For many people, this time of year is magic. Whether you’re Christian, Jewish or Muslim, there are traditions and celebrations galore. The smell of pine, fir and spruce is in the air from Christmas trees big and small. There are … Continue reading
1. Make a U-Turn.
Instead of feeling hopeless and victimized, believing you are just one person and can’t do anything, recognize that you need to start telling yourself that you’re going to be in control, in charge of the one thing you really can be in charge of — yourself.
2. Talk to Yourself, Out Loud, Every Day.
Stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye and make affirmative statements to yourself.
“I am strong. I am smart. I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to.”
Say these over and over to yourself until you start to feel the power of your words inside your body.
3. Make Behavioral Changes to Go With Your New Mindset.
Set short-term goals to put these changes into practice.
a) I will say hello with a smile to five strangers everyday.
b) I will lift my head high and walk with my shoulders back an hour the first day, and an additional hour each day after that.
c) I will turn off my cell (phone and text) one hour a day and interact with a live human being.
These first three behavioral activities may take you a while to implement. Before you start, sit down, read them through carefully and decide how long is a reasonable time for you to accomplish these changes. Remember you have to actually feel different, not just act different. Pick a time frame for yourself, perhaps three to five weeks, then dive in. Don’t procrastinate, no matter how many good reasons you have.
When your three to five weeks is up, and you are handling these tasks well everyday, you are probably starting to wonder what this has to do with changing the world.
Well I have a surprise for you. You already have changed your world by changing the most important thing in your immediate universe — yourself.
You may already be getting comments from friends and family, telling you things like “You seem different but I’m not sure how” or “You seem much more confident when we talk.” You may notice people having a different and positive response to you when you walk past standing tall, smiling and saying hello. They may smile back and say something nice.
These are all very good changes and you can feel proud of yourself even if you do nothing more, but you are going to do much more, because you want to change the world.
4. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen.
My experience with several thousand clients has shown that the visceral process of putting pen to paper and seeing your thoughts go from your mind and heart to your paper aids in forging a stronger commitment. Make a list of the 10 problems in the world that concern you most, the ones you believe most urgently need changing. Look your list over and decide which one is most important to you, then prioritize them, most important to least important. This is backup for later.
5. Take a different piece of paper and write down what specifically needs to be done to bring about this change.
For example, Reverse Climate Change. On the second paper you might put:
1 – Eliminate fossil fuels
2 – create new legislative standards for car emissions
3 – implement changes in beef production to cut down methane emissions
Just continue your list like this. You may have 10, 20, 30 items when you’re done. There’s no right or wrong amount. This is your list, you’re in charge.
There are the difficulties of developing relationships with your new in-laws and learning how to handling fighting with your soon-to-be spouse. The list goes on and on but I want to get back to my 2 concerns.
The first, and to me as a Marriage and Family Therapist for many years, the most serious, is about expectations. If I had a dollar for every time a young woman or man or an older woman or man said to me, “My wedding is going to be the best day of my life” I’d have an awful lot of dollars.
I’d like to break this sentence down. “My wedding (a single event) is going to be the best day of my life.” If that were to turn out to be true, and based on what couples tell me after their weddings are over, it almost never is true even at the time, then what does that say about your hopes of happiness for the rest of your life? Apparently, these people think it’s all downhill from the wedding. Putting such pressure on a single day, a single event causes tremendous stress on everyone to try and make everything perfect, and we all know nothing is ever perfect.
According to GoodTherapy.org, quoting a book by R.S. Miller (2011) called Intimate Relationships, couples site constant pressure, criticism and opinions from others as sources of substantial stress when planning a wedding. They also indicate that finances, and expectations for perfection (unattainable) are equally stress-producing per H.T. Reis, Rusbult, C.E. (2004) in his work “Close Relationships: Key Readings. N.Y. Psychology Press
Why does this concern me? Because when perfection is not achieved, depression and self-criticism often sets in. I see couples come in and feel deflated. They had such high expectations for their wedding day and then there were problems. The band wasn’t as great as they’d thought. The food was too cold. The flowers were wilted. The guests didn’t seem to have much fun. And even when all these things went really well, many couples feel let down after the day itself. I believe this is because reality has now set in and the real work of being married and learning to live with someone else and be committed to that person forever feels overwhelming. So many brides and grooms feel doubt. Did they pick the right person? Why aren’t they feeling all tingly and excited anymore? Can they really stay with only one person for the rest of their lives? Coming from such a high as the perfect wedding expectation back to the real world is a roller coaster ride and can be quite devastating. If couples had realistic expectations for their wedding day it would make for a much smoother transition.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of last month were telling us two and a half hours of exercise could lower your risk for these diseases. You don’t need to run a marathon or climb Half-Dome at Yosemite. You just need to do some moderate intensity aerobic activity. For any of you who don’t know it, weight-bearing workouts (cables, weights etc.) are definitely aerobic…I know this first-hand. If you can handle it, doing more is better. Building up to something every day is the best. You can start slow and gradually get where you want to be.
Type 2 Diabetes is practically at epidemic proportions in our country now, even in kids. Getting them off the couch, away from the video games, and moving is the best gift a parent or friend can give. You may be saving a life. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing this deadly disease and even if you already have it, it can lower your blood glucose levels. If you have the notorious fat roll around your waist and/or high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar (otherwise known as Metabolic Syndrome), the same amount of aerobic activity will lower your rate of getting these conditions. These are also not the two things I am talking about, but we’ll get there.
According to Scientific American in a January 2009 article, they quote the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging Americans to do moderate exercise for two and a half hours a week. They recommend brisk walking, water aerobics, or more vigorous running, swimming, or cycling for an hour and fifteen minutes a week. These are all good forms of exercise but are generally outside except for the cycling or running which you can do at the gym. I personally prefer weight-bearing exercise as it has many additional benefits such as weight-loss and toning and can be done indoors, even at home, all year. There is ample evidence now that exercise will add years to your life. People who are NOT couch potatoes live an average of three to seven years longer. You can get a lot of good stuff done in those extra years and have a lot of fun.
But these things are still not the ones I want to tell you about. So let’s move on to those. The 2 Great Things Exercise is Guaranteed to Do For You are: