Just In Time For The New Year.
Here are 7 great resolutions that have nothing to do with weight loss, and everything to do with being happier!
Resolution 1. Take 10 minutes a day for radical self care.
As one friend puts it, “over-indulgence is self-care on hyperdrive”. The key to not over-indulging is finding a balance between ALL and NONE. When we tell ourselves that we don’t have time to do something for ourselves, we are perpetuating a myth. The truth is that when we practice just ten minutes a day of self-care, whether that’s reading a book, walking around the block, eating lunch away from our desks or simply enjoying laughing with some friends, we are lowering our stress levels and making ourselves more productive. Radical self-care is about understanding that when you take a break during the day you become more energised, with fresh ideas, a clearer perspective and a lower anxiety level. By taking ten minutes each day for yourself in a quiet and reflective activity, you are building a habit of self-care that will stand up for the long haul.
THE POWER OF CELEBRATING IS THAT YOU ARE ACKNOWLEDGING THE GOOD THINGS EACH AND EVERY DAY.
Resolution 2. Try a new activity once a month.
Trying something new has all sorts of benefits that might not be immediately apparent. Right up front is that you are stretching your own boundaries and learning new things. When we learn we feel a sense of accomplishment, no matter if it’s a new dance step, or a new fitness class, the lyrics to a new song or going to that Meetup on writing that sounded pretty cool. When we stretch ourselves our brains also shift gears, we gain new perspectives on every aspect of our lives, from relationships to work, bosses to kids and all of these can benefit from a fresh pair of eyes. In Positive Psychology there’s a practice of waking up each day and meeting the people in your life as if for the first time. Asking yourself, what is this person like today? What don’t I know about them? What might they see in me that is also new? By acknowledging and practicing something new, we can breathe a huge amount of energy onto our lives and our relationships. Begin simply by doing something new to you once a month. Afterwards take a few moments to reflect on what you connected with and why, and what you want to do next. Maybe you keep doing it for the rest of the month or the rest of the year, maybe move onto another new thing. Whatever the case, if you do this practice for 12 months, you’ll have created an enormous amount of growth in yourself at the end of the year and broadened your perspectives in immeasurable ways.
Trying something new has all sorts of great benefits.
Resolution 3. Become stronger- not just physically.
We often think about ways to become stronger as being physical, but what about our mental strength? Let’s not forget that mental strength is what gets us through that tough project at work,the boss who makes us nuts or the extended family visit during the holidays. One way to practice mental strength is to connect with your own core values. These are the top three ideals that make you who you are. They are the ideals you actually live by. Take a few minutes and write down the top ten values you hold near and dear to your heart. The list might include compassion, integrity, honesty, being direct, learning new things, etc… Now go back and circle your top three- the ones you really can’t give up no matter what. Take a look at how what you do in your life fits in with your top three core values, whether it’s work or family or recreation- I bet you see some connections there. In order to strengthen your ability to act in alignment with your core values, you need to know what they are, so identifying them is key. Once you have them down, use them as the filter to measure any actions you might take next. For example, if you are asked to host the office holiday party and you are an introvert who shys away from parties in general, how can you dig into your core values to connect with something that you can use to help you through the event. Maybe you tap into your love of building community or your generosity. By connecting directly to you core values before you move into action, you strengthen the connection you have to what is truly important to you and you take action that moves you forward into a future that you want to be living.
Resolution 4. Become more flexible.
Physical flexibility is an important component of a life well-lived. Being flexible allows you to reach for that can at the top of the grocery aisle or kitchen cupboard. It lets you swing a hammer more powerfully or stay in that 10K for longer even when you get cut off by the person next to you who trips. Mental flexibility offers similar benefits. Being mentally flexible also means we can meet changing events and situations and not get thrown. We can hold onto a desired outcomes and allow ourselves to see new ways to achieve them. Being mentally flexibly makes us easier to work with and more people want to collaborate with us when we remain flexible in our approach to problems and solutions. In addition to being physically and mentally flexible, there’s also emotional flexibility. Allowing ourselves to experience our own emotions and to be uncomfortable at times, is a way to build emotional flexibility. When you think about it, you know that feeling sad or angry is not going to kill you. Sure, it sucks, but that feeling is going to pass just the same way that the delight in eating an ice cream cone, or bench-pressing your max, is going to subside. Count to 20, exhale deeply and know that every emotion takes the same form, like a wave building, then cresting then rolling back out to sea- when you roll with it, breath through it, you are increasing your own emotional flexibility and tolerance.
