Every year, people all over the world resolve to overcome unhealthy habits by taking away certain elements from their lives. They vow to avoid desserts, to stop eating fast food and to stop logging so many hours at the office. But that never really seems to work. Instead, improve your quality of life by focusing on adding healthy habits and activities instead of getting rid of bad ones.
Too often our Don’t Do List is bigger than our To Do List. And even worse, our To Do Lists are often populated with stuff that we feel like we should do—which means they all end up feeling like chores. Make a single powerful change in your approach and add something awesome to your life. Here’s the one big ask we have for whatever you choose:
Enjoy everything you do.
The secret to health does not lie in avoiding the awful things that erode health; rather, it lies in pursuing the awesome things that create vitality. Adding positive things to your life is much easier and has the added benefit of squeezing out the undesirable behaviors.
Here’s a little more help for how to do this “enjoy” thing correctly. I once had a client who was eating a bowl of ice cream every night. We worked on this and he eventually got to the point where he was no longer having nightly ice cream. Success, right? Not quite. He still wanted the ice cream, he just wasn’t having it. But there was still desire for it. As a result, he was fighting the ice cream urge. The real success came when he lost the urge for the ice cream when it became irrelevant.
It is often said that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. This is true of both our emotions and our nutrition. If you love things that wrecks your health, you’ll have a harder time sustaining healthy behaviors. It’s when the awful things become irrelevant and the awesome things become appealing that the road to health becomes less challenging. When your desires and actions point in opposite directions, you are miserable. When they point in the same direction, you get harmony and happiness.
This is why, for the New Year, we are asking you to enjoy everything you do. Any form of exercise you hate, you shouldn’t be doing. Find a way to get a complete fitness experience by seeking out a mode of physical activity that makes your heart sing. I’m serious.
Hating movement—just like hating healthy food—is always a learned response. Our bodies are not wired to naturally dislike that which sustains health, life and vitality.
If you hate one type of healthy food, find something else to eat. There are simply too many healthy food options available to hate them all. This is worth repeating: Hating health is a learned response.
Now that we’ve warmed up your “enjoyment muscles,” let’s go through two more ways to help you add awesome stuff to your life this year.
One Good “M” Each Day
Here are the three M’s: Movement, Meal and Mindset. Each day, commit to making at least one of these three things a positive, powerful, enjoyable experience for yourself.
Movement: Get moving in an enjoyable way. It can be working out or not. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are moving your body while enjoying yourself.
Meal: Find a healthy meal option where you might normally have chosen unwisely. Disrupt your unhealthful patterns and develop strength for making future great choices by making a single great one that day.
Mindset: All of us have days where we have an unhealthy, unproductive thought response to a challenging situation. Commit to handling one of these situations differently. Again, it’s about disrupting one pattern to establish another good one.
Bring Playfulness Into Movement
Have you ever noticed how a kid can make a game out of anything? Do the same thing with your daily activities. Here’s an example: See how many steps or flights of stairs you can take in a day. Make it a game or competition with your friends, family or coworkers.
Bringing playfulness into movement might cause you to start looking for more reasons to move. And we know that even if you exercise regularly, moving more outside of your workout is the game-changer.
Focus on the Opportunities
Usually when we hit a rough spot with health, we focus too much on the obstacles—the reasons why we can’t exercise today, eat healthfully, etc. And that frustration prompts us to make negative choices as we seek a quick way to feel better in the moment. Instead, focus on the Opportunities. Direct your attention to what you can do, not what you can’t. Look for enjoyable opportunities to get past the irritating obstacles.
Resolve to do awesome stuff in the New Year. 2016 will likely have the same ups and downs as every year, so make a simple choice to make “you” different.