One of two things happens. Either you’ve already failed at your traditional New Year’s resolutions and you’re happy to restart, or you’re a person who’s more rigid about your commitments and so it feels weird to start this coming Monday instead of on the 1st. But then, that was secretly my first lesson to you….
Who cares where the planet is in relation to the sun when you decide to make changes? Why is the 1st important? Or why target 365 days? You’re not a planet, you’re a person. Your life happens in moments and you can enact health in any moment of any day. Someone you love may be dying and yet you can still feel grateful that their doctor is so good. So remember: you don’t succeed or fail all at once. Each moment is its own opportunity. Every new moment is a restart in the world of mental health.
I want to state that very clearly once more to make sure you’re going into this in a healthy, productive way: the people who are happier, more productive and more connected than you all still have death, disease, accidents, heartbreak, betrayals and trouble to deal with. Seriously. You don’t improve your life by making those things go away.
You need to take today and really dispel the idea that you can truly “succeed.” If a champion athlete hasn’t won their first championship yet, are they succeeding or failing at the gym? Or, if they never won a championship but they met their partner at an athletic event, was that succeeding or failing? Did you really want the trophy more than the spouse?
Also, anticipate that it would be very weird if you won 100% of the time. That would be so boring you wouldn’t even do that. Otherwise, why aren’t all of your games against people you know you could beat? Without challenge life has no flavour. We’re not here just to burn calories. We’re here to live, and that means overcoming challenges and growing in capability as a result.
Anticipate days where you’ll struggle. Accept them as valid stones to step on as you cross the water. It’s true, they’re slipperier and more likely to cause to go in, but there’s also no way to move around the lake of life without stepping on some. And you get better as you go. Again, everyone deals with those, even the people whose lives you think are fantastic. They just don’t take a fact and then make it worse with a bunch of fearful thinking.
So what do you do with the fearful thinking? Well that’s the thing, if it’s fearful generally your words are running away with your psyche in your head. You need to employ some detachment. Understand that your thoughts will lead to brain chemistry that will match your thoughts. The trick is, they’ll also appear to you to match the situation, so that’s where you’ll get confused.
That brain chemistry and your emotional reaction are not coming from the world and they are not happening to you. (Read that again.) Your emotions are from your thinking and they are generated by you. Most people leap to thinking that should mean that if they’re your thoughts that you should be able to change them whenever they want. Except those thoughts aren’t yours in the way you currently believe they are, but that’s too much to explain now. You’ll just know that when you’re thinking dies down enough so don’t worry about it. That will happen naturally.
So here’s your assignment: all you need to do today is to find two or three short biographies of people you admire; people you consider successful. And then read through them and note how nicely all of the really hard, painful parts are written about. “After overcoming that challenge so-and-so poured their heart into their new album…” Oh wait, you mean that rock star had to go through the pain of a divorce to write those great songs? Find their pain. Make them more like you, because you’re more like them than you realise.
Do it. Find the bios. Read them on Wikipedia or in an article. Just take some down time that you would have used to shop or surf the internet and instead do this and start your route to better health. Do the work to dispel the quiet lie you’ve always told yourself. The people you want to be don’t have better lives than you, they just have more control over their thinking. That is a do-able task for all of us, so you can relax until Monday. We’ll start there and we’ll get you where you’re going one moment at a time. Have a wonderful weekend.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.