Yes, it’s time, and yes, you can! Your brain is pretty powerful, but you already know that, right? Well, I think some of us forget from time to time. What we need to do is learn how to boss our brain around, and not let our feelings and emotions rule us. We can take charge, and decide what to think about. We can take charge, and decide what we will or will not do. We can take charge, and learn to focus on something different than what is causing us pain. The only catch? It takes at least 3 weeks to rewire our brain. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have troubles sticking with the 3 weeks. It’s hard to start a new habit, and stick to it. Most people will fail by the end of the week. Some will fail after two weeks. But those who are DETERMINED can make it to 21 days, and voila, it becomes a life habit. For those of us who need that extra boost to keep going, we need to learn how to push ourselves when we want to give up. That is what this post is about.
IT TAKES 21 DAYS TO MAKE A HABIT
Yup. There is no easy road. Twenty one days is a long time. Can you do it? Of course you can! You just have to WANT to do it, and then make a plan on HOW you’re going to do it. Some people can do it all on their own, other people need help. I am putting up my hand here that I am one of those who needs help. Unfortunately, I tend to be a procrastinator, and so put things off. I find it hard to get started. But once I start, I’m fine. It’s just that little push that I need. How about you? Do you need a push? I don’t mean someone bossing you around, because we all know that that doesn’t work, all that does is make us angry. When we are adults, we strangely don’t like being told what to do, especially by our spouses, and NEVER from our parents. We’re old enough, we know better, right? I’m laughing. Why do we get so stubborn like that? Hmmm. Anyhow, back to making a habit. Decide right now what you need to make a habit. It might be to stop smoking, it might be to brush your teeth 3x a day, it might be to empty the dishwasher every morning. You pick, only you know what you need to do. Write it down. Find a piece of paper and write your goal down. BAM! Half the battle has been won if you can do that first step.
FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Now, if you’re a firstborn and can tackle this all on your own, go right ahead. For all of us born second, third, or fourth in line, we probably need help. Find someone who you can be accountable with, and that they will hold you accountable. Ask someone who is strong, not someone who is also struggling, otherwise the two of you will never accomplish anything. Trust me, I know from experience! When I decided that I was sick and tired of being overweight, I called up my mom. She was strong. (She’s in heaven, so that’s the reason for past tense). She was AMAZINGLY strong and could do anything by setting her mind to it. I didn’t inherit that gene, and I’m so sad. Anyhow, I gave her a call. I told her what I was going to do. I was going to lose weight, but not by a diet, but by drinking more water, drinking one cup of green tea a day, and by exercising at least 5 days a week. I told her that I would call once a week on Sunday nights, and tell her my weight. If I forgot to call, she would call me. We struck a deal. I faithfully called her every Sunday, you know why? Because my plan worked. Every week I was losing another pound. Some weeks I lost 2 pounds in one week. I was so excited at seeing results that I couldn’t WAIT to phone and tell her! My mom recorded my weight in her journal for a year. I lost over 50 pounds, it was amazing. Now, fast forward 20 years, and I am back up to that starting weight again. Gah. See what happens when you stop exercising?! I need to find a new accountability partner that can help me focus, because I needed that extra push to be held accountable. Find someone you can trust too, and that will help you.
DO YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY?
I’m pretty sure your answer is yes. We ALL want to be happy! I’m sure if we could have a happy button, we’d press it every day. Well, the good news is that you can be happy every day. All you have to do is train your brain. How? By thinking of three things every day that you are thankful for. That’s it! Can you do it? Now, some of us are not morning people. When we wake up, it’s not always puppies and ice-cream. It’s more like rose thorns and bitter coffee. Well, you can change your day by re-wiring your brain. When you stagger into the bathroom to do your morning release of built up liquid, start thinking positive thoughts. While you brush your teeth before you exit the bathroom (because you don’t want to kill anyone with your gross stale breath) you can keep focusing on something you are thankful for. When you get dressed and do your hair or make up, that is also time to be thinking of something positive. All you have to do is think of THREE THINGS you are thankful for. You could think that in less than five seconds. I’m thankful for my bed. I’m thankful for my pillows. I’m thankful for my soft sheets. Done! And off I go about my day. Perhaps the next day I might be more philosophical. I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful for my husband. I’m thankful for a paycheque. You get the point. Every single day, when you get up, think of three things you are thankful for. It sets the tone for your whole day. Things will go bad as they always do, but you have already started the day on a thankful note. Trust me – after 21 days, you will be happy and joyful, because you’ll realize that you have SO MUCH to be thankful for each and every day that you are alive.
