With the new year often comes new year’s resolutions and a lot of messages out there that emphasize a “New Year and a New You.” But I want to de-emphasize the part about having to change yourself for the better or the idea that you have to reinvent yourself for the new year. Instead, I want you to focus on how to do more of what is going well for you. How can you maintain a level of self-care and happiness that will fill you up with all things good and sustain you.
You probably don’t hear it enough, so I want to tell you that you are enough and that you have what it takes to create and maintain the level of self-care and happiness that you want. Whatever that means for you and how you want to manifest it. You don’t have to reinvent yourself but instead focus on things that are going well for you. Start from there.
As a culture we have what is called a negativity bias, meaning we tend to focus more on things that are going bad instead of what is going well. We often dwell on the negative. When we dwell on the negative, it trains our brains to continue that cycle of thought.
In contrast, when we train our brain to focus on the positive, or what is going well, then things can look a lot brighter. We may not be able to control other people’s actions, or even world events, but what we can control is our reaction to those actions and events. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get angry, upset, sad, or anxious about what is going on – having those feelings are part of being human and should be expressed. It’s about knowing how to move through those feelings in a productive way that will motivate instead of suppress our ability to live life with meaning and purpose.
How do you do that? It starts with having the right mindset.
Our mindset shapes how we behave, how we interact with others and the world around us.
Here’s a short exercise that you can try to help you cultivate a positive mindset. It will help you focus on what is going well and help you set your goals for the year based on that. Remember it’s about focusing on self-care and love for ourselves and finding practices that sustain us especially through the hard times.
Part 1 of exercise:
Get out a piece of paper or a fresh page in your notebook or journal. Allow yourself at least 10- 15 minutes for this exercise.
Write down all the things from the past year that went well for you. List as many as you can. There is nothing that is too small or big to mention.
Here are some examples:
Getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to do stretches.
Eating one more serving of vegetables in the day.
Walking every day for at least 20 minutes.
Seeing the sunset at the beach.
Getting that parking spot near the entrance on Christmas eve shopping.
Finding change in the bottom of the car when I thought I had no money left for the parking meter.
You get the idea. Celebrate the big wins as well as the things that went well even though they may seem trivial or small. Small wins are still wins and noticing them will train your brain to be grateful for the small blessings we get every day.
Part 2 of the exercise:
After having your list of things that went well last year, look over the list and circle the ones that you would like more of this year.
Get a new piece of paper. Write down the items you circled on the paper.
Things that are going well that I’d like to continue for 2022:
Seeing more sunsets at the beach
Walking every day for 20 minutes
Eating 4-6 servings of vegetables a day
Leaving notes in my daughter’s lunch box and seeing her smile
Put them up where you’ll see it the most, in front of the mirror, by your desk, in your notebook or planner.
Wishing you a healthy and happy start to the new year!
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