In any given December you can hear people talk about the bad habits they’re going to quit as part of their New Year’s Resolutions. My biggest challenge with such statements is that the person is waiting for a specific day, as if they need the calendar’s permission for when to start. How about starting RIGHT NOW? Another challenge I have is that some of the changes require changing their lifestyle, not just breaking one habit. My favorite is, “I’m going to quit smoking cigarettes.” That’s awesome; it truly is. It will surely help you live a longer and healthier life. But what about the excessive alcohol, sodas and fatty foods you eat? How about the fact that you never exercise? How about the fact that you have to take pills to sleep, a gallon of coffee to wake up and something to help you void your body of the junk you’re going to have for lunch? I’d far rather see (or hear) anyone resolve to live a healthier lifestyle and if that includes quitting smoking cigarettes, then awesome!
But this train of thought made me consider internal things we can change to help improve our own lives. Those who know me know that I’m a bear about outlook and optimism. I do my best to seek the positive outcome, some benefit to be gained, some lesson to be learned even in the worst of times. I had to start thinking about resolutions, habits, etc. that were internal and could have a big impact on my life moving forward. Here is the short list of things I felt I could change – or give up – in any given year. But, as I stated in the opening paragraph, I certainly wouldn’t wait until January 1 to start in on this goal. The sooner I can accomplish these things, the sooner more positive energy will flow into my life – and yours.
- I decided I’m going to stop trying to please everyone. If there’s a lesson life will repeatedly teach you it’s that you can’t make everyone happy. (Pissing everyone off seems pretty easy at times though.) While I am a big believer in doing what we can to bring joy into the lives of others, constantly trying to make everyone happy will eventually result in nothing but continual stress for you. Face it, there are people in the world who aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about. Nothing will ever be good enough for them and you can’t change that. Trying to make them happy will bring you nothing but grief. Stop trying to please everyone. Be yourself, be a good person and watch the happy people come appreciate what you do.
- I decided I’m going to stop fearing change – or having any other negative reaction to it. The only constant in life is change. Nothing ever stays the same. Knowing that, why would we fear change? A wise man (not I) once said that fear is a consequence of your imagination. We fear things that might happen or that might evolve into reality. We fear what we imagine might be coming. Recognizing that, I decided to stop letting my own imagination feed my fears and that fear of change. Change is what lets life evolve and brings us as many blessings as challenges.
- I decided I’m going to stop living in the past. Just as our fears are imaginary, the stress we carry about the past is nothing but memory. How many times have you heard, “The past is the past; you can’t change it so stop worrying about it.” That is a very valid outlook and one I encourage everyone (including the guy in the mirror) to embrace. Learn from your past. Don’t repeat past mistakes. Other than that? Quit living in the past. Enjoy fond memories but don’t dwell on any negatives.
- I decided to stop overthinking. For me, perhaps more than most, this will be a challenge. I tend to overthink and over-analyze darned near everything. I love to “read between the lines” and interpret behavior over statements all the time. One of the best things I believe I could do to make my days happier is to just take things at face value rather than trying to seek some insight below the surface.
- I decided to stop being afraid of being different. All my life I’ve been different, but haven’t we all? Isn’t the uniqueness of each individual one of the things that makes life so enjoyable? I wish this was a reality I could have accepted when I was in junior high school and through my high school years. It’s an outlook that haunts people in the early days of their careers – the need to be like those around us; the need to be like those we perceive as successful. It isn’t usually until we’re older that we realize the strength of being who we are; being unique; being ourselves. I’ve decided to embrace being me.
- I decided to stop sacrificing my own happiness for others. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve spent my entire adult life in a career that is all about sacrificing for others – police work. But there’s a difference between sacrificing what you want to serve a purpose and constantly sacrificing your happiness as you try to please other people. I encourage self-sacrifice for a specific purpose but I do not encourage the general sacrificing of your own happiness in an attempt to make others happy. Those who care about you; those who are of value in your life want you to be happy. They don’t want you to change or sacrifice just for their happiness. So those people who DO want you to sacrifice to make them happy? They aren’t worth making happy.
- I decided to stop thinking I’m not good enough. I realized I had to ask myself: not good enough for what? Or for who? I am who I am and have come to terms with all of my own strengths and weaknesses a long time ago. Yes, we all have some insecurities and we all wonder if we can live up to expectations in given situations, but the bottom line is this: You are who you are and as long as you’re happy with the person and the soul you see in the mirror, then you are good enough. Never stop striving to be better, but don’t ever do it for someone else’s approval.
- I decided to stop thinking I have no purpose. One of man’s oldest questions is, “Why are we here?” The purpose of life is to live it. It is a great blessing if you can add to the quality of life of others along the way and enjoy your life more each day, but the bottom line is that only you know what you are driven to; what brings meaning to your life each day; what brings your soul peace and helps you feel accomplished. That’s how you define your purpose and as long as you’re not hurting others along the way, that purpose is all you need. Identify it and embrace it. Everyone has a purpose – you just never know when you’ll discover it.
These are the eight changes I’m making immediately and trying to remember each day. Where an increase in quality of life, peace in my soul and happiness in my heart is concerned, these are the things that will have the greatest impact. Embrace them as you see fit.