Now that the holidays are behind us, we begin to look at ourselves and start to make some kind of plan for the year to come.
This is not a modern idea as the ancient Babylonians, over 2500 years ago, made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. This promise is even relevant today in our modern commercialized world.
Unfortunately the fact is that around 88% of people will fail to follow through on their resolutions. So after making resolutions in 2014, 2015 will welcome these people still in debt, unhappy with their health, stressed and dreaming of a better life that may never come.
If you are like most people, you will seek to improve your life this year and are wondering where to start. Lifestyle change is complex and rarely easy, so a few short tips will not be the end of your journey to self improvement. You will have to constantly practice the art of course correction. You aim for your destination, get off course, re-adjust, go off again and continue in this way seemingly endlessly.
Our goal here at Be Well and Alive is to offer support on your wellness journey and here are 3 tips from the world of neuroscience and psychology to get you started-
1) Resolve to say “I will” not “I won’t”. Our brains run off a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine will inspire us to seek rewards and engage in behaviours that make us feel good. It is so powerful that it will overcome our desire to stop pleasurable activities (like overeating or over-spending) and make us do these things for the reward to come. If we can provide a new pleasurable activity to replace the one we may want to give up, we can shift the focus. Kind of like how you can distract an infant from crying over a lost toy by playing with a new one.
2) Make new friends. This one is often difficult or ignored, but for example if you want to stop drinking and your current social group drinks every weekend you will not change. We are social animals who have a herd mentality. In essence we conform to the behaviour of our tribe, society and environment. Find people who live the way you intend to (make more money, are physically fit, etc..) and you will automatically seek to “fit in” with this group and adapt accordingly. This approach is more powerful then most people realize, try it and find out!
3) Aim for success, prepare for failure. Any lifestyle change is going to be challenging. Celebrate small successes, find ways to make the process fun and exciting for your personality type. And be ready to have “trigger” moments when it feels impossible to change. When you are driven to do something you want to avoid (like overeat) plan for way to deal with it in advance; like phone a friend for support. Finally, even if you have a bad day, or week- DO NOT GIVE UP! Resume your plan and stay with it, until you make lasting change!