We are mere days away from the month of March, which means we are probably light years away from all those New Year’s Resolutions set back in January. But don’t worry, it’s not too late to begin or even begin again.
I read an article recently titled “Get Real Resolutions” that caught my eye and made me think. The piece in Family Circle magazine spoke about not the usual “lose weight,” “stop smoking,” or “eat healthy” vows but instead unexpected goals that might just change your life. I liked many of those listed, researched the subject, put my brain and heart to work, and have created some “get real” resolutions. See what you think!
Embrace a mantra each morning. I like this one as I love words and I love inspiration. A mantra is simply a repeated word or phrase to set the tone for the day. You set an intention, such as “be a warrior not a worrier,” (I need that one for sure!) and move on. My mantra right now is “Keep moving the chains.”
Stretch for five minutes every morning. Yay! I actually do this! I love my yoga class so each morning I do a few stretches and poses…nothing too intense but rather just enough to take away stiffness and get me on my way.
Say no once a day. This is sometimes hard to do, but think about it. How many times do you say “yes” to something and then either regret it or dread it. Remind yourself that just because people you like enjoy doing something, it doesn’t mean you have to. Pick and choose and choose wisely. Which brings us to…
Set personal boundaries. “Boundaries” are common in therapy and codependency, but everyone should set boundaries. Author Courtney Carver (her book “Soulful Simplicity is one of my faves, as is her bemorewithless blog.) reminds us that businesses often have policies to let employees know what is expected of them, and when it comes to ourselves, those “policies” can be the boundaries we set up so others know what to expect from us and sometimes and more importantly, what not to expect. Without boundaries we fall into that trap of saying “yes” when we really want to say “no” and we stay quiet when we want to participate or disagree. When setting boundaries, just remember one thing: there is only one person who can honor your boundaries 24-7: you!
Don’t schedule your free time. A study by professors from Ohio State and Rutgers Universities came to the conclusion that in order to be happier, stop scheduling your free time. When a leisure activity is planned, they told the Washington Post, we enjoy it less as it just becomes another item on our “to-do” list right up there with a dentist appointment and taking our car in for service. This may all come down to the fact that society is so obsessed with being busy. Personally, I think busyness is overrated and how I spend my time and days is really none of anyone’s business. Making our leisure activities part of our productivity goals will not only make them feel forced, they won’t fee fun.
Find a hobby. Multiple studies show that doing things you are passionate about improves your mood, relieves stress, and creates joy in your life, so it’s time to leave your to-do list behind and find your athletic, intellectual, or creative side. A dear friend of mine in Pennsylvania recently revisited painting and she is in heaven with her classes and results, which are beautiful! My annual New Year’s Resolution has forever been “Learn something new,” and finding a hobby runs right along these lines. Although taking Italian and ice skating lessons didn’t turn into hobbies for me, yoga and cross-stitching did. This blog started out as a way for me to do what I love, write, but morphed into not only a hobby but much more. My 2019 resolution has been to learn about podcasts and find some I love. I already have and have found a small handful of them that inspire and motivate me.
Read something spiritual or inspirational before checking your phone each morning. This was actually suggested on one of those podcasts I’ve recently discovered and I vowed to do it. Some mornings I do, some mornings I don’t. Sadly phones have their own lights so you can easily check them in the dark without having to turn on a light. But, if I do the phone first, I check my emails and read at least one of four daily inspirational emails I get.
Ask for help once a day. Do what? Are you kidding me? I’m so strong and self-sufficient I don’t need any help. Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to start asking for help. Those who admire and love you should be more than happy to lend a hand or give advice and will very likely be honored you asked. This positive cycle of giving and getting is a win-win for all.
Plan a staycation. Yes, we all love those vacations to places on our Bucket Lists we hope to one day visit, but traveling is expensive and stressful travel, especially if it involved air travel. Instead, plan a night in a local glamorous or funky local hotel, eat somewhere you never have, and take part in some entertainment or activity you might not normally do. You will feel invigorated and stimulated.
