Flipping the bird. A Different Take on New Year’s Resolutions.

shoot the bird

Are you tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions yet?

As cliché as it sounds, I love New Year’s resolutions.  It’s quite liberating to step back and assess which of my thought patterns and habits need to be tweaked or ‘given the finger.’  Kind of like cleaning out the fridge after the holidays.

Especially right after I take down all of my Christmas decorations and re-box them in the basement.  This cleansing ritual helps me settle my thoughts and reach inward to my control panel to adjust whatever habits need some fine-tuning and determine which thinking patterns need to be given ‘the bird.’ (My son has never heard of these ‘bird’ references related to the middle finger gesture.  I know this because he was the co-director in my middle finger photo shoot. My e-book on parenting will be out soon.)

So, let’s get on with it. To which thought patterns and habits shall I flip the bird to this coming year?

In 2013, I am going to give the one finger salute to the following:

1.My inner gremlins.  (Translation:  I will throw negative self talk out the window at every possible turn.) This is particularly important as the new year begins, because this whole resolution thing can often turn into a time when we beat ourselves up about what we didn’t accomplish last year.  I’ve been a lot better about this, which I’m proud of, but I am a work in progress.  My inner gremlins still mess with me.

The trick to taming these gremlins (who like to sabotage us with negative self talk and excuses) is to become aware of them. And notice when they typically start yammering. As a great book for all ages, (Taming Your Gremlin), explains, gremlins hate to be noticed. It throws them off guard and weakens them.  This year I will recognize my gremlins and push them in the corner. (This is when I picture giving the gremlins the one finger salute as I walk away while tuning my self- talk to a more positive station.)

2. The barrage of marketing attempts raging around me at all times.  I will no  longer waste time thinking about buying things that marketers are quite good at making me think that I need. Or waste time thinking about how to redesign my perfectly functional kitchen or closets.  I will focus on what matters.  I will NOT get sucked in by direct mail catalogs, marketing emails, and ridiculous coupons (DAMN THOSE MACY’S SAVING PASS CARDS) that distract me from the more important things in life.  

For goodness sake, I have a marketing background, and I still get sucked in.  This year I will be more cognizant of how I spend my time. Maybe I will set-up an email rule to sort all of my advertising emails (many of them that I signed up for in order to receive discounts that just sucker me in) into a folder that I can open only if a need actually arises?  What a concept.

3. Small stuff that doesn’t matter.  I’m going to think less about what bothers me and instead strive to love more.   I’m going to make time to encourage others, to lift them up, to help others, and to make sure they know how much I care about them.  I will forget about the small, stupid stuff that irritates me. I won’t hold others to my standards, or expect them to behave as I would.  I will turn that little mirror inward  immediately when I start to complain or get irritated.

4. Worry. This year I will worry less and live in the moment more. I will worry less about what people think, about what kind of shape I’m in, about what I wished I had done before today, about my Mom, about whether I’m doing enough, about being far away from so much family, about my kids growing up too fast, about what could, might or will happen. I will live in the moment and do the best that I can as often as I can, and know that it’s enough.

5. The excuses that stunt my personal growth.  I will set aside routine time and plan deadlines for myself this year for writing, meditation, fine-tuning my body and taking better care of myself, learning new skills and taking time to do some things that fire-up my internal engines like painting or volunteering or riding horses.  As a result, I will grow more as a person this year.

6. Going through the motions.  Instead, I will be more awake this year.  I will ‘show-up’ for life.  I will not focus on what’s expected, but rather what feels right.  I will notice and listen and observe.  I won’t play it as safe.

I realize there will be hurdles along the way and that flipping-off all of these negative patterns 100% of the time will not be easy.  (I also realize that I shouldn’t start flipping anyone or anything off in public.) But I’m going to do my damnedest to make some changes and fully engage in this mental tune-up.

It’s going to be a fun year.  Thanks, as always, for being on this journey with me.

Any old thought patterns you’d like to ‘shoot the bird’ to this year?

