03 Jan Live Happy
Well, it’s 9:30 am and I just rolled out of bed to a new year. 2014! I’d be more comfortable if it was May 2013. Where did the time go? I say that with more frequency the older I get. And with a new year comes that word we all anticipate with love and joy…. Resolutions! Yup! We’re obligated to make them, but given silent permission to forget about them before Cupid makes his appearance in February. But what if… what if… We had a method or system to actually make the changes we desired? What if our only goal this year was to “Live Happy”?
I just read a book called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson that I found extremely simple, but rather remarkable. He also just launched a magazine called “Live Happy” that debuted December 2013. (on news stands everywhere) Every single article is devoted to living a life of happiness. Seems to me that if we applied some of his techniques, all our other resolutions might just get resolved! So here goes. I’ll share some of his thoughts and you see if you don’t agree.
What’s the difference between success and failure? An expensive degree? A special talent? Good looks? Nope! Although those things are great, it’s as simple as a 5% change in your daily thoughts and activities. 5%! For instance, the simple things that are EASY to do are also the things that are easy NOT to do. And even though they’re seemingly insignificant, over time, they add up and compound either up or down on the continuum. We never stay stagnant. Successful people do the hard things that unsuccessful people refuse to do. They pay those bills, write those letters, resist that second cookie, say “I appreciate you” or “I’m sorry” immediately before it becomes an arduous task. They do the dishes and clean up the mess right after it happens rather than waiting until it festers into “The Blob” (scary sci-fi movie from the ’60’s)
Olson uses the good old diet analogy. We’ve all struggled with that one at one time or another. Will one meal of a cheeseburger, fries, and shake kill you? Of course not! But repeated time and time again may result in a visit from the dreaded shrinking clothes monster. Will it ruin you not to go to the gym today? Of course not! But…. sedentary living day after day sitting around eating those cheeseburgers… Well, you get the idea. As Jeff Olson says, the little things you do each day, that don’t seem to matter, DO matter. They pile up and become the big things.
So it really comes down to your philosophy. Until you change your attitude and way of thinking, New Years resolutions will tend to dissipate like the glaze on a Krispy Kreme baker’s dozen. By changing just 5%, you can have enormous success in your health, finances, outlook on life, etc! Choose the positive and productive answer each minute, each hour, each day. Like an unstoppable snowman rolling down a hill, these will pile up and produce great results. Easy? Maybe not now, but it only take 21 days to create a habit- good or bad. The opposite of that? Blaming others for our problems, feeling guilty for the “couldas” and the “shouldas”, playing the victim to rationalize why we failed. Choosing that every minute, every hour and every day? Stifled life, creativity and repeated failure. All that negativity can literally affect the chemistry in your body and wreak havoc with your health.
Martin Seligman, a noted psychologist, was ridiculed for the extensive work he did on positive psychology and how it affects overall health. His findings astounded his critics as he discovered that those who made “happy” and positive choices consistently were also those who made the difficult or “big picture” choices. They aren’t always the funnest, most convenient or easiest, but they’re definately the most rewarding in the long run because they produce results. Success.
At the end of each day, keep a list of “Things I accomplished or finished today”. You’ll be able to see in black and white those little things you did right! And guess what? Day after day, those become the big things! You’ve often heard about the benefits of making daily lists and goals. This will help reinforce your great habits and willingness to make that teeny tiny 5% difference. Everyone can do that! What are the consequences? Realized resolutions. Yippiee! Seligman devoted much of his positive psychology training to over one million soldiers who suffered from not so little things but who had been traumatized in battle. Rather than dwelling on the horrors and negative aspects, he taught them to get back in the saddle and remain positive. Why? He answers,
“Because the stronger and more emotionally resilient you are, the better you will be able to respond to pressure, crisis and tragedy. Emotionally resilient people after a traumatic event still ‘go through hell’ but rather than remaining traumatized for years afterwards, they actually grow to become emotionally stronger.”
They essentially learn to “live happy.” I wish this could guarantee that nothing bad would happen to any of us or our families this year. That there would be no disease, war, fighting, jobs lost, loneliness or poverty. But there will be; to each of us. However, we can choose how we react to what life brings us. Choice. It’s the one thing no one can take away from us. We choose how to react, what to eat, what task to complete, what relationship to cultivate, whether or not to take responsibility, or how to treat the inexperienced fast food kid. Why not choose happiness? Our world has enough people who are hard, enough people who are grumpy, enough people who are sad, and enough people who are starved for a simple smile, hand shake or hug. Why not from you? Why not from me? Contribute to someone’s happiness. It’s inexpensive to you, priceless to them.
So here are some suggestions. Each and every day, show up on time, be consistent (key!) do what you say you’re going to do, be patient and forgiving with others, especially yourself, and let the little things go. Yup, most of them are little things.
Next year, let’s wake up to 2015 and look back on 2014 with a big smile knowing that despite the challenges, we made a conscious decision for a LIVE HAPPY NEW YEAR! Make it a great one America!