BETTER: TRY NEW YEAR’S EVOLUTIONS INSTEAD OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
"You must unlearn what you have learned” -Yoda
Most resolutions don’t make it past Valentine’s Day. Why? Because real lasting change doesn’t occur overnight and like all common sense, this is so obvious yet so difficult in practice!
Patience has never been my strong suit but this year, I'm sticking to EVOLVING; slowly but surely closing the "intention-behavior gap" for an inspired life.
7 KEY HABITS FOR A NEW YEAR’S EVOLUTION:
Daily Dose Rx: Apply one habit a day. Repeat.
1) PATIENCE "Patient, must you be. Hmmmm." (Yoda-speak generator YODASPEAK)
The quickest way to be more patient, please!
The realization that rushing change is a complete waste of time, is a huge game changer! It’s like trying to make water boil faster. Yes, you can turn up the heat and put on the lid, ( I do both :-) but at a certain point, we just have to wait.
INstant INsight: Try this on for patience.
Recall a big achievement in your life: Growing 4 feet tall, graduation, wedding, profession, children, running a race, home renovation. How did it come about? How long did it take to get there? My evolution from traditional medicine into wellness took well over a decade of education, practice, and finally, a huge effort to start a new career. That’s not counting the childhood experiences that contributed to my obsession and passion for learning, changing, and looking for better preventive care: self-care .
Change! No problem! Relating better, eating healthier, sleeping better, and moving better takes immediate action and many more small meaningful choices over a lifetime.
2) Action Meditation: Exercise Bursts
Exercise fuels willpower by improving mental performance in adults and children, decreasing the stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and increasing endorphins, a natural pain killer and feel good hormone. Self-image improves and boosts your ability to stick to other goals in your life.
Not moving poses a greater risk of dying than smoking, obesity, or hypertension! From significantly lowering the risk of cancer to treating depression equally or better than drugs, the health benefits of exercise are truly impressive!
Most people list “no time” as the biggest barrier. Great news! Recent research highly recommends interval training.
Read about 1 to 10 minute bursts of movement throughout the day. The best thing: no special clothes, place, or time required!
Try this high impact HIIT sequence my awesome AQUA Studio master instructor Emma Galland made for my Get Calm & Thrive workshop!!
Or try one of my all time favorite app that even my ever so reluctant 14yo son will use: 12 minute athlete. Thanks Krysta!
3) Instant Insight: BELIEVE for unlimited willpower.
Luke: “I don’t believe it.” Yoda: “ That is why you fail.”
Believe in yourself. Remember even the smallest steps you took toward your goal. Even the fact that you have a goal counts!!
Recall something difficult that you overcame in your life. Know that you have the ability to live the life you want.
Great news! Willpower is not limited according to research by Stanford’s Carol Dweck, author of Mindset. Her study suggests that BELIEVING you have unlimited willpower is the key for self control.
4) Action Meditation: Know your core values to enjoy the ride and fuel your belief. Keep asking why until you feel exhilarated and strong.
Get a pen and paper.
The deeper we get to our source of motivation and purpose, the more we gain in joy and confidence.
Goal: I want to lose weight
Why? I want to look good
Why?? I want to feel energized and healthy for my loved ones
Why??? I only have this one miraculous body and I want to experience how far I can run, how high I can jump, how strong I can be!
Now create a specific goal and methods:
Today I will work on strength and flexibility by ___________________. Tomorrow… This week… This year…
Goal: I want to practice being more compassionate
Why? I want to relate better to my loved ones
Why?? I want to help others live fully and feel more inner peace
Why??? For me, Jack Kornfield's Buddha's Little Instruction Book sums it up: in the end, what matters most to me is how well I loved, how fully I lived, and how deeply I learned to let go.
Now create a specific goal and methods:
Today I will practice compassion by __________________________. Tomorrow… This week… This year…
5) Instant Insight: Self Awareness. Work with emotions. One of the most common reasons for giving up is guilt and shame. It piles on when we slip up on the way to our awesome goals.