Gratitude – the Linchpin to our Reality? Gratitude Experiment Day 18

I can honestly say that after doing this gratitude experiment for 18 days straight, my attitude is definitely different than before I started. I thought about this in the shower today.  (Actually that’s where most of my blog entry ideas start.)  I’m by no means some kind of transformed person all of a sudden.  But I can tell you that being grateful is enabling me to more effortlessly start with a positive reaction to things instead of jumping to a negative.  As a result, my clients have been easier to deal with, my family and life in general.

Don’t worry, a) I’m not going to give you any more detail about my personal hygiene and b) I’m not going to get all metaphysical on you.  However,  I’m going to go out on a limb here and give you some background as to how this works – how gratitude can affect you and the universe around you, through the law of attraction. Feel free to log out now if the new-ageness of this all sounds too ‘out there.’  But I challenge you to bear with me.

This concept really isn’t new at all.  And trust me, Oprah and The Secret did not discover this idea.  The law of attraction dates back to the early 1900s and has been studied by hundreds of scientists since.  Many books have been written about it and it is at the core of many other self-help concepts though often disguised by different buzzwords.

It boils down to this:  the belief that “like attracts like” and by focusing on positive thoughts (such as gratitude), you attract positive in your life.  Transversely, if you focus on negative thoughts (what you don’t have, what you want to change, what bugs you), you attract negative.  There is much more to it, but that’s it in a nutshell.  You can look at this (as many do) and say that it is easily explained by the theory that positive thinking makes you more motivated, more aware and thus more open to opportunities that present themselves.  Either way you look at it, positive results are still the outcome, so why fight it.

The concept is based on the belief that you are the creator of your reality.  As such, you are also the creator of what you think your limitations are (even though most of the time these are driven by outside influences, and often from parents who didn’t realize they were doing it).

For example, my mom used to joke that I was not good at math (not as mean as it sounds; thank goodness I rocked at Language Arts – or English as it was called before the world of political correctness). I remember this all the way back to fourth grade and it stuck with me.  And guess what I joke about all the time with people when I get stumped without a calculator?  I usually say “Sorry, I’m a Journalism major, we don’t do math.”  That always gets a chuckle, but what if I hadn’t been somewhat programmed to believe that?  I probably would not be a mathematician, that’s for sure.  But I bet I would have put more effort toward learning math related concepts for the many school years that followed.

As another example, let’s say I’m in a grumpy mood and focusing on something that really annoys me as I am opening an email from a client.  Do you think there might be a chance that my mindset could more easily allow me read into the short wording of our back and forth emails on a project and take them the wrong way?  You bet.  But if I am in a positive place (which is automatic if you are staying aware of your thoughts and focusing on gratitude), positive results will most likely ensue.

The absolute best documented and most famous example of the law of attraction is the placebo effect, commonly used in medication trials. Even in expertly designed double-blinded studies, more positive results are almost always documented from patients who expect something positive to happen compared to the ones who didn’t.

Oh, and have you ever heard someone say that they have the worst luck ever?  I cringe when I hear it even though I used to say it.  Sometimes you’ll hear someone list all the bad things that have happened to them related to their car or their work, etc.  And it really does seem like one thing after another happens to them on the same day or in the same month.  That is the perfect example of focusing on the negative and producing more negative results.  Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Trust me, I’ve done it.

So how does gratitude fit into all of this?  Simply put, being thankful for what you have gets you to the place of willingness to let new things come into your life (instead of Jedi-mind tricking yourself out of things with negative thoughts). Thus, gratitude helps you feel positive so you can attract more positive. (Translation: If you have a fender bender, you focus on not being hurt or worse, rather than the damage to your car or the stupidity or lack of insurance of the other driver.)

There is much more to it (visualization, asking the Universe for what you want vs what you don’t want, etc.).  Motivational speakers like Wayne Dyer swear by it (and have made millions discussing it).   One of my favorite books of all time is The Power of Intention which helped shift my thinking several years ago at a time when I really needed a shift in mindset.  (I contributed to Wayne’s millions and have bought this book for many people.  Tip:  all of his other books are just a different spin on this same concept).

So however you want to look at it, it’s certainly worth thinking about.  It works.

So, as cheesy and sentimental as it sounds, today I am grateful for gratitude, an open mind and the world of positive outcomes that are possible.