Why can’t I seem to follow through? As we begin a new year, I set out on a quest to learn more. And it seems there IS a reason why I seem to struggle.
And research shows it’s all in my head …. Literally.
Our brains aren’t intended to function with all the stress our culture throws at us. Stress…whether from a bear chasing us or 50 emails to answer, triggers the same response, the flight or flight response. When this happens, a part of our brain lights up that shuts down all executive functions – reasoning, creativity, focus – all the things I need to follow through!
So what do we do! Change our brain chemistry and lessen the effects of the fight or flight response.
There are some practical things we can do:
- Practice mindfulness. That’s just a fancy way of sting paying attention on purpose to what you are doing at this moment.
- Meditate. That’s just taking a few minutes everyday to unplug, take deep breaths, and reboot.
- Practice gratitude. Say it, write it, express it.
Changing our brain chemistry can make a big difference. The impact it makes is worth the effort so these are things I am going to focus on!
I don’t think I have ever made a New Year’s resolution that I actually stuck with. For me, resolutions have always led to feelings of guilt and shame. Recently, I looked at some current research that says 25% of us break our resolutions in the first WEEK and 75% have given up within 3 months! It seems that resolutions don’t really work for most of us!
Below are some reasons I think we can’t seem to be successful and some suggestions for making better resolutions!
- We don’t set reasonable goals. Do we really think we are going to go to the gym at 5am 6 days a week when we haven’t gotten up that early or gone to the gym since last January?!?! Let’s start with reasonable goals we can stick to most of the time! For me, I am committed to consistently drinking more water, and STOP putting food in my mouth when I am full! (Am I going to lose a bunch of weight doing this or become the next marathon winner? Probably not, but it is something I can reasonably do and I know I will feel good about it!)
- When we trip or stumble we think of it as completely “blowing it” and quit or worse, further sabotage ourselves! Have you ever eaten a cookie, felt badly about it and then proceed to eat the whole bag? Instead, let’s give ourselves some leeway. We ALL have bad days, make mistakes, or stumble. Let’s instead use “Persistence, not Perfection” as our new motto! Let’s count our good moments and any progress that we do make!
- Willpower won’t cut it! We can only “push through” for so long and then our will to push on fades! We won’t need willpower if our goals are reasonable, if we provide ourselves with grace when we stumble and count our successes!
So join me on our Facebook page as we re-think our resolutions! Decide what matters to you and how you plan to reasonably see it through! I hope you will share it with us! Remember, no resolution is too small!
Choose happiness … it is something I hear a lot. And I really wish it were that easy – just make a choice to be happy and you will be. Believe me I have tried! And it didn’t work.
Although not as simple as wishing it to be true, I do believe that I am in control of my own happiness. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a magic formula to flip the switch on. What I have found is that I can control my experience of happiness, deliberately doing the things that I know contribute to my happiness.
- Feeling and expressing gratitude.
- Being kind.
- Taking time to unplug everyday.
- Rebooting my mind by meditating daily.
- Finding the good things and celebrating them – all of them – big or small!
Practicing these habits of happiness don’t happen automatically – that’s why they are called habits. And I have learned a couple of things about habits: 1) developing a habit just “takes as long as it takes” to really stick (don’t give up) and 2) habits are formed easier in my life when I am connected to people that are working to form the same habits (find a community of support)!
So let’s start this New Year together; deliberately choosing to practice the habits of happiness; let’s encourage each other, and be kind to ourselves along the journey! Join our Meet up group and Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/happymatters/) to be a part of the Happiness Revolution!
I’m not a total scrooge this year, but I will be honest and tell you that I am not overwhelmed with the holiday spirit either. There could be many reasons…my kids are grown, we seldom experience a white Christmas, etc.. But I don’t think that’s it. I have come to realize I feel sad. I am also realizing that’s ok.
So many things seem to contribute to my sadness this year: different living arrangements, and the inability to “do what we always do.” There seems to be a loss of so many things, including unmet expectations. In the midst of the sad, there really is so much happy. But how can this be?
Sad is a part of happy and plays such an important role! I have decided to feel the sad; to mourn the losses, and then let it go! By doing this, I am actually making room for more of the happy …. And there is plenty of that. Getting stuck in the sad or ignoring it keeps me from seeing all there is to be grateful for, all the good I have.
It can be easy for me to withdrawal when I start feeling the sadness but connecting with another person is so important. Are you sad this season? If so, find that one person who can listen, cry, celebrate and be with you in the moment!
I may not be full of holiday cheer this year … You may not be either! And that’s ok. Let’s feel what we feel, look at what we can be grateful for, and enjoy the moments we do have!
I have found that meditation is as important to my happiness (flourishing) as gratitude! Science even backs me up on this one! As I started by journey to experience more … of everything … I was skeptical of what research reported meditation would do. But I was willing to try. In my journey I have learned that meditation is not at all what I thought it was. I don’t sit crossed leg on the floor burning incense! I sit anywhere and anyhow I want. I breathe and focus, and it works!
Because the most important part of meditation is learning compassion towards ourselves. My mind is going to wander – that is a given. To be critical of myself for my mind losing focus would be like yelling at a toddler for coloring on the wall. They are crayons … they are meant to be used to add color.
When a child colors on the wall, we re-direct them to color in the coloring book. It’s the same with meditation. We redirect our minds back to breathing. We don’t judge ourselves; we show compassion and understanding!
Seems like gratitude and meditation have a lot in common … both ensure we will build compassion and understanding in our lives.
Have a peaceful day!