New Year, New Life! Seize the Moment!
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."