Would you rather lose 10 pounds that will probably be back by springtime, or would you rather gain a new perspective that will last for a lifetime?
This may sound like an unfair question, but it speaks to the difference between the permanent, life-changing process of learning to accept yourself, as opposed to achieving one or two superficial goals around the beginning of the new year.
Can you imagine a friendship or a romantic relationship in which one party says to the other:
“You know Sally (or Barry). Your teeth need to be whiter. I think I could like you or even love you IF you get your teeth whitened by next Tuesday. ”
The answer is not very likely because you know that by the next time these two come together, another request would emerge.
“You know, I’m happy with your teeth now. But you are definitely carrying a few extra pounds and your laugh is kind of weird. I know these are harder to deal with so I will (generously) give you a whole month to change. Then, I might really like you or even love you”.
Could you imagine yourself saying this to your friends and loved ones?
Of course not, but that is exactly how we treat ourselves. We decide that we can only be happy and love ourselves if we make changes to our body or finances (or whatever) and we make resolutions to do so.
Making New Year’s Resolutions like this is not only potentially problematic with our psychological health; it also has very little chance of success.
Although 40 to 50 % of the population makes New Year’s resolutions, only 8% ever achieve their goals. These successes were probably short attainable goals rather than lofty long term goals. Experts like psychologist Lynn Bufka recommend setting manageable goals, so we have a better chance of succeeding.
It’s totally OK to improve yourself. It’s wonderful to create better habits and buff up and be healthier, but it is so much easier and holistic if you start with an acceptance of yourself.
How Do We Do That?
1. Find the Good Within Ourselves and Be Thankful For It
This includes parts of our personality and activities which we can think about and can make a list of. For example, “I care about the environment. I’m a good cook. I can run like the wind.”
Yes, write it down, make a list and be thankful for it. Research has shown that gratitude is linked to better relationships and healthier habits.
2. Be Realistic About Our Limitations
Recognize that everyone is totally unique and has a different function in life. Everyone, including you, is doing their best given the circumstances. I like this short affirmation by Farnoosh Brock: “I accept myself. I love myself. I forgive myself for what I didn’t know until I learned it.”
3. Be As Compassionate and Forgiving to Yourself As You Would Be to Others.
If your friend was feeling bad about not getting top marks on an exam, would you berate them for it? That’s exactly what we do to ourselves. Be a good friend to yourself every time self-judgment or criticism come up in our mind. Give your friend (you) the benefit of the doubt.
4. Watch for the Inner Positive Feelings
We have many positive thoughts and feelings and experiences during the day but we tend to remember the problems since they have to be dealt with and […]
Be still or be ill. Meditation and yoga can help you experience a deep state of relaxation and better health.
A meditation a day can keep the doctor away.
Research was carried out at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine where 4,400 patients were trained to practice deep relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation by their healthcare providers. A control group of 13,000 patients were studied who were not practicing relaxation techniques. Researchers found after a year, those practicing relaxation had their visits to the doctor dropped by 42 percent, lab tests by 44 percent and procedures by 21 percent. Health service use by the second group remained the same. Also, emergency hospital visits dropped to about 1.7 a year from 3.7 in the year before practicing relaxation techniques.
Patients who experienced the most beneficial reductions were those with cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neurologic and gastrointestinal issues.
“Evidence over the last few decades has linked practices like meditation and yoga to beneficial physiological changes in the body ranging from better cardiac function to reduced inflammation,” said Dr. James Stah, Director of the Institute for Technology Assessment at Massachusetts General.
Meditation OR Yoga?
Although meditation and yoga might seem quite different approaches, they both achieve one similar and important goal; they relax both the body and mind at the same time. Since the mind and body are intimately connected, when you relax the mind, the body follows. When you relax the body, the mind follows.
Most yoga traditions also contain within them, some time for meditation.
Meditation, Found to Be Helpful For Better Health in Many Studies
- Decreased blood pressure in people who practiced meditation found in study cited by Science Direct.
- May reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, may help people with insomnia, lower severity of acute respiratory illnesses according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
- In one study, the cost of medical care after 5 years went down by 28 percent.
Note: There are many different kinds of meditations available, each with a different goal and they thus will direct your mind to focus and ‘let go’ in different ways. Shop around to find one that suits your personality and lifestyle.
If you would like to start meditating, here is a place to start:
Free Guided Meditations at UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
Yoga, a Mind and Body Practice, Can Be Helpful For Better Health
- Can reduce low-back pain and improve function.
- May lower depression, stress and insomnia.
- Lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Improve overall physical fitness, strength and flexibility.
To learn more about the benefits of yoga, watch this video: Scientific Results of Yoga for Health and Well-Being Video
Please Note: We all have different bodies with different needs and abilities. Carefully consider the type of yoga for you and select an instructor who is experienced and attentive to help you in practicing yoga that will work best for you. If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care provider before starting yoga. Be especially careful about doing hot yoga as people with heart disease, lung disease or a history of heatstroke may want to avoid this form of yoga. Pregnant women please check with your health care provider before starting hot yoga.
Is It Cost Effective?
When there are less health problems, the cost of drugs, surgery, ambulances and a hospital stay will be less. A limitation of this study is that it did not take into account the cost of the relaxation training. In my opinion, it would be better […]
I Am Seeing More
I am seeing more and more
As each and every day passes
And learning to be present
In each and every moment.
As I quietly listen, I am guided
Slowly to take the next step.
The truth of existence expands.
It is leading me to understand
Why I am here, why we are here.
The truth is that love is our guide
For nourishment and prosperity.
Without it there is no joy.
In fact there is a deep void.
I am loving you whoever you are
And ALL that exists always.
Cc Diana Herrington – September 2, 2015