I am told constantly that I need to stop being such a blatant Pollyanna – you know the kind – the eternal optimist who always sees the glass as half-full. Some 30 years ago, I had a fraternity brother who said to me, “Are you EVER unhappy?” Back then, I didn’t know the difference, really. I barely knew who I was as a person, let alone any notion of being happy or unhappy.
That conversation stuck with me all these years. I just returned from seeing my best friend in Denver, and before I left, I tried to figure out what to get him as a present (I never walk in empty handed). I chose Joel Osteen’s latest book, “Every Day is Friday,” because I knew Wayne liked Joel and because it goes back to my eternal optimist roots.
I was elated when I picked up the January 1 issue of Parade magazine and found a treasure trove of great articles on self-help, healthy lifestyle and other “New Year” type features, including a short list of seven tips to help make you healthier. Here are each of the seven and my own observations about each one.
#1: Create of List of Five Things That Make You Happy – I once had a client who had on her desk a glass globe full of sand and shells. She kept this from a trip she took to the Caribbean, and every time she wanted a “mental” vacation, she looked at the globe and thought about her trip. There’s a wonderful book I give to clients and friends that just exudes happiness, “14,000 things to be happy about.” I love this book because you can open it up to any page, any time, and find something that makes you smile. We need to do more of that – smile, that is.
#2: Cut Calories, Not Taste – Close friends and family know I went through a weight loss in 2010-11, so I am a firm believer in cutting the fat and keeping the flavor. It’s so easy to do – all you need is a firm commitment. Yes, I still stumble and enjoy binging on salty chips, but there are definitely ways to cut back and still feel like you’re enjoying what you take in.
#3: Quit Waffling on Your Decisions – I once had a client who was the nicest guy in the world. If you asked him to give you the shirt off his back, he would have taken it off with no question asked. Yet, he couldn’t make a decision on what direction he wanted his company to go in for the future. I had him as a client for 12 years, and every time I tried to resign, he offered me more money. Finally, I HAD to make a decision to let him go. It was one of the best decisions I made in a very long time. So, to take a dose of my own advice, make a decision!
#4: Sharpen Your Short-Term Memory – As a I get older, this gets harder and harder. One thing that helps me is to to the NY Times Crossword Puzzle, but I know that’s not for everybody. Parade suggests that if you eliminate distractions such as TV, you can begin to organize your thoughts into a more understandable format.
#5: Strengthen Relationships – One time, I had a friend/associate who cleaned out her address book every January. Anyone she hadn’t heard from in a year was tossed out – you see, Patty was always being the initiator instead of the friendship or relationship being a two-way street. I like that approach, but I’d rather strengthen the relationships that offer me the most in return rather than toss someone out.
#6: Get Organized About Paying Bills – I have one word for you: QuickBooks. Yes, it really works. However, you can use any bookkeeping software as long as you keep up with it on a regular basis. Remember, what you put in is what you get out of any software. I am not a finance guru, but if you keep up with your bills I think you’ll find yourself saving more in the long run.
#7: Stop Dwelling on Past Mistakes – Couldn’t we all benefit from this? I don’t walk around with sackcloth & ashes, but I do tend to dwell on my mistakes – just like most other people, I suppose. I vow to change by taking that energy and focusing it on something more positive, like the present and the future.
The title of the article is a good coda; I don’t think experts expect us to do all seven of these things in one day or even one week, but how about focusing on one of these just once a day?