Get a daily dose of nature. To be in nature is to be nurtured. A good friend of mine is currently hiking and backpacking through Patagonia and commented that she forgot how important nature is to her attitude and sense of happiness. I’m not quite there with her as binging on Netflix or reading a good book are as liked by me as taking a walk. Sadly, I often say I want to walk more but end up doing it sporadically. It doesn’t help that the weather has been anything but stable lately and it will be in the 100s before I know it so I do make sure I always have the next best thing in my house: fresh flowers and real plants. They are proven to make you happy and remove toxins. So, if you can’t go outside, bring eh outside inside.
Don’t rush. This one’s easy for me as I love being in my home, am never bored in my home, and can be a bit of a homebody at times. For me, this one not only means “slow down people,” but also “don’t rush to do something.” An example of this happened just this morning, long before I started writing this blog. I woke up early (rare for me if I don’t have to) and immediately started thinking of all the things I needed or wanted to get done today. But for some reason, instead of crossing things off my list, I hopped back in bed and watched an episode of HBO’s brilliant “My Brilliant Sister.” (My brilliant friend in Florida recommended it, and if you haven’t seen it, check it out.) But even though I could have easily selected the “next episode starts in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds” option, I didn’t. I simply closed my eyes for just a bit and sat in silence. I then got up so refreshed and inspired.
Clean out your social media accounts. Not only are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the likes massive time-wasters, they can also be demoralizing and depressing. They are also highly addictive. I know. I can tend to scroll post after post and then do it all again. But all those photos of fabulous vacations and fabulous friends are echo chambers of negativity for many and are now true addictions as well. In fact, tech obsession now has 12 step programs that deal with everything from social media to video games. For these people, technology has officially gotten in the way of daily functions and is negatively affecting their jobs, families, and even self-care. Okay I’m not that bad, but I vow to unplug more often as I know full well that the world doesn’t stop spinning if I’m not on my smart phone and the same holds true for you.
Make an inventory of people you listen to. I don’t mean on TV or in music, I mean really listen to, as in friends, spiritual leaders, family members near and far, talk radio, and maybe even motivational podcasts. Then, consider if the lives they are living are worth emulating and if they are people you truly admire and respect. Start listening to these people more and find ways to eliminate listening to those who bring you down, who you don’t respect, or who are just toxic. Next…
Ask yourself “who do I envy?” The answer will say a lot about you. It might be highly personal and eye-opening, but once you list those you are jealous of you will see your priorities right in front of your face and hopefully be motivated to change them accordingly. For example, if you envy your neighbors with the big houses, maybe you need to be less materialistic. But, on the other hand, if you’re jealous of someone who is in good shape, use that envy productively by taking on a healthier and more active lifestyle. From there…
Ask yourself what you lie about. Again, doing so will not only raise your own awareness and reveal weaknesses you have, it will hopefully encourage you to eliminate what you do lie about and embrace a life that better reflects your true values. Asking yourself why you lie about certain things is also helpful.
Forgive every first of the month. Holding on to grudges or waiting on hoped for apologies does nothing but make us angry, anxious, or even antisocial. Instead, every first of the month think about anyone who annoyed you, hurt you, lied to you, or did anything that was unpleasant or mean and internally forgive them. You have to move on after doing so though. At the same time, remember to forgive yourself for things.
Change your phone’s wallpaper weekly. I love this idea but I don’t know if I’ll do it. My goal is to maybe change it monthly for starters and see how I like it. The problem is, I always have a favorite photo as my lock screen and I might miss it when it’s gone. But, the suggestion of not only using photos but also inspirational quotes, gratitude boosters, or other uplifting messages as wallpaper is intriguing to me. I’ll keep you posted!
Get rid of five things every month. This may sound like getting rid of all your belongings by a certain time, but think about how many things you buy each month. Getting rid of five things won’t result in a blank slate or state of minimalism, but instead a more tranquil and less cluttered one. Do you really need every wooden spoon in the kitchen or 50 pairs of socks?
As a friend once posted, “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” I hope these set you on that path of happiness and would love to hear if you have any to add.