A New Year, A New Outlook

December 21, 2012

Another year is about to end, giving us good reason to reflect on the events of the past twelve months and the accomplishments we have achieved in that time. The end of 2012 also marks the usual time for planning and goal-setting—the beginning of a brand new year and what it might behold for us. Because of our busy lives, obligations and responsibilities often drive our decisions. We try to do it all, be it all, and finish it all, without much regard for how this constant motion is affecting us. This year, instead of making a list of resolutions or promising to change something about yourself or something about your life, how about a new approach? How about having one focus instead of a long list, one that will you help you be more peaceful and more content? In this brand new year, your support team at Salus Lifestyles encourages you to adopt only one outlook this year: how do you want to feel?

The concept that our outlook impacts our health isn’t new – our culture is pretty familiar with the idea that stress, anxiety, and negativity can have an adverse effect on our health while optimism, stress relief, and a calm demeanor can have a positive effect on our health. While wanting to improve on something in our lives is an important trait and can teach us significant lessons about who we are, the tradition of choosing resolutions sends us the message that there is something wrong and that something needs to be fixed. The way to lasting change and self-improvement is not to point what’s wrong and vow to turn it around, but to think about how these traits or habits make us feel. Moving our attention to our emotions rather than what we do “wrong” is a better motivator and will promote more lasting change.

To shift your way of thinking, choose a resolution or goal you had in mind for the new year. For example, it might be to exercise more, eat less, or call your mother more often. Don’t worry about mapping out how or when you’re going to do those things or what reward you will give yourself for accomplishing them. Think about how you currently feel about those habits or goals and how you want to feel. If your resolution is to exercise more, are you currently feeling guilty that you haven’t made your health as much of a priority as you should? Are you feeling isolated because you don’t have anyone to exercise with? Are you feeling lethargic? You could be feeling a number of other emotions as well. Identify which emotions surround this habit or goal as it is now and record them somewhere where you can look at them often.

Once you have identified your current emotions, think about how you want to feel. Do you want to feel proud that you are being healthy and productive with your body through exercise? Do you want to feel connected with someone by having them as an exercise companion? Do you want to feel vibrant and energetic? Whatever you want to feel, record that as well.

Take some time to reflect on the ideas you have recorded. As you look at both sets of emotions, think about how what you do or say or think can move you toward how you want to feel. Review scenarios in your head and mentally choose what brings you closer to your emotional goal. When real decisions present themselves, it will be easier to make the ones that will move you closer to that emotion because you have reflected and practiced making that decision. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself; you do not need to be fixed.

As the new year approaches, turn the attention to your emotions and create a positive outlook when you can. Don’t worry about what you should be or what you should do. Walk through the world with mindfulness and awareness of others but pay more attention this year to your emotional wellbeing. Whatever your goals may be, make choices that help you feel good, not that make you look good or look good to others. By seeking emotional wellness, healthy habits and peacefulness are sure to follow.

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