Many of us wait for some sort of milestone to begin the action steps that need to happen in order for change to occur. Perhaps the most popular milestone is New Years and the famous New Year’s resolution. A recent poll found these to be the most common resolutions: Eat better/lose weight; Exercise more; Spend less money; Self-care (e.g. getting more sleep); Read more books; Learn a new skill; Get a new job; Make new friends; New hobby; Focus more on appearance; Focus on relationship; Cut down on cigarettes/alcohol; Go on more dates; Focus less on appearance.
What I notice about these and most resolutions is that they call upon us to make a fundamental change in the core of our being—sometimes even shake up our values.
In order to achieve your resolution, I suggest focusing on different goals. Sure, it is good to have something tangible in mind, but the resolutions have a way of happening when you apply the following 7 goals first.
1. Practice gratitude
When you begin focusing on what you have instead of what you do not, it has a way of abolishing insecurity. With less insecurity, your inner confidence begins to leak out and slowly starts taking over, making it easier to pick and choose what resolutions you wish to accomplish.
2. Resist the urge to judge
Me judge? Come on, not me! Maybe you, but I never judge. Well, truth be told, all of us judge, automatically, instinctively, it is in our DNA. It is our inherent drive, thanks to our primitive, animalistic automatic brain, to scan the landscape for would-be competitors (or predators back in the day of our cave-dwelling ancestors). When we judge, however, we end up putting a lot of energy into what someone else possesses and it takes us away from recognizing our own gifts and talents.
3. Make forgiveness my first reaction
Our primitive brain, I call the automatic brain or AB, works to make us fight or flee potential danger, threat, or vulnerability. That is our initial reaction most of the time. So if someone does us wrong, one-ups or disrespects us, well our AB will cause us to fight or flee them, which usually looks like anger, passive-aggression, or avoidance, as the silent treatment. When we act in accordance with our higher mind, which I believe is the gateway to our Divine nature, it allows us to forgive. It doesn’t mean to allow ourselves to be manipulated. No, it is an acknowledgment that the person is flawed, as are you and I. The flaw comes from their AB. If you wish to tap into your Divine nature instead, you will work on forgiving more and watch how much more peaceful and enjoyable your life becomes.
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4. Be joyful for no reason
When asked, “What do you look for in a partner?” Many women respond, “Someone who makes me laugh.” Maybe I’m a party pooper, but this line always strikes me as odd. Who does she want to date? A court jester? A circus clown? Certainly, a sense of humor is a great quality to have. However, it is a burden to make your happiness the responsibility of another person. Try making yourself laugh for absolutely no reason. Try laughing a something silly you did. Make a funny face in the mirror. Just choose to be joyful. It starts with walking around with a smile on your face and standing up straight.
5. Fearlessly practice self-honesty
This is challenging, as most people think they are being honest. Nevertheless, we all hold tightly to previously established beliefs and biases. Even when they might not be completely based in reality or shown to be false, we often dig our heels in and fight for them—consciously or unconsciously. Not being honest with yourself will sabotage any resolution. You will need to nurture the ability to call yourself for past and current mistakes. But also, you will need to engage #3 above and forgive yourself, too. Look honestly at your actions. Do they stem from jealousy? Regret? Blame? Resentment? Guilt? Worry? Insecurity? Be fearless in pursuit of your truth.
6. Practice self-discipline
If you truly wish to live free, then you must practice and nurture this. Self-discipline will help you rise above the primitive, animalistic urges of your AB. When you do that, you come face to face with your higher mind, the gateway to your pure potential—who you really are and were born to be. One of the objections told to me by overweight or obese patients is that they do not like watching what they eat—they are free to eat what they want without restriction. But in essence, they are not being honest, because when we eat above sustenance (i.e. what we need to survive), it is because we are on autopilot being driven by our automatic brain. Any addiction is this way. Nurture self-discipline and achieve the life that you were born to live.
7. Live with faith
Recently someone commented on this list by saying that I lost him with this final entry. He is a devout atheist and he found this goal insulting to his intelligence. As mentioned above, beliefs and biases have their way of altering our actions and by digging our heels into the reality of our five senses often blocks access to a wonderful world and life. One of the benefits of growing older is that I have a long list of previous worries that I can now look back on and see that they actually worked out okay. Maybe they did not work out precisely as I expected, but they certainly did not turn out as my anxieties predicted. Living with faith is living with a belief that if my intentions are pure then the right things will happen, at the right time, for the right reasons, and will be exactly right for my family and me. Call that God, as do I, or something else—makes no difference. Just understand that there are processes going on that we cannot comprehend and they are working in our best interest.
These may not be the 7 goals you would expect from a doctor, but what I have learned over my career is that creating a positive attitude by instituting such goals has a ripple effect of good health on your mind, body, and spirit.
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