Celebrate something that went well each day.
Resolution 5. Celebrate what went well.
It’s so easy to get caught up in where we think we failed, or where we didn’t do what we thought we “should”, but the simple truth is that whatever we focus on we create more of. So rather than focussing on what went wrong, take 5 minutes at the end of each day and focus on what went well. In Positive Psychology we call this the WWW+W practice (What Went Well and Why). It’s a simple practice that can up the ante on daily happiness, create a clearer vision of what you are really accomplishing and set you up for even more success. The practice sounds simple and the key is repetition, repetition, repetition! Every evening take 5 minutes and write out three things that went well for you that day and why that thing happened. They can be simple things, “It was a sunny day and I took time out to notice the warmth and glow of the sun”, or “I aced that presentation because I spent weeks preparing for it”, or “I managed to get in a 15 minute walk outside at lunch because I kept my promise not to eat at my desk”. It doesn’t matter how big or little the thing is, what does matter is that you acknowledge that it happened and why it happened. Sometimes the why might not be something you did, that’s okay! It doesn’t have to be. The power of celebrating is that you are acknowledging the good things each and every day. Building this habit leads to an increased sense of well-being and happiness and eventually can lead to a feeling if being unstoppable in your own life.
Resolution 6. Find a physical activity you love and do it regularly- every week.
I can’t begin to fully explain the multitude of benefits this one has for us all! No matter if your thing is a walk in the park, pole-dancing class, yoga or weight-training, triathlons or jumping rope, having a physical activity that you do on a regular basis promotes health and wellness on physical, emotional and mental levels all at the same time, and who doesn’t like that kind of multi-tasking? When you engage in a physical activity regularly you increase muscle-memory which means you get better and better at the activity. You also are learning something new each time you engage in doing it- you might notice your running times get faster, your weights get heavier or your walks get longer and more invigorating. Practicing a particular activity is what helps us to understand the ins and outs of it on higher and higher levels. We become masters at it over time and while we may never be the next Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, or Tom Brady, the more we dig into our activity, the more mastery we build. Increasing mastery brings about a sense of personal accomplishment and this ups our general happiness quotient in life. The happier we feel, the more we are willing to take risks, the more risks, the more we learn, the more learning the more we accomplish and the cycle becomes self-sustaining. Again, what you end up with is a feeling of unstoppable growth and well-being over the long term.
Do something that makes you smile or laugh each day!
Resolution 7. “Eat more chocolate”!
What I mean is, do something that makes you laugh or smile each and every day. The benefits to doing this are immeasurable but they include lower stress levels, clearer thinking, more friends, better relationships with everyone you work with, workdays that feel less arduous, increased performance at work, better sense of self, happier friends and family, more support when you are having a bad day, and the list goes on and on. So it might not actually be eating more chocolate, it might be dancing around your living room to a disco song, or laughing out loud with a friend. You might check out any number of hilarious YouTube videos or post something really silly on Facebook. Still stuck for ideas? Ask any kid under the age of ten what makes him laugh and he’ll come up with a bunch of stuff that will rock your practice. Laughing every day has been proven to strengthen your immune system, boost your mood, diminish physical and emotional pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works quicker or more reliably to bring your body and mind back into balance than a good laugh. So whether its a piece of chocolate, a two-minute comedy clip or just taking a few minutes to look up at the sky and laugh out loud, making this a daily habit has all sorts of great side-effects for your entire life.