Archive for January, 2014

Fixing life

January 13, 2014
Change what can be changed.

Change what can be changed.

Life’s full of things we can’t fix.

Things happen, to us and others, that aren’t fair, aren’t of our making and sometimes happen for no apparent reason.

Sometimes mistakes we make have unexpected consequences; they can change lives forever and we would give anything to take them back. Often, small examples of our own limitations drive us insane. We know the consequences but we do them anyway.

Worrying about things we can’t change can be like being eaten from the inside out. A broken romance, a job loss, dealing with aging parents, our own mortality –circumstances that we can’t change and that weigh us down.

We can’t just, in delusional positivity, pretend they don’t exist. But we can look at things optimistically, with reality and clarity, and assess likely outcomes. If it’s a small mistake that caused embarrassment or hurt feelings perhaps time will take care of it.

If it’s a significant matter, such as a serious illness or marriage breakdown, we can learn to cope with the reality as best we can and not absorb ourselves in ‘what ifs’.

The optimist chooses to believe they can make all things better, sometimes in the face of reason itself.

The pessimist chooses to see the worst in every situation, so they won’t be hurt by disappointment, living by the maxim of the worst-case scenario, absorbed by self-pity.

Life is what we make it. Perhaps this works best when we accept reality but look optimistically towards what our future can hold.

Whichever way we choose to look at life, there’s a fundamental truth: life is full of things we can’t fix. But every day we’re faced with many things that we can.

Those are the things we should focus on.

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Forget New Year’s resolutions

January 8, 2014
Are your new year plans clear?

Are your new year plans clear?

If you’re like many people, then your New Year’s resolutions won’t last the week.

Do you really want to change?

Change is the only real constant in our lives. Yet most of us resist it, or at least actively avoid it. So, it seems reasonable, and possibly inevitable, that our New Year’s resolutions are plans soon forgotten.

Genuine change requires commitment.

New Year’s resolutions often involve losing weight, exercising more, drinking and smoking less or perhaps finding a better job or working less. We begin the New Year with motivation and desire but as the weeks go by it’s easy to return to our earlier behaviour patterns, settle into old habits and let go of our resolutions until the following year.

It turns into one big cliché. Perpetuated by the ‘New Year, New You’ propaganda pedalled by the weight loss companies, fix-it-fast exercise equipment salespeople and magazines promising the next ‘miracle diet’.

It’s mostly wishful thinking. That’s because behaviour, once established, is hard to change.

We would like to weigh less but don’t want to give up our eating habits; we want to be fit but don’t want to get out and exercise. We want the outcome of behaviour change but not the process. We focus on the loss (can’t eat my favourite food) rather than the benefit (I have a healthy body). No one talks about New Year’s resolutions in February.

That’s why realistic goals are better than resolutions.

What belief, desire and energy can you put behind a realistic goal? What action will you take today? What is the benefit you want? What this means in terms of change is not just changing, but working out why we need to change.

The change we want for ourselves is always available to us. If we embrace that change and invest ourselves in its potential, it’s likely to be successful.