE MOMENT!
A Plan For 2013
The new year is an important time to consider the year that has past and to begin moving with purpose into the future. Start by reviewing 2012’s important people, events, places, and ideas. What made you happiest last year? What were your achievements? What were the bumps in the road? What would you like to do more of – or less of – in 2013?
Now, move mindfully across the threshold into 2013 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."
The simple pleasures in life always bring me the most joy. I especially love the holidays because it's a time of year I get to spend precious moments with my family and friends. One of my favorite traditions is an annual "girls get-together" with 3 of my favorite girlfriends. We feast on the most fabulous "girl" food, share stories about our lives, and exchange thoughtfully chosen gifts. I'm always asked to bring the "salad," which is really so much more. This "salad" is a feast for the senses: salty, sweet, tart, crunchy - every texture, flavor and color imaginable. Developed by Persian Chef - and Georgetowner - Najmieh Batmanglij, it is a holiday home-run.
Winter Salad of Orange and Pomegranate
By Najmieh Batmanglij in “Cooking With Les Dames d’Escoffier”
1 Cup (about 1 large pomegranate) pomegranate seeds
4 to 6 Large Naval Oranges, peeled and cut into section, membrane removed
¼ Cup Finely Chopped Candied Orange Peel (store-bought or home-made)
½ Cup freshly squeezed Orange Juice
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed Lime Juice
1 tsp Orange Blossom Water
8 ounces Sheep’s milk cheese, such as Pecorino Romano OR aged Goat Cheese, cut into shavings with a potato peeler (I use only 2 ounces)
1/3 Cup Chopped pistachios
Pistachio Oil or light-bodied Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
In a bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, orange segments, candied orange peel, orange juice, lime juice and orange blossom water. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. To serve, distribute the fruit mixture among 4 plates. Alongside the fruit, place a portion of cheese and top with the chopped pistachios and a light drizzle of oil. Serve immediately.
Georgetown Village, one of the growing aging-in-place communities in the nation, celebrated its one-year anniversary Thursday evening. The reception, attended by about 100 members and volunteers, started with a lavish buffet in St John’s Episcopal’s Blake Hall, its headquarters.
The event continued with an awards ceremony recognizing the contributions of its volunteers, and ended with a raffle featuring gifts from its many contributors, including Aveda, Keith Lipert Gallery, Anthony’s Tuxedo, Rodman’s Drug, and Appalachian Spring.
Georgetown Village, founded by Georgetowner Sharon Lockwood, a professor of economics and community activist, was incorporated in 2010, but officially opened its doors providing services for members on December 6, 2011, with Executive Director, Lynn Golub-Rofrano.
During the past year Georgetown Village fulfilled 345 service requests and 70 percent of its members joined in programs and activities, including happy hours, yoga, tai chi, book club, monthly museum trips, Potomac cruises, speakers bureau, with among other offerings, nutrition talks given by Yours Truly.
0ver 200 Georgetowners are now members. Services include transportation, household assistance and organizing, yard work, I.T. assistance, even grocery shopping. Georgetown Village’s mission is providing services and programs so that residents can live better and longer in their own homes. Servicing Georgetown, Burleith and nearby neighborhoods.