Thursday, December 31, 2015

Don’t Settle: Get Inspired With New Year’s Resolutions for What You Really Want!

Atlanta’s Homeward Choir, a group of 26 homeless men from Atlanta’s Central Night Shelter, was invited to sing at the White House in December 2015. When the group got the invitation--and how that came about is a wonderful story --among the many questions the choir members asked of their director, Donal Noonan, was “Why us?” to which Noonan responded, “Why not us?”

And that is the question I invite you to ask yourself this New Year, as you make your New Year’s resolutions: Why not your biggest dream? Your dearest wish? Your fondest hope?

Why settle for “I will lose 20 pounds this year” when what you really want is a vibrant, healthy, strong body that just happens to also be 20 pounds lighter? Why settle for “I will get a new job” when what you really want is a job that’s a terrific fit for your skills and talents with a paycheck that rewards you accordingly?

You see, it’s hard to muster up the passion, enthusiasm and persistence it takes to realize your New Year’s resolutions when they’re lackluster. They need luster! Brilliance! Shine! How else are you going to commit to something that will take persistence and perseverance?

Yes, you do have to map out the steps to getting there. For your “vibrant, healthy, strong, 20 pound lighter body” you must figure out the diet and exercise plan that will allow you to fulfill your goal. In addition to a new mental conditioning that includes, in all likelihood, mindfulness and meditation, positive affirmations and the like. Probably also setting up a buddy system for yourself, so that you have the support you need along the way.

Will you be motivated to do all that just to lose 20 pounds? Not to mention the day to day focus that it takes! Maybe. But there’s a lot more pulling power towards your goal when you are aiming for what you really want: vibrant, healthy, strong and 20 pounds lighter.

The same thing applies to your “I will get a new job” resolution. Nice, but will your resolution sustain you through figuring out the skills you need to acquire or hone, finding the money, time and seminars/classes you need? Then through the resume process, the hunt for the right job process, the spiffing-yourself-up process, and everything else it takes to get a new job. Isn’t it far more inspiring to go for a “terrific job that’s a terrific fit with terrific pay” resolution (and why not add “terrific boss and terrific co-workers” to your resolution as well?!).

Why not? As W. Clement Stone famously said: “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Engage The Power of The Possible to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is ushered in with depictions of a baby: pretty obvious symbolism, right? New Year, new beginnings, new resolutions.

But babies usually go on to crawl, toddle, and eventually, run. Why don’t our New Year’s resolutions fare as well? Usually we crawl through them, maybe toddle a bit, but then fall down. And stay down. Run with it? Oh please, in your dreams. So much for that new diet/exercise regimen/budget resolution. Or whatever was on your “Gonna get that done this year!” list.

But here’s the thing: if babies had a “fall-down-and-stay-down” attitude, we’d all still be on our backs staring at mobiles. The question then is, how do babies do it? What do babies have that we don’t?

Babies have a great case of the “possibles.” Babies have no concept of the impossible. They don’t question, “Can I walk?” “Will I walk?” they just persist until they do. We adults, however, doubt everything. The moment you fall off your diet/exercise regimen/budget or whatever your New Year’s resolution, you’re “Can’t do this, it’s never going to happen,” which too often morphs into “I’m a loser, a failure, might as well give up now.”

When I went back to ballet class, after many years (read “decades”), I was loaded with doubts. I figured my no-longer-20-30-40 year old body wasn’t up for much, but what the heck; I’d give it a try. For those of you who haven’t attended a ballet class, know that it is a totally “no talking” environment. The teacher gives instructions and corrections, and the students absorb. Silently. No objections, no arguing, no talking back.

The teacher shows us a series of steps. I think “Yeah, right. Impossible.” I fumble through it. The teacher corrects me, expecting me to manage the steps. She doesn’t ask me if I think I can do them, or how much pain this ridiculous position is causing me. She just corrects me--again. So it goes, week after week.

Lo and behold, eventually, I get it right. More importantly, the teacher’s belief in what was possible for me completely over-rode my belief in all that was impossible. I eventually went way beyond what I had thought imaginable.

What I learned from that ballet experience was to start any project, go for any dream, adopt my New Year’s resolutions with all the reasons why it would be possible for me to achieve. And whenever I fell down, to categorically refuse to accept all the “ah, this is impossible” thoughts that would instantly come to mind.

Write down your New Year’s resolution. Write all the reasons why this resolution is possible. Go for at least 10 reasons, 20 is even better. Keep your list handy so you can see it every day. Whenever you don’t succeed in the moment or struggle with your resolution, review your list. Affirm to yourself all your “possibles.”

Get into that “anything is possible” mindset, and go for it. Or as Robert H. Schuller famously said: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

Monday, December 14, 2015

No Surprise: New Yale Study Shows Negative Beliefs Can Increase Chances of Alzheimer’s

 A new Yale School of Public Health study is the first to link negative beliefs to brain changes that can cause Alzheimer’s. The findings are consistent with a multitude of studies that show what we think has a profound physiological impact on our body.

Not only are positive beliefs now shown to protect against Alzheimer’s, but an appreciative, grateful, happy and optimistic outlook can result in better cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure which can lead to longer life.

The Yale study authors used MRIs to examine healthy, dementia-free subjects from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the nation’s longest-running scientific study of human aging. Researchers found that participants with more negative beliefs about aging showed a greater decline in the volume of the hippocampus, a part of the brain crucial to memory, than those who had beliefs that are more positive. Less hippocampus volume is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Your thoughts and emotions are in fact cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality.  It turns out that what we think and feel have far greater impact on our physical well-being, and to happy, healthy longevity than we may realize.

The study was led by Becca Levy, associate professor of public health and of psychology. “We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” says Levy. “Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realize that these negative beliefs about aging can be mitigated and positive beliefs about aging can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.” The findings were published online Dec. 7 in the journal Psychology and Aging.

To learn more about the mind-physical body connection, watch a YouTube at