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Are you writing New Year’s resolutions?

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If you are considering New Year’s resolutions, you are not alone. On the 1st of January, millions of people around the world think about making changes in their lives.

According to Wikipedia, the first recorded New Year’s resolutions were made by the Babylonians around 4,000 years ago. Most commonly, it revolved around returning any borrowed farm equipment, as their New Year coincided with the start of their farming season.

Not long after, the Romans would start the New Year by counting the stock of the previous year and setting a goal to accomplish more in the coming year. The Chinese also set a special New Year’s resolution – house cleaning. At the coming of the New Year, the Chinese would clean their house from top to bottom. In America, when people take down their Christmas tree or close out the previous year in one way or another, they clean up their homes, their accounts and records.

Today, New Year’s resolutions generally are based around self-improvement goals. They are a way to mark the beginning of changes in our habits and lifestyle. The most common resolutions include losing weight, quitting smoking and/or drinking, and improving finances. Unfortunately out of the millions who make resolutions, only 10 percent ever manage to achieve them. It is a sad fact, but many of these resolutions do not even last longer than a few weeks. By July, most have been completely forgotten and no real progress against the resolution has been made.

How does a person actually make changes? It starts with being discontent with the way things are. Then an intention to improve the situation is made.

This is like a promise to oneself. Sometimes the process necessary to bring this into actuality is more work than the person is ready to put forth. Often the person doesn’t understand the steps of making changes. The key to change is to accept the power of thought. There are many books written about the concept that the thing you think about, you bring about. If you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results.

The solution is to exchange your thoughts of discontent and focus on your goals. The feelings that result from imaging a positive outcome actually change body chemistry. Replace upsetting emotions of fear and anxiety with peaceful assurances; calm the body and mind to find clarity and correct action. Decide to stop being a victim and give up pity patterns that may have been comforting in the past.

Step one:  To implement change, start using your mind in constructive ways instead of destructive ways. Then your thoughts are working for you instead of against you. A person can’t smile and frown at the same time. Eventually the old ways will shift if the new goals are practiced. Change starts with a choice. Every minute is really an opportunity to make a choice about what you think and hold in your emotions.

Step two: Set an affirmation, because words change emotions and attitude. Declare your goal as already enacted. For example: I am reaching my desired weight by eating smaller portions and choosing healthful snacks to replace junk food  Say or even sing this affirmation over and over throughout the day. Visualize yourself doing this action and how you feel and look when you do. Follow this intention in your imagery to completion.

Step three: Schedule time to practice your affirmation. Use a breath cycle to clear your mind. Breathe into the count of seven and exhale to the count of seven. Practice this at least 10 minutes to reach inner calm. If you think you can’t still your mind and relax, you won’t continue this discipline. This is the way you attain any accomplishment. You would never expect to learn to play the piano if you just sat down in front of the keyboard a few times, but never touched the keys. If you didn’t practice, your skill as a pianist would never improve.

Step four: Make a list of ways to change your life style to incorporate your New Year’s Resolution. Start doing at least one of the changes each week. Take little steps and note your improvement. Keep on keeping on. If you get off track, start over that day; don’t wait until next Monday. Go easy on yourself when you revert to the old patterns. It just means you need to practice the new ways of doing things more each day. Remember, practice pays off.

Rev. Patrice Joy Masterson, MA is a Healthy Living Consultant. She offers personalized and group integrative programs at the Harmonizing Health Retreat in Bedford. For more information call 937-631-5581 or go online to www.harmonizinghealthretreat.com.