Springing into Spring – A Time for a “Fresh Start”
To most of us, spring represents a time for freshness, growth and re-birth. Flowers start to bloom, animals emerge from hibernation, and birds return to the north from their winter homes to nest, procreate, and chirp away from morning ‘til dusk.
In most parts of the country, days become longer, weather becomes milder, and many people emerge from their own winter hibernations and spend less time indoors. The warmer weather makes it easier to increase physical activity and many people work on shedding extra pounds accumulated during the more sedentary winter months.
Psychologically speaking, Spring resonates with many people who see Spring as a chance for a “fresh start.” With increased physical energy comes increased mental energy, along with anticipation for change and growth. Symbolically as well as literally, Spring is a great time to reinvent yourself! As you put the winter coats and gloves away, imagine yourself shedding not only the actual heaviness of winter clothing, but shedding yourself of the heaviness of a wintery mood. Set yourself free of old, rehashed themes of resentments, anxieties, pessimistic ways of thinking, as you let the light in for optimism, a sense of renewal and a fresh perspective.
Welcome a lighter, healthier you!
The following are tips to give yourself a “fresh start!”
- “Spring Clean” your Mind – Along with cleaning out the closets, Spring is a great time to focus on “Spring cleaning” your mind. Clean out the cobwebs of old, tired ways of thinking that lead to negative self-talk, self-doubt, and the inner critic within. It has been estimated that the average person thinks about 50,000 thoughts per day. If even 10% are negative thoughts, which is an understatement for most people, that comes to 500 negative thoughts a day on average! So be careful what you think and keep in mind a simple adage, think straight-feel great!
- Tap the Healing Power of Spring – The freshness of Spring can serve as a great inspiration to heal any well- worn resentments that you hold towards others who have disappointed or even wronged you. Along with the healing power of nature as you bask in the warmth and beauty of Spring, allow yourself to heal prior hurts that, replacing bitterness with forgiveness and acceptance. Work on accepting others for falling short of your expectations and not seeing things the way you very much wished they would. Don’t forget to forgive the most important person you need to forgive – yourself!
- Spring Yourself from the Comparison Trap! – One of the most common dilemmas people have that infringe on life satisfaction is envy and the human tendency to compare oneself to others. This Spring, how about accepting the fact that no matter how hard you try, you will always fall short if you find yourself always comparing? Remind yourself that some people like vanilla and some people like chocolate. In your quest for approval, make sure you don’t try to be vanilla to some and chocolate to someone else, in order to cover your bases and be liked by everyone! Besides, if you work on liking yourself, most likely others will too!
- Spring Forward! – Learn from Daylight Savings time when you move the clocks ahead. Be forward focused – build on your past regrets and missteps as stepping stones, rather than millstones that hold you back. This is a time to build on lessons learned, rather than be being steeped in “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thinking. There are no mistakes as long as you learn from them and do not allow yourself to be defined by them. Use the past as a guidepost and not a hitching post. Remember – where you are going is much more important than where you have been.
- Put Spring in your Step – Use the sunnier and milder weather to get moving! Research has consistently shown that people who exercise are happier, have more confidence, are healthier, and actually live longer! Longer days and the warmer weather offer many opportunities to be active while you have fun. As exercise boosts your mind, allow it to boost your friendships as you join others in outdoor activities such as walking, running, biking or joining a sports league. Remember that being active makes you mentally as well as physically fit – and slims your body at the same time! Along with exercise, enjoy the fruits of the season that can also help keep you fit!
- Spring is a Time for Rebirth! – All around us we see change, as flowers bloom, and nature evolves. This Spring, let yourself see the wonders of creation reflected also inside of you. Use this as a time for reinventing yourself and trying new things. By committing yourself to personal renewal, you can re-evaluate what in your life no longer works for you, and how you can grow, change and transform to become the best “YOU.”
- Remind Yourself that Hope Springs Eternal! – Spring is a time for optimism and hope. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, focuses on