AT no excuses

Year end holidays seem to inspire a perusal of our personal status, for better or worse. This has spawned an entire annual ritual of resolutions designed to be failures for most of us. Generally, these have to do with weight management or winning the lottery. I may be in a minority, but I fail to see the point in making decisions designed to fail. I don’t get it.

For my time and perusal energy, it makes much more sense to explore more internal things, to take a barometric reading of my personal level of happiness or satisfaction. My 2013 resolution is the same as previous years … to accept and embrace responsibility for my life and continue to pursue my purpose and happiness.

Adult living is filled with choices. From lifestyle choices to employment choices, spiritual to entertainment, we make thousands of choices daily. We choose what time to awaken and what time to retire. We choose our eating habits and our activity habits. We choose our friends and our conversation. What motivates our choices? Why do we choose what we do? Maybe family expectations? Or peer pressure? Or perhaps we are faith-driven? It’s pretty helpful to know what “drives” us or pushes us onward.

choicesI am a result of my choices. My life is what I have worked to make it, or not. Contrary to popular political opinion, that which I believe I lack is also my responsibility whether in education, relational or employment. This is an appropriate “taking stock” of where I am now. I am me, imperfect but growing. The past is past and gone. I am an adult and responsible for my life now and the direction I go toward tomorrow.

Next, I must decide (choose), whether or not I am “happy” or content with who I am. My answer is, “yes!” I am content, but at the same time, there is always room for improvement! There is always something I can learn, some way I can improve or enhance my life. I have purpose. I have goals. I have dreams – some of which I expect to come to pass, others are simply dreams. What can I do to achieve my goals? Do I need more education? Do I need to change my behavior in some way, maybe change my dietary habits? Activity level? Social relationships are vital to life and happiness. Am I content with my friends or would new friends benefit me?

Here are some workable steps that I find helpful in the process:

  1. Own it then change it! We all have made mistakes in our lifetimes. These are arguably the best life-lessons available. The trick is to not make the same mistake repeatedly, so we have to figure out what went wrong and why without putting the blame on someone or something else. Learn from past mistakes!
  2. Take control of “idle” thoughts! This is vital because we all have imaginations that like to stray into dangerous, selfish, and unproductive territory. We have to teach ourselves not to give way to such negative or unproductive thought patterns. Rather, we can learn to steer our thoughts into positive and productive directions.
  3. Make positive attitude choices. For example, I can choose to smile rather than frown. I can choose to believe the best about people and situations rather than the worst. I can choose to give the benefit of the doubt, especially to those close to me. Why? People seldom (not always, sadly) are intentionally hurtful, but we all are imperfect!
  4. Develop an “atta boy/girl” attitude. Friends, family and co-workers appreciate honest encouragement. There is no need for falsehoods, but true appreciation uplifts everyone. We all need to be appreciated not just for what we do, but for who we are. If we want to receive this appreciation, we must learn to give it! Even that person that drives us nuts at work has some good quality that deserves recognition. As we train ourselves to appreciate others, our focus and attitude is gently adjusted.
  5. Stop worrying, practice gratitude, and take positive action! Worry is something we all face, or perhaps better stated in today’s language, STRESS! We have relationship stresses, academic or employment stresses, and individual or personal stresses. My adult son is very good at reminding me not to worry about the bills. Worry, obviously, accomplishes nothing beneficial … NOTHING! Gratitude is a powerful tool in the face of stress, too. If we remind ourselves of what we have accomplished, how we have progressed, all we have acquired, the stress shrinks in power and effect. Whatever the stress causer(s), it is much better to DO what needs to be done instead of worrying about it. Do what you can do, and more often than not, the situation will work itself out in a satisfactory manner. If bills are the issue, stop spending money and examine your budget to reduce expenses and maximize income. This is important in this time of economic uncertainty.

Bottom line? No one else is responsible for MY happiness or success. No one else has the ability to satisfy or fulfill my expectations of life. It is up to me to accept who and where I am. If there is something I wish to change, I have the resources to develop a workable plan of action to make the desired changes. I can smile and nod in satisfaction knowing I am on my own pathway, where I want to be and the person I wish to be. What better way to enter the new year?

As 2012 comes to a close, take stock of where you are in your journey toward your brand of happiness. Instead of making resolutions doomed to fail, examine your goals and dreams and evaluate your progress. Together, let’s make 2013 a year of innovation, creativity, and progress as together we pursue happiness!