Seize the New Year! It's Urgent!

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Hurdling Through the New Year
Hurdling Through the New Year

What are your hopes, dreams and desires for 2018? 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 2018
The new year is an important time to consider last year and to move with purpose into the future. Start by reviewing 2017’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 2018?

Now, move mindfully into 2018 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 of making major changes in the world or in your own life 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 our "western style" 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 book, Diet Simple). Is there a special event coming soon? A wedding? Reunion? Summer at the beach? You get the idea. But also...

2) Ponder the negative consequences of not making a particular 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

If you want to be happy, outline the consequences of your actions and act on your long term goals when making a decision to do something or not. Ask yourself "Which decision will improve my life?" Also, ask yourself, "Which decision may feel good right now but is counterproductive and will prevent me from achieving my goal?" helps you grow and become a happier person. It increases your general happiness level because you are making decisions which contribute to your long-term well-being.

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF GIVING IN

Usually, when you 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 you originally planned on just buying coffee, your 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 your life. You may even become more depressed as you give-in to these unfulfilling momentary desires and continue into a downward spiral.

MAKING THE HARDER, BUT MORE SATISFYING CHOICE

If, instead, you say to yourself, "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, wear that special outfit, 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 a better life – 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

There are so many things distracting you. It is not always easy in our society to make healthy decisions. 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.