Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Three Simple Questions To Ask Yourself To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions Alive

At the start of the New Year, most of us made promises to ourselves (i.e., lose weight, new job, save more). Now that the first month of 2018 is over, it's time to take stock on how well we're doing.

Some of us may need to make some adjustments. One way, is to look inside ourselves to make sure our inner self is on the right track." Here are three questions to ask.
Are You Being Honest With Yourself? How do you really feel about the thing you want to change--your body, your work, your finances?. It’s only when you admit the truth about your feelings to yourself that you can do anything about a situation so that change can occur.

How Faithful Are You? Not to your spouse or significant other (although that's obviously important). But how faithful are you to your commitment to get healthier, learn another skill, get a better job, save more? Do you have a 'tomorrow' attitude? Or an 'it’ll never happen, why bother' attitude? Instead, learn how to better meet your commitments to yourself--through setting baby-step goals, or brainstorming strategies with friends/counselors, reading up on what’s worked for others. It feels great to live up to your commitments. It’s a sure path to success.

What is Your Sense of Responsibility? Whenever something wonky happens, do you look first for someone to blame, including yourself? Or do you quickly start looking for a possible solution to whatever happened? Blame never gets anything done. Blaming yourself only makes you feel bad, and blaming others may make you feel good in the moment, but you’re still stuck with the issue.

Being honest with yourself, faithful and committed to a goal and willing to take responsibility are the first steps to problem-solving and reaching you New Year's Resolution goals. It's not too late. Real change never comes easy or quickly.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Valentine’s Day Gift: Go With All Your Heart!

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart,” so Confucius said some 2500 years ago, and his wisdom still holds true.

But how often do we heed it? How often do we go about our lives, our loves, our work, our friendships, our families, with all our heart?

This Valentine’s Day, what if you approached all of your life with all your heart? What if, even better, you didn’t reserve the precious gift of all your heart for your significant other, but gave it freely, willingly, to every aspect of your life?

I look at my dogs, my beloved animal companions, and whether they are eating, sleeping, chasing a leaf, riding in the car or snuggling by my side, they put all their heart into it. They are 100% engaged, enthusiastic, eager about whatever it is. How our lives would change if we would follow their example, their instinctive joy.

I know that there are moments when I feel myself listening, really listening, to a friend not just with my ears, but with my whole being, and somehow the interaction becomes charged with meaning, a depth it didn’t have before. There are moments when I lose myself in my work, in the most positive sense of the word, when the connection between the work and me is so strong, so powerful, that I surprise myself with what I’ve achieved. It’s not that I’ve suddenly turned super-star brilliant. Oh, no, I’m still the same old me, warts and all, but for a moment, when I put all my heart into that project, that piece of work, magic happens.

When you put all your heart into something, you set aside all doubts, all fears. More than that, you momentarily forget them, because you are so engaged, so present with the experience that there’s no room for self-questioning, self-doubt. You’re too busy focusing with laser-like intensity on whoever or whatever is in front of you. In those “all your heart” moments, you are confident without thinking about it, you are courageous without asking yourself if you could be brave, you are the best of who you are naturally, without effort, without strain.

I say “moments” advisedly, because putting all your heart into something or an interaction with someone takes intense focus. It takes being present with every fiber of your being, which frankly, isn’t the easiest thing to maintain. How dogs do it all the time, I have no idea. But what I do know is that one moment added to another moment and to another results in a span of time that can increase with practice. As with anything else you want to get good at, commitment, practice and persistence are the key.

Unless, of course, you’re a dog. Then, oh lucky you, you were just born with it!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Make 2018 Your Year of Courage

You know how in Chinese astrology, the years are given different labels? Year of the Rat, Year of the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, and so on. This year, 2018, is the Year of the Dog. People born in the Year of the Dog are said to have the best traits of human nature. Dog-lover that I am, I agree! And courage is certainly one of those traits.

So what if you decided to make 2018 your personal Year of Courage?

No, not courage in the sense of channeling your inner warrior (although that certainly has its place) but courage in the original meaning of the word: with heart.

What if you had the courage to accept yourself exactly as you are? Seeking improvement, sure, that’s what all those New Year’s Resolutions are about, but what if you started by accepting yourself in your present condition/situation. Loving who you have grown yourself to be, including the you who now wants improvement.

What if you had the courage to speak up for yourself, rather than defend yourself after the fact, or remain far too silent for far too long? And what if you spoke up for yourself from a place of courage – of heart – where you don’t need to scream, shout or hide your truth. Where you thought first about the most effective way to express yourself before you opened your mouth, which involves a lot more deliberate thinking and a lot less drama.

What if you had the courage to listen not just with your ears, but with your heart? What if your primary aim in listening was to understand what the other was saying. Not only the words, but the meaning, the importance of the communication to that person. What if you had the courage to ask for elaboration, for “more” in order to better understand, to dig deeper, rather than figuring out what your response will be before they even finish talking.

What if you had the courage to allow your friends, loved ones, and significant others, to lead their lives in the way that best suits them? What if you showed more interest in what gives them joy than you do in criticizing whatever you think they are doing “wrong”?

What if you had the courage to see that your way isn’t the only “right” way, that there are as many ways to live a fulfilling life as there are individuals striving to do so? What if you stopped trying to change your friends and loved ones, or control their behavior, not out of “Fine! Do it your way!” but out of love, out of respect for their right to make their own choices. Out of your courageous heart.

Courage. A small word – seven letters. A powerful word, because it takes all your heart, to be courageous.

Try it. Make this your year of Courage, and watch your life transform.

(Originally appeared in the Huffington Post. For more HP articles by Dr. Nelson, go to