DECIDE EVERY NIGHT TO HAVE A GREAT DAY THE FOLLOWING DAY
I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. If you decide the night before that you’re going to have a great day, you will! You will remember that you said you were going to, and you will. There will always be things that happen that suck. You may drop your toast butter side down, and then the dog gets to it first. Your cat may puke under your piano. Your kid may have forgotten to tell you they needed something for school. Your hubby may have left the toilet seat up for the millionth time. Doesn’t matter. Those little things shouldn’t stop you from having a great day. How do you make a great day? Easy. Your attitude. When anyone you encounter asks, “How are you?” Answer, I’m GREAT! Don’t say fine. Don’t say tired. Don’t say grumpy. Don’t say, “I need coffee”. Make your answer GREAT! And smile! What will happen is that you WILL feel great, and you WILL feel happy! Don’t let yucky moments throughout the day steal your joy. Get into the habit of promoting positive self-talk. I’m not saying you can’t ever complain, all I’m saying is don’t make complaining the strong habit. Make it a weak habit. Make it so weak that you only allow yourself to complain once a month. HA! You can do it! Sounds impossible, but it’s not. You’re just rewiring, or training your brain. Just like I hope you were trained to say please and thank you as a child, train yourself to respond positively, instead of a negative response.
NEGATIVE THOUGHTS THAT POP INTO YOUR HEAD
Guess what. There is no way that your thoughts will always be happy and full of joy. Some days are just going to be bad, no matter how much you wish they weren’t. But hey – what to do when negative thoughts keep popping up? We need to learn and recognize that they are a pattern. If they are a pattern, we can change that pattern, it just takes work. Work to recognize that it’s the same old pattern, and what you’re going to do to change that pattern. We need to be able to stop our brains from bullying us, and putting us into a frame of mind of sadness, and unbearable stress. It’s easy to become addicted to negative thoughts, and negative self-talk, but for our health, we need to kick that habit to the curb. To stop the habit, we need to acknowledge, and own our problem. We need to be able to admit it. “I have unhealthy habits. I realize I often turn to the worst case scenario. I often speak negatively about myself, to myself.” Say it, and own the problem. Only you can decide to change your thought process. Only you can decide that you will not be self-destructive any more. Only you can decide not to always make things a worst case scenario. Own your reactions to what happens around you. When you do, you can, and will be able to make changes.
YOU WILL EXPERIENCE SETBACKS AND FAILURE
Yes, you will. Why? Because none of us are perfect. We can’t control ourselves, and our emotions and feelings 24/7. There is no way! There are too many factors that influence us. If we were all perfect, we’d be fine! But we’re not. We have families, children, parents, bosses, annoying pets, so many different things that challenge us on a day to day basis. Some days are going to suck. But hey – if you can go a month and only have 2-3 days that are really awful, that’s great! Try to at least get through one week without having a setback. You don’t have to beat yourself up because you think you’ve failed as a mom because you lost your temper and yelled. You don’t have to beat yourself up because you didn’t have dinner on the table before 8:00 p.m. You don’t have to think you’re the world’s worst mother because you didn’t make cupcakes for your child’s classroom for their birthday. Allow yourself some slack. Females – remember that we have crazy hormones, and they continue to be crazy all our lives. We don’t even get a break with menopause, it gets worse! So, learn to accept that you’re going to have setbacks, and you will fail, but that’s okay, because you can get up the next day and start fresh all over again. Think of three things you are thankful for, and when you keep focusing on positives, your life will be more positive. That’s how life works! The Chumbawumba song comes to my mind….”I get knocked down, but I get up again” Keep getting up, and you will succeed!
YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
You can rewire your brain. You can wake up each day and be thankful. You can. There is no such word as can’t. It’s a decision to do something, and you either will, or you won’t. The choice is yours! Each person is responsible for what they allow to go through their head. We are all the same. Humans. Weak and strong. We are not perfect, and that’s allowed. When you make mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and change your behaviour. Move on. Don’t allow your past to be an anchor to weigh you down. Live in the moment, because every day is a new one. Allow yourself to fail, but don’t try to fail on purpose. That’s not living. We achieve greatness when we believe we can do anything. Guess what. We CAN do anything, if we put our minds to it! Decide to rewire your brain today. Remember, change your thoughts, change your life!