2016 is shaping up to be the best year ever. Yes? Or does it look like crap? I mean, geez. ISIS hasn’t gone away. The Americans haven’t figured out gun control yet, although I’m encouraged by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $50 million donation challenging the NRA on gun safety. This happened back in 2014, but I just read about it recently. Everytown for Gun Safety, his group is called. Says CNN, “It aims to make the political climate more supportive of gun control.” And speaking of climate, we haven’t yet found a solution to global warming. Says www.climatehotmap.org, “There is no single solution to global warming, which is primarily a problem of too much heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere.”
No single solution but, according to Scientific American, there are many “slight edge” actions we can take every single day toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some examples: move closer to work, unplug electronics when not in use, consume less, be efficient, only have one child, eat smart and maybe go vegetarian (to the delight of my daughter Randelle).
Gigantic challenges are, well, challenging, due to their humongous nature. But broken down into wee bits, as Jeff Olson discusses in The Slight Edge, there are decisions – both “easy to do” and “easy not to do” – that we are faced with every single day that make a difference, not only in the success of our personal lives, but rippling out (like a stone thrown into a pond) to the world at large.
It’s always a choice. Crap. Or crème de la crème. Which would you rather?
Let’s start with ourselves, because it’s been proven. While you may have wanted Aunt Mary to drink less at Christmas dinner, she drank the bar dry again, passed out on the couch, then interrupted dessert with, “Whoop-whoop!” “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” You’ve probably heard that quote before – it’s been attributed to many authors – but taking responsibility for everything that’s ever happened to us in our lives is a super-empowering place to start a transformation.
How, and why, take responsibility for “everything that’s ever happened”?! I mean, if you look at my life, it’s not my fault that my late husband Hugh died. Take responsibility for that? But what happens if I don’t? I play the blame-game. The rest of my life is crap because my husband died. Poor me. I’m a victim. Yikes.
Says Olson in The Slight Edge, “The predominant state of mind displayed by those people on the failure curve is blame. The predominant state of mind displayed by those people on the success curve is responsibility.”
Ah, but what is responsibility anyway? Your ability to respond. Respond well – baby steps if necessary – and everything will be okay.
So, to help you baby step onto Olson’s success curve, here are 10 items – a New Year, a New List – all “slight edge” (“easy to do”, “easy not to do”, you decide) in nature. The first five we’ve talked about before, each to be done DAILY, from Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage. It’s a good time to review them. Add Olson and Achor together and you get: slight edge + happy habits = success.
- WRITE DOWN THREE THINGS YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR. Trains the brain to look for the positive.
- JOURNAL JUST TWO MINUTES ABOUT A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE IN THE PAST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS. Recall as many details as possible. Reliving a positive experience doubles its impact.
- I know. This is hard to find time for. I’m in the habit of meditating with www.headspace.com, but I still get busy and miss days. For just two minutes, though. Focus on breath. Says Achor, “This trains your brain to focus where you want it to, and not get distracted by negativity in your environment.”
- PRACTICE A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS ANYWHERE (RAKA). Doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Send an email praising someone, or thanking them. Over the holidays, mine has just been wishing a FB friend, “Happy Holidays!” or “Happy Birthday!” Pay for coffee for the person behind you. Drop a coin into a homeless person’s cup. When I’m downtown, I pay for maximum parking (I detest parking tickets) then give my stub to someone coming into the lot. They usually light up when they understand why I’m harassing them.
- EXERCISE FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES. Simple cardio, like a fast walk. It’s just fifteen minutes. That’s all.
Okay, now let’s do the math on these five positive habits, allowing 5 minutes for gratitude, and 5 for a RAKA. Twenty-nine minutes. Surely you can find 29 minutes in a day to make your life happier (happiness experts will tell you it’s a choice and that happiness leads to success, not the other way around) while sending out positive vibes to those around you?
2016 New Year List Continued, best done DAILY as well:
- LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRAVINGS AND HUNGER. Oh wow. I know you have probably considered this before, but not me. Breakthrough. Says Sheri Held in Indianapolis Monthly, “A craving is head hunger, not stomach hunger. It’s immediate and focused on a specific food and lasts only about three to five minutes. Stomach hunger, on the other hand, increases slowly and is satisfied by a wide range of foods.” “Three to five minutes,”! I can get through three to five minutes! Suggestions – drink a glass of water, go for a walk, text a friend, read, change your location so the chocolate is out of reach.
- EAT YOUR VEGGIES. They should cover half of your plate. Trina Rose, a wellness coordinator says, “Focus on the red, orange, yellow, green and violet colors. We always encourage people to try for three different color groups per day.”
- EAT YOUR BREKKIE. You lose protein while sleeping, so if you skip breakfast you continue to lose, making catch-up hard. Says Kristen Frederiksen, a weight-loss specialist, “Protein is also vital for burning fat.”
- KNOW AND EMPLOY THE FIVE P’S OF SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT MANAGEMENT. Frederiksen says, “That’s patience, persistence, planning, positive thoughts, and perspiration.” Perspiration. Hmmm.
- EAT YOUR INSPIRATION. (It’s low on calories. Ha.) Author Jeff Olson suggests reading 10 pages of self-help book daily and he offers a great reading list at the back of The Slight Edge. Dai Manuel, author of the Whole Life Fitness Manifesto suggests watching a Ted Talk. There are great Podcasts out there as well. In this technological age, sources of inspiration are just a touch-screen away. No need to reinvent the wheel. Whatever personal, financial and career goals tug at you, no doubt someone has been there, done that and has words of wisdom to ease your life journey.