Several times in my life I’ve decided that I was doing everything wrong and tried to overhaul my entire life in order to ‘get my life together’. I would create an exhaustive list of what the ‘Ideal Christina’ looks like and from that list, I would make a list of all of the changes that I would be making in my life – starting NOW. What ended up happening was that I was completely overwhelmed within days and by the end of the month I’d have given up completely.
And I’d feel horrible about myself.
I mentioned near the beginning of the year that I don’t typically like to save self-improvement for new year’s resolutions, so it was not at all uncommon for me to go through this cycle multiple times each year. I think that I completely gave up on improving myself at all last year because I just felt completely spent.
As I reflected on the upcoming season of Lent (a time of penance observed prior to Easter in which to reflect and work on the things that prevent you from reaching your true potential) food came to mind. My diet is a huge stumbling block for me. The thing that seemed the most problematic was that I eat late at night and that I eat at my desk (both ultimately mean that I’m eating in secret). So I made a promise that I would stop eating after dinner – unless everyone was eating (like for family movie night) and that I would not eat at my desk. As I write this, it just occurred to me that I have a jar of almonds that I was snacking on the other day (aak!) but other than that I’ve stuck to my promise pretty well. I’m beginning to feel a wonderful sense of self mastery – AND I’ve also lost about 3 pounds in the last two weeks which is awesome (but was not necessarily the purpose of this exercise).
In a couple of weeks, when I feel confident that I’ve created a new, positive habit I will add another thing from my incredibly long list of areas that I need to address and I’ll work on that until I feel ready for the next step.
I can do this.
So, what do you think? Do you prefer a complete overhaul or do you like to take it one step at a time?
It seems like it should be so easy but I’d venture to guess that most of us struggle with this virtue on some level in some area of our lives.
I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about how much I lack self control and how failing to rule myself limits me in so many areas. When I fail to exercise or eat right I suffer decreased energy. When I fail to complete my work efficiently during the day I have to work later and miss out on special time with my kids before they go to sleep – or I miss out on sleep that I desperately need. Maybe most important, when I fail to rule myself my self esteem suffers – and that makes EVERYTHING more difficult for me. Can you relate?
This year I am focusing on learning to master myself. I want access to all of the strength, vitality, and blessings that are available to me and I finally realize that there is no way I can unlock those doors when I am a slave to impulse and habit.
Check back tomorrow and I’ll share my plan and how it’s been working so far.
I know you want to look great – we all do. But as Mom would say, ‘looks aren’t everything honeybunch’.
Health is far more than the numbers on your bathroom scale, or on the tag inside of your pants. In fact there are a lot of other numbers that matter far more than those; like cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Even more important might be how you feel on a day to day basis.
Minute Movement isn’t about pushing yourself to your outer limit and then going back to your old routines. We want you to experience changes that will last a lifetime. And really, isn’t that what you want for yourself too?
As the year winds down my thoughts always turn to the the improvements I want to make in my life. I’ve found that grand resolutions at the beginning of the year don’t typically work well for me because I end up feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of ‘never again’ and sabotage my own plans. You know what works best for me? I set smaller goals for myself (throughout the year) instead of making huge, sweeping resolutions.
For example, I really want to improve my nutrition but I haven’t found a magic diet that works for longer than a few weeks – tops. The extreme deprivation, the innumerable salads stretching into my future, the stress of never having chocolate again. It doesn’t take very long for it to destroy my good intentions. Instead, I like to break down the larger goal – of ‘good nutrition’ – into more manageable steps like drinking 64 ounces of water daily or eating 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I track my progress and celebrate my successes (but NOT with food – usually). And before I know it I REALLY AM eating better – without feeling deprived!
So maybe you’re a fan of the grand resolution at the beginning of the year -lots of people are. But if you feel like that’s not been working well for you why don’t you try setting small, manageable goals instead?
Make Your Minutes Matter!
I know that most people focus on gratitude in early November but I’m a bit of a rebel. While I think calendar events that encourage self reflection are great, they should serve as reminders to get back on track instead of creating finite pockets of contemplation on various aspects of our lives. No one would argue that we should save love and romance for Valentine’s Day so why should we regulate thanksgiving to the month of November? This week (just before the Christmas rush really sets in) seems like the perfect time to practice the art of gratitude (which is expressing appreciation for what you have instead of focusing on your wants or needs).
My research unearthed several studies that were similar to one another both in format and outcome. In each of these studies, researchers instructed three groups of participants to journal about events or circumstances that had recently affected them. One group was told to focus their journal entries on events that they were grateful for, another on events that had displeased them, and the final (control) group was not given direction regarding the focus of their entries.
The studies found that people who practice gratitude (and this IS a practice, more about that tomorrow) enjoy a multitude of positive side effects in many aspects of their lives.
EMOTIONALLY, grateful people tend to experience higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and optimism. They reported more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, and lower levels of depression and stress. In fact one study showed that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by about 25% (even to the extent that “Spouses of the participants in the gratitude group reported that the participants appeared to have higher subjective well-being than did the spouses of the participants in the control group.”
Grateful people reported fewer HEALTH complaints, better energy, more regular exercise, more (refreshing) sleep and even a stronger immune system (according to Robert Emmons, Ph.D.,professor of psychology, and author of “Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity.” Gratitude functions as “a psychological immune system that bulletproofs you in times of crisis,”)
Of course, being grateful also impacts our SOCIAL lives, leaving us feeling considerably more connected with others – which makes us more likely to help them with their emotional or personal problems.
And for those of us struggling to make ends meet, gratitude appears to help us make greater progress toward achieving personal goals (SUCCESS), for all of the reasons above and because people who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back from adversity more quickly, and have stronger relationships (which can be a plus when you want to move up the corporate ladder).
So, it looks like gratitude really can make you happier and healthier but what if you just aren’t a very grateful person? Does that mean you’re doomed to never reach the heights of the grateful? Research does suggest that your body strives to maintain a basic level of happiness at a predetermined point similar to the way it strives to maintain a certain weight that feels natural, so when something bad happens to you, your happiness may drop for a while but will return to it’s natural ‘happiness set-point’. But deliberately practicing gratitude can raise your “happiness set-point”, allowing you to remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances. Check back tomorrow for a list of our favorite ways to increase your gratitude every day.
Do you have a passion that drives you or do you find it difficult to identify the deep forces that motivate you?
I’ve struggled with being aware of my passions from time to time and have even lived parts of my life unaware of why I do what I do. I thought I would share some of the questions that I use to help me that become aware of my passions.
What brings you deep joy?
What do you spend your time doing that brings you peace?
What is important to you?
What would you do if you only had one day to live?
When you were young what did you enjoy doing with your time?
What makes you laugh?
If you remove what you think you should be doing, now what would you be doing?
When you find your passion you will discover abundant energy, clarity, joy, and motivation. When you operate from a place of passion, you will be more present with yourself and equally important, you will be more present for others.