One Simple Secret to Help You Live a Better Life
But that's another subject. In the meantime, you and I and most people I know are feeling energized about a new year and those all-important resolutions to do better and be better.
Here's the bad news.
Studies show that we fail at those resolutions. Discouragingly, most of us don't make it past the end of January before breaking all of our glittering promises. In fact, the fitness app Strava, which has analyzed millions of uploaded exercise activities, has dubbed the second Friday in January as "Quitter's Day."
Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink,
and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary
community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation
to the winds.... We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how
we did the same old thing last year about this time.
Mark Twain, in a letter, 1 January 1863
It's not because we lack the desire. We really do want the change we anticipate. What we don't do such a good job of imagining is how long that change might take, how hard it will be, how many temptations we'll face, and how tired and discouraged we'll feel when we mess up again.
And then we drift away from our resolution, no matter how much we wish otherwise. We may say, "I tried, it didn't work, and that's that." The end.
Don't lose hope.
I don't know any way around these ebbs and flows, ups and downs of desire and motivation. But I know one secret that makes it possible to hope for a better life.
The secret may surprise you.
When you notice your habits are slipping, or you aren't feeling your best, come back to your resolutions.
Don't spend even one moment chastising yourself for failure or inconsistency, simply come back. Come back as often as it takes.
If you're wondering how I know about this simple secret, it's because I practice it all the time. This is one of those times. I'm simply coming back to what I know is best for me, even though I don't always do it.
Because I've come back so often, I'm getting better at doing it without blame, guilt, apology, or even explanation. If you follow my example, you may start to notice more quickly when your habits are becoming less than optimal and make a course correction more efficiently. You can bypass hours or days of self-recrimination and get right back to your best practices. Negative self-talk and self-doubt only holds you up, so you can say "no thank you" to all of that.
What do you want to come back to?
- less or no sugar (me too)
- earlier bedtimes for easier mornings
- less or no alcohol
- more fruits and veggies
- less complaining
- more exercise
- a no-shopping challenge
- more prayer or meditation
- less time online
or something else.
Don't say, "I tried, it didn't work, and that's that." Come back today.