Kick Off the New Year by Celebrating – Not Shaming
Our column in the January Issue of Saddle River Magazine:
Want to make 2017 your happiest year ever? Think positive – it’s contagious!
We have created a culture where the holiday season is all about celebrating – and the start of the New Year is all about punishing ourselves for it. Anything goes in November and December, and we are left to pick up the pieces in January.
We make big resolutions like swearing off sugar or carbs, waking up at 4 a.m. each day to work out, starting five new projects at work, or vowing to never yell at the kids again. Resolutions like this are not just unrealistic – they set us up for disappointment. As a result, January becomes one big drag.
But trust us – it doesn’t have to be that way! We can start right now to change the way we approach the post-holiday season, and be much happier as a result. Here are four tips for kicking off the New Year on a positive note:
1. Avoid body shaming pitfalls. Chances are you will hear someone you know saying something like, “I have to live in the gym now to make up for all the damage I did over the holidays.” Or “I feel disgusting, I must have gained 10 pounds in the last month.”
TIP: Misery loves company, so they’ll be waiting for you to chime in. DON’T. The best way to stop the spread of body shaming and negativity is to not engage – and change the subject to something else!
- Compliment qualities, not looks. What’s the first thing you say to a friend when you see them? “You look fantastic – did you lose weight?” “I love your outfit!” “Did you just get your hair done? It looks great this way!” While you may think you are paying your friend a compliment, focusing on something as temporary as physical appearance can have the opposite affect. Your friend may wonder whether you liked her hair before, or what will happen if she gains the weight back.
TIP: Next time you get together with a friend, focus on sharing with him or her the qualities you appreciate most. Are they kind? Hilarious? Brilliant? Loyal? Highlighting the qualities that are a constant will help to instill confidence, rather than causing them anxiety and insecurity.
3. Delete the toxic word “should” from your vocabulary. We dwell way too much on analyzing stuff that has happened in the past – and there is not a darn thing that can be done about it. So why not let it go and trust that your life is unfolding as it’s meant to? Something you think you “should” have done could have had a less-than-positive outcome, while something you “shouldn’t” have done could have turned into something amazing!
TIP: Track how many times you think or say “should have” throughout the day. Slip a bunch of rubber bands around your left wrist. Every time you find yourself lamenting about something you should have done, move one of the rubber bands over to the right wrist. Count how many rubber bands you’ve moved by the time you go to bed – then try to decrease the number by one each day.
4. Practice radical acceptance. We love to put ourselves into neat categories. We are either a “healthy or unhealthy eater”, a “good or bad parent”, “organized or a total disaster.” We then feel the pressure to live up to these labels and feel ashamed when we do something that doesn’t fit.
TIP: Embrace all parts of yourself! Know that you can be a healthy eater AND love Oreos. You can be a good parent AND yell ‘til your throat hurts. You can be a yogi AND get stressed. You can be organized AND get the time of your kid’s basketball game wrong.
Experiment with these tips and you’ll be amazed at how easily they will become routine. Just as negative behaviors are contagious, so are positive ones