Every January 1st “more than fifty per cent of Americans made some sort of resolution. After six months, only forty per cent had stuck with it” (Konnikova). I am within that 50%, listing resolutions that range from eating better to exercising more. There is something about the crest of a new year that propels us to believe, despite all the contrary evidence, this time change will be easy. Good will does its best to buoy us but often it is the very device that undermines us.
“Optimism, then, isn’t always constructive. If we’re too positive, we condemn ourselves to fail. Many backsliders relapse because they have overestimated their own abilities, underestimated the time and effort involved in staying the course, or have an exaggerated view of the effect that the change would have on their lives” (Konnikova).
Each new year or new month or new week we strive to follow a new regime, one that could, we fancy, lead us to an improved self. But this week, on the crest of the Chinese New Year, I suggest a shift away from this type of thinking. Instead, I dare say Fuck Off to Resolutions and Bring It On to Inspirations.
It may seem I am splitting hairs as resolutions do connect to inspiration, but I would argue that it is the actual construction of the goal that is different. This is not about changing to a lofty image that you hold for yourself, but rather an uncovering of who you really are. This is not about becoming an air-brushed and digitally altered Cover Girl, or even a replica of a 25 year old triathlete, but finding activities that bring you joy. What are you passionate about? What is it you’d like to be doing right now? Any right now?
This January I considered passions that I am eager to act on rather than resolutions that translate to tedious chores. For me writing is an obvious joy, but there are other passions I am paying attention to, like practicing a gentle yoga that warms me, or slowing my pace occasionally to actually look up. (After all, there are gorgeous vistas all around us). After an afternoon yoga class I spy the magic and magenta in the sky and head home with beauty in my mind. Finding your own passions is easier when you let go of the shoulds and uncover what make you smile.
Recently I began a pool membership at our local Swimming Hole, and have discovered that regardless of the frigid temperatures outside, the pool is always a delicious 82 degrees! After 30 minutes of laps I enjoy the water-slide because, well we all need a bit more play in our day, right? Healthy for my body while enjoying moments of joy, now that doesn’t sound like a resolution at all, does it?
I hope before another week ends you find what makes you happy, and that is what you focus on as we slip further into 2014. This happiness is not only for a few fleeting minutes, but for your overall health. Deepak Chopra tells us, “If input is everything, then happiness and well-being are created by giving the brain positive input. Without realizing it, you are here to inspire your brain to be the best it can be. This is much more than positive thinking, which is often too superficial and masks underlying negativity. The input that inspires the brain includes a wide array of things. Everyone wants to experience positive feelings (love, hope, optimism, appreciation, approval) without knowing how to get them. For all the theories that proliferate about happiness, from the brain’s perspective, the formula is to maximize the positive messages being received by the cortex and minimize the negative ones” (How to Inspire your Brain).
Find your favorite whole foods, and make a meal of them. Discover your favorite physical activities, and make time for them. Focus on what you love. Start with that, and health and well-being will surely follow. Let’s make 2014, the Year of the Horse, one of an adventure to find your inspiration!