Interestingly, only a few of my family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances made any New Year’s Resolutions this year. When I asked those who didn’t, “Why not?”, they almost all replied with, “Most people break them within the first week, so why bother?”
If you want to change something in your life, this post is all about why you should bother.
Change is meant to be gradual
I’m not sure what the weather’s been like in other parts of the world but it’s been beautiful here in Toronto, Canada. In fact, it’s too gorgeous!
Yesterday was 14ºC (57ºF) when only 5 days ago we were experiencing -17°C (1.4 ºF and with the wind-chill it felt like -30ºC or -22 ºF !). Everyone I’ve spoken with has been feeling “off”. Some people reported trouble sleeping, others complained of headaches, some mentioned being moody, and others couldn’t pin point the disturbance.
The human body is an amazing piece of biological machinery and can adapt itself to almost any environment. But it seems as if adaptation is easier to cope with when it’s experienced in incremental changes.
Most everyone tackles their resolutions with gusto – I love the enthusiasm – but these huge flips in behaviour are just too much for our systems. We experience negative effects (whether it be soreness after workouts or irritability from stopping ourselves from smoking) and after a few days or even months, these negative associations build up until we reach our breaking point. Then we give up.
Any easy, unthinking behaviour becomes natural to us through habit
As living beings, we are programmed to move towards food, activities, substances, objects, people, etc. that produce positive feelings within us. We keep doing the things that make us feel good and they become habit.
Unfortunately, some of these positive things become harmful to us when overused. It’s because we create an imbalance in our biological system. As we grow older, this imbalance (caused by our over-indulgences) accumulate over the years to the point where they manifest into health issues.
What used to work for us when we were younger fails to work optimally for us when we are older. We’ve learned that our carefree behaviour produces positive feelings and so we continue to habitually perform them. Once these habits are in place, the behaviour becomes unconscious and difficult to change, even though we’ve noticed they’ve become harmful. The initial change is hard because of our beliefs.
Dr. David Hawkins, in Power vs. Force , explains better here:
“Such radical change, however, can be disorienting; the courage to endure the temporary discomfort of growth is required, and the mind tends to resist change as a matter of pride. Recovery from any disease process is dependent on willingness to explore new ways of looking at one’s self and life, which includes the capacity to endure inner fears when belief systems are shaken.”
Any SMALL change has HUGE effects
Just as it took our youthful behaviour years to show any visible effects, our adult (self-controlled) behaviour also takes time to reveal itself. Dr. Hawkins uses an excellent metaphor about behaviour is his book: if a ship bearing any direction veers off course by only a few degrees, over time and distance, it will find itself miles away from its original destination .
This is great news! This means that even if we only change one unhealthy behaviour to one that is healthy, it will have a HUGE, positive effect on us in later years.
So go ahead, make those resolutions and break ‘em…and then keep on trying. Determination and persistence is key. Don’t be afraid to fail because through failure we learn better ways of accomplishing our goals.
It’s all about taking it easy, being good to ourselves, and moving forward bit by bit. And keep in mind: every little change for the better eventually makes big differences in our lives.