My new year’s resolution is ...
Research has shown that about 75 percent of people stick to their goals for at least a week, and fewer than half (46 percent) are still on target six months later. The truth is, it can be hard to keep up the excitement months after you’ve brought in the new year, but it’s not impossible.
Each January, millions of individuals select a list of goals to achieve. Most people have the same or similar resolutions for the New Year: lose weight, exercise, save money, pay off debt or achieve that one thing (whatever it may be) that will, at long last, make them happy.
These are all excellent resolutions, especially if you are able to keep them up past Jan. 31. But for 2013, have you ever considered keeping things simple and focusing your attention on one main goal: to think more positively?
Now, let’s consider what positive thinking encompasses. According to psychotherapist Clare Pointon, positive thinking is a mental attitude that focuses on admitting and retaining thoughts, words and images that are important for us to grow and be successful. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health, and a successful outcome of every situation and action. Whatever the mind expects, it acquires. I’m not talking about being an extremely happy, irrational and bubbly optimist; by positive thinking, I mean turning around some of the negativity that consumes our minds every day into something more productive.
As human beings, it’s easy for us to view the negatives instead of the positives that surround us. Many individuals are approaching the new year with a decreased amount of money and increased burden of stress and hostility from others. To many, the coming year looks like a year of uncertainty and trouble. But it does not have to be that way. The question is, “How can you make your new year a more positive and happier year?” After all, it’s a “new year, new you.”
For starters, you can resolve to approach the perceived negatives that come your way more positively. Negativity hurts us all and drains our ability to get things done and makes us doubt everything, even ourselves. Negativity can also make others avoid you. Friendships, opportunities and success almost always decrease on those who are negative. Ask yourself: Who wants to be around a negative person?
So let’s review some tips that we could take to have a more productive year. No one has to avoid reality and go around wearing a big smile all the time. Remember, thinking positive does not mean denying what is wrong, but instead looking for ways to change the situation.
A Few Tips to Have a More Positive Year for 2013
• Explore and identify areas to change. First, identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about—whether it’s work, friends, a familial relationship or something else. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way and tackle others as you go. Start in tiny baby steps.
• Live in the present and not the past. Don’t let your thoughts go into the past more than necessary. Sometimes our past can hinder our future and often starts negative thoughts in our minds. So what if 2012 was a rough year? This is your time to focus on the present instead of the past or even the future. Stay in the here and now; the past is over.
• Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Recent studies have shown that regular cardiovascular exercise alleviates stress and may be useful in maintaining good health. If incorporated, you’ll be doing something positive to help your mind, body and health image. Doctors suggest 30 minutes of daily cardio exercise, such as jogging, aerobics or cycling (of course, consult your personal physician to determine what level of activity is best for you).
• Surround yourself with positive individuals. Make sure people in your life are supportive and give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability
• Practice positive self-talk. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. For example, instead of thinking, “I am a failure at everything,” practice saying, “I am not always successful, but I have a lot to bring to the table, including traits X, Y and Z.”
Now, are you ready for a truly happy, more positive New Year? Remember, you have the power of choice, and you can turn 2013 and years to come into positive, productive experiences. We have more control over our happiness than we might imagine.
Research suggests that 50 percent of our happiness is biological, that means 50 percent can be changed by our behaviors and thoughts.
My message for 2013 is that happiness is attainable and within the reach of everyone. By trying to turn negative thoughts into more positive ones, you will feel more content and might even uncover a few hidden opportunities you might have previously not seen before.
You may even discover a “new you” for 2013.
“The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale (Ishi Press, 2011, $25.95)
“The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking,” by Oliver Burkeman (Faber and Faber, 2012, $25)
“The Daily Book of Positive Quotations,” by Linda Picone (Fairview Press, 2007, $13.95)