I never feel like the new year has officially begun until after my birthday is over. Being a January baby has its advantages. For me, the celebratory feeling from Christmas is still lingering and I’m not ready to let go of the holidays until after January 9th when all the candles are blown out, the final present is opened, and the last piece of cake consumed. I always feel like I use this time to unwind from the busy holiday season, get back into a routine, and be thoughtful about the year behind and the year ahead. My birthday is truly the start of my new year.
So it felt serendipitous this morning when I just happened to check my junk mail folder and saw that my favorite podcast email from The Unmistakable Creative had been delivered there by mistake. (I never check my spam folder, so there was definitely some divine intervention there!) This email is a list of podcasts, blog posts, and videos from Srinivas Rao on many topics from business success and motivation to happiness and creativity. I highly recommend signing up!
The subject line of this particular email was “How to Make This the Most Prosperous Year of Your Life.” “Perfect!” I thought. My year is just starting and who doesn’t want to be prosperous, right? One of the links stated that “If you’re in the habit of making New Year’s Resolutions that you don’t keep, stop and do this instead.” Ok, again,definitely me! Hello God, it’s me Dana. Apparently you ARE listening! So I clicked on it and it took me to NerdFitness.com.
First, I greatly enjoyed the picture of the Lego storm troopers setting up the year “2016” Lego blocks and the little guy in the back bravely holding up the number 5. So cute! Even if you don’t read the whole post you’ve got to at least go and see this! In a nutshell, Steve talks about how you can use your habits, your environment, and the people around you to reach your goals. While his site is mainly focused on diet and exercise, I immediately saw how these three things related to my goal to be more positive this year. (If you don’t think you can change your outlook through positive thinking, read this post.)
Systematically be more positive
I got a lot out of this post, but my main takeaway today was how Steve wrote about taking willpower out of the equation and setting up systems for success. I immediately found myself thinking of a little experiment I had tried last year whereby every time I had a negative thought I tried to replace it with a positive one. This can be illuminating when you first start the practice and realize how many negative thoughts are flying through your brain in a single day! For me it was a lot! Once you begin to systematically switch your thoughts to something more positive, it becomes a habit that is no longer so difficult. You begin to do it automatically.
For example, one night when I had a really bad tennis match, losing in a tiebreak at the very end, I was completely bummed out. Normally I would lie awake the whole night analyzing every bad shot I had made and beating myself up over the loss. Instead, I took out a pen and paper and wrote down all the positives from the match.
- I’m healthy enough to run around and play a game I love.
- I got two hours worth of great exercise and fresh air.
- It was a beautiful night with a gorgeous sunset.
- I enjoyed seeing my friends.
- Maybe I’ll fit into my “skinny” jeans next week!
It totally changed my attitude. I was looking at the night as a wonderful blessing and not a total failure. I slept like a baby.
I’ve also found myself complaining about sitting in traffic. Instead of griping, I turned up the radio and saw it as a chance to enjoy my favorite 80’s tunes. When I complain about having to get up to go to work in the morning, I remind myself how someone out of work would love to be getting up right now to go to a job. It helps me pay the bills, I love what I do, and I work with great people. It’s amazing how just a small shift in your thoughts can make a huge difference in how you feel and your overall happiness.
While I still have to work hard at this practice, I’m making it a goal this year to form a habit of positivity. Now that my new year has started, I’m on the road to a happier, more positive year. I would love to hear if you have any good tricks for staying positive. I’m always open to suggestions!