You can do it – one thought at a time.
January is here. Did you cross the starting line with a bang or a fizzle? Are you sticking to your goals or have they already fallen back onto the to-do list? No judgments, just a small friendly check in to see how you are doing.
Here’s the thing: Before you declared your New Year’s resolutions, you already knew whether you were going to accomplish them or not. Before you wrote them down, before you shared them on Facebook or before you promised yourself this was the year you would finally do “it,” your brain had already decided whether you were going to be successful.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
Willpower and healthy habits go a long way to designing a life of your dreams, but the No. 1 factor that comes into play when deciding whether you will be successful is not what you are doing but how you “think” you are doing. And it would be nice to start with a blank slate, but with life, it is impossible to have a completely blank canvas. We have experiences and memories that have created who we are today and are a part of the fabric of our being.
What we do get to choose is which things we want to leave in 2016 and which things we want to bring into the new year to use as a foundation for creating our magnificent future.
This year, let’s clean the slate of the thoughts that dwell in “if,” “could,” and “should.” This year, we are going to create a picture that we paint with the colors of possibility, potential and purpose.
In January – today! – you get to leave your broken dreams at the door between then and now. We are going to approach 2017 from the same perspective that Michelangelo viewed his masterpieces as he was creating them. He believed that he was not “creating” something new but “uncovering” what was already there.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Along with that fresh perspective on your goals, let’s think of happiness as interval training to get you through the ups and downs of life. You can train your brain and strengthen your resilience to stretch for your dreams and reach for your desires by moving your body, your brain (aka your thoughts) and your breath so that you can design a life that elevates your joy, passion and productivity.
It starts now. Here are three Happiness Hacks for January. They are questions or prompts designed to help you uncover the best of you. Our time is precious, especially at the beginning of the year, so check out the approximate amount of time each step will take to complete.
1. Take a moment and write down all the things that you accomplished in 2016 that have already moved you closer to your goals.
Time: 5-10 minutes
In January, we often look ahead to see how far we have to go. This action step allows you to see just how far you have already come. It allows you to see that you are probably at least 25 to50 percent closer to your goals than you thought.
2. Think back to a time when you felt proud and write that experience down. What were you doing? What did you have to overcome? How did you feel?
Time: 10-15 minutes
We feel pride when we have pushed ourselves farther than we thought we could go or helped someone else go through a challenging time. Healthy pride is an important emotion that is necessary for our growth and well-being. This action step reminds you that you have gone through challenging times in the past and will be able to face challenges again in the future.
3. Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey
Time: 20-30 minutes
I can’t think of a better way to begin the year than celebrating who you already are. Your brain loves to point out all the things that you are not good at, but it is important to acknowledge your strengths because they will keep you buoyant during the challenging times. You don’t need a rock-hard body to rock your life, but you do need a strong foundation.
Go to viacharacter.org and take the free character assessment. It is science-based proof of just how awesome you already are.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock, denisismagilov and mimagephotos.