As this year draws to a close, and 2014 approaches, many Americans will engage in the yearly custom of making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are many times centered on a behavior or habit that we see as negative. People vow to stop smoking, to lose weight or to not use cell phones while driving, now a new state law.
A common view of resolutions is that more than likely a person is not going to stick with their conviction for long, thus the old saying of “may all your troubles last as long as your New Years resolutions.” But maybe, just maybe, we plan to fail, have little faith in our ability to persevere, and being American; the idea of “stopping” something goes against our grain of personal freedom.
When one looks at the definition of resolution it begins with a negative, then moves toward a different point of view, and ends on a promising note. It begins as an attempt to resolve a problem or dispute then moves us towards making a firm decision to do something. And finally, it opens us to the determination to be firm of mind and with purpose.
The concept of the power of positive thinking is not new-age. It is a concept that has been with us for over 2,000 years having been practiced by the ancient Greek, Chinese, and Native American philosophers. With this in mind, perhaps resolutions made from a positive aspect or approach might not only be more beneficial, but easier to maintain and grow from. Concentrating on what we are going to “do” instead of what we are going to “stop” might put us in better standing to succeed.
Two of the most common resolutions are to stop smoking or to lose weight. Let’s take a look at smoking first. Nicotine is the most addictive drug available in the United States. Instead of simply saying that you are going to stop smoking, why not be honest with yourself and say you are going to “try” and stop smoking. Think about going to the doctor for advice and possible medical intervention, talk with a health educator at your Public Health department, or perhaps tell yourself that you will cut down. If you smoke a pack and a half a day, set a goal of smoking only a pack. Any amount that you cut back on is a good step. Find a positive and realistic goal that you can work with and attempt that.
People are almost always ready to try and shed a few pounds after the holidays. Others may need to lose an excessive amount due to health problems that have developed as a result of their weight. Instead of saying you are going to stop eating meat or will only drink chicken broth, a positive approach would be to contact your local Weight Watchers group or join online. I lost 20 pounds once in a month and a half and ate healthier than I ever had in my life.
Instead of concentrating on what seems like a negative, less food; concentrate on the positive, increasing your activity level. Tell yourself that you will begin fitness walking 10 minutes a day. Do that for a week and then increase it to 20 minutes every other day. By the time you increase your activity to thirty minutes, three times a week; you are achieving basic physical fitness. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from entrances to work or stores, go outside and pick up sticks in your yard. In general, get moving.
Exercise lessens a person’s depression or anxiety. Currently 42% of Americans take drugs to address these issues, but drugs only dull feelings. They don’t actually “lift” one’s emotions, exercise does. Walk outside with a buddy or work out at a local gym with likeminded people. You’ll sleep better too!
To take care of ourselves emotionally we can vow to be mindful of the people we spend time with. Walt Whitman felt strongly that it is alright to “re-examine all that you have been told and dismiss that which insults your soul.” You weren’t put on this Earth to be someone’s door mat. Surround yourself with positive people and you yourself will feel more positive.
I love the advice from Mark Twain that “the best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” Doing random acts of kindness brings about a win-win result. Cook a meal for a neighbor who has fallen and broken their wrist or shovel the sidewalk of an elderly neighbor. You’ve done something to show someone you care and will find yourself smiling because of it.
Lou Holtz urged us to see that “life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” Maybe as we begin to look toward the New Year and making resolutions we can concentrate more on positive approaches to enhance our lives.
As someone who enjoys writing, I’ll leave you with the words of Joey Adams one New Year’s Eve who said “tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!”