By now, as we’re nearing the halfway point of January, the shiny newness of your resolutions might be wearing off. Even if you didn’t make any formal 2017 resolutions, I bet there are some things you’ve vowed to do better with this year. If you’re like me, you’re the kind of person who is always tweaking and adjusting aspects of your life to try and make it happier, more productive, and more efficient. Almost everyone loosens up a bit around the holidays, so the beginning of January is a natural restart button.
Unfortunately, most people get excited about big changes but have a lot of trouble sticking with new routines or cutbacks. Often when people try and implement drastic changes that are uncomfortable or tedious they end up falling back on old, bad habits pretty quickly. When we try big and fail we can be really hard on ourselves. When you’re really hard on yourself in a negative way it can cause you to completely give up. When you completely give up, things can spiral out of control pretty quickly. When we make poor choices in regard to our health we don’t look or feel our best and we often make more bad decisions. When life become completely intolerable we set yet another big bunch of goals and swear we’re going to stick to all these drastic changes for real this time. And can you guess what happens next? Yep, it’s a vicious cycle.
So, today I want to talk a little about an interesting idea based on the power of positive thinking that goes along with the new year/reset theme.
I recently read about this idea in the New York Times. The article is called, “Writing Your Way to Happiness“. The concept is really basic and requires just a small amount of time and effort.
Studies have proven that when we’re struggling with something and we “rewrite” our own story in a non-judgmental and positive way, it actually makes us more successful in our lives. Like real, physical results! The idea is that you literally write out a paragraph describing (truthfully!) how you’re doing and what you’re doing, but in a completely positive light.
For example, let’s imagine that although you really let things slide over the holidays and gained some unwanted weight, you made a resolution to work out for 20 minutes every day and follow a meal plan that requires you to do a fair amount of planning and prep. Unfortunately, you were unable to finish your first three workout due to extreme fatigue and are still dying to scarf down frozen pizza when you get home from work. So, instead of thinking, I gave up halfway through my workout and my pants don’t fit and I hate salads and I’m a big fat failure, you try the writing exercise.
Find 20 minutes for yourself. Sit down and actually type or handwrite something like this: “I am a warrior. I killed myself for 15 minutes today and I almost finished my workout. It’s my goal to finish a 20 minute workout by the end of this week. I will succeed. Even though I didn’t want to shop for my new meal prep, I did. I took the holiday time to be unselfish and spend every moment with my family. Now that I am full of love and had so much bonding time, I am ready to spend more time on myself and my personal health. I will persevere, even when it gets hard, boring, or uncomfortable”. Then put it on your fridge, or save it on your phone so you can read it when you feel down.
Writing something down can often help us to see where we’re struggling and how we can do a better job of attacking that particular obstacle.
Maybe you’re feeling so down about things you can’t even find a way to positively rewrite your story. But sometimes just writing about how we feel can help us to be honest with ourselves or clarify things that were all tangled in our minds. I recommend keeping a daily journal for that reason alone.
I’ve written about this before, but I also find that writing down goals, things I’ve accomplished during the day, or things I feel grateful for helps me to lead a more satisfied and appreciative life.
Do you keep a daily journal? Are you struggling to keep some 2017 resolutions? Would anyone be willing to share their “rewritten” paragraph about their goals in the comments below? I’d love to read them, it’s so motivating to me. Positive thinking is contagious!