How Understanding This One Thing Will Help You Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions
Work In Progress...
Two of the most intrinsic qualities of being human are that we are creatures of habit, and we are irrational. These two characteristics come together in a perfect storm of paralysis around this time of year, because although we want to make positive changes to our life, we have spent the previous 12 months training our brain not to those tricky things (give up smoking / exercise more / stop hoarding back copies of Grazia). Every time we think “must go for a run!” followed by “ugh it’s cold outside” and then “I can’t be bothered” we are reinforcing the neural pathways that associate healthy behaviours with negative emotions.
But the ancient practice of mindfulness teaches us that it is possible to separate emotions from activities, and, as the sporty old slogan goes, JUST DO IT.
Each time we feel the “ugh” and do it anyway, we are weakening the amygdala response that gets all stressed and depressed at the mere thought of lacing up our running shoes. Training the brain to be truly mindful takes time, of course, but it’s surprisingly easy to flip a switch and stop expecting to enjoy everything, if you really believe that adjusting your expectations will help break bad habits. And it will! If you plod through those after-work gym sessions even though you don’t feel like it – just because it’s what you’ve decided to do to stay healthy – then week on week it will become much easier to do. And then, irrational being that you are, you might start enjoying it after all!