Work with the guilt. Remember when you let yourself down. Maybe you yelled at your kids or if you’re a kid, maybe you yelled at your parents, or both. Maybe the only part of your body that moved today were your fingers. Maybe you finished off a box of ice cream because you felt lonely. Maybe all of the above.
Aware of the emotions you are having.
Name the emotion and negative thoughts. The simple act of naming the difficult emotion can bring you out of the stuck hopeless cycle. This is because language centers are located in the left cerebral cortex, the higher thinking brain, enabling you to snap out of the fight or flight, fear response. Wording is important: “I am having guilty feelings” as opposed to “I am guilty”. This gives us a separation between the emotion and our identity. It gives us MINDSPACE to see with clarity. We might sometimes graduate to “how curious, this guilt, anger, pain is. Hmmmm.” Name the negative thoughts, “blame”, “name calling”, that comes along for the ride: I’m a “failure”. She/he’s “unfair”, I’ll “never" change, It’s too hard, I’m not worth it.
ACCEPT the emotion and become aware of the connections among thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Yes, I am feeling guilt, I’m calling myself names, and I notice a feeling of hopelessness with words like “never”.
NORMALIZE the emotion. All humans feel this way at one time or another. It’s a normal knee jerk reaction when we don’t have instant change. Review #1: how futile it is to rush change.
ANALYZE Is this emotion productive? Does it motivate you to change things for the better? Does this emotion fit the reality of the situation? If the situation warrants sadness, anger, hurt, let it be. If it’s an overreaction to imagined woes, acknowledge it and look for more realistic facts about the situation.
SMILE for a body to brain feedback to let you know that this is not a life or death situation.
If nothing else, by the time you’re done remembering this acronym, you've tuned into your executive thinking brain automatically making you feel calmer! :-)
Notice positive emotions too: Upward Spiral BANANAS
Aware of when you feel energized.
NAME the emotions and positive thoughts.
ACCEPT it fully and enjoy (strange as it may sound, positive feelings are often laced with worries about losing the positivity or even sometimes, guilt!).
NORMALIZE that positive feelings will come and go.
ANALYZE what thoughts, physical needs, and perspectives brought about this positive feeling so you can make it happen more often.
BANANAS increases self-awareness and self mastery. For example, I recognized an emotional pattern to my day. I’m bursting with energy and creativity in the morning and around 6pm self doubt and negativity can creep in. This is actually a pretty common pattern related to most people’s circadian rhythms. This knowledge helps me tremendously: I write and finish difficult tasks in the morning and I plan for soothing activities and remind myself to be skeptical of my negative thoughts in the evening.
6) Action Meditation: Write out IF-THEN plans ahead of time. It's like making a protocol for tough situations where you won't have the power to think clearly. If-then, AKA “implementation plans" in behavioral science, is highly effective for behavioral change.
If I see junk food in the office, then I will run up and down 3 flights of stairs instead.
If I still want the food, then I will eat an apple first.
If I’m still hungry, then I’ll drink water.
If someone offers me alcohol, then I'll shout "I'm dying of thirst!" and drink glasses of water with lime until they're too drunk to notice that I'm not drinking with them.
If I feel myself getting angry, then I'll excuse myself to pee and listen to Slow Motion Anger or Practicing Our Best Self: Do-over until I feel fit for public consumption.
7) Action Meditation: We are social animals. We need support and connections. Social norms and support have a huge impact on our health related behaviors. Wanting to be a support for someone else's health benefit is also a strong motivator for many people.
Find a buddy who has similar needs and make plans to do something together toward the shared goals. Eat healthy together, run together, meditate together. Motivation is knowing that your friend is waiting for you on a dark corner for a morning run. If it can't be in person, even a simple accountability check-in by email or phone can keep you on the right track.
P.S.: “how curious, this guilt, anger, pain, is. Hmmmm.”
In psychology, this is referred to as metacognition, an awareness and ability to analyze one’s own mental processes. As far as we know, this is a uniquely human superpower, though some researchers suggest rhesus monkeys are capable.
Remember that real progress is not a straight line.
Wishing you much love, fun, and health in 2015!
Here's to BETTER!
Wishing you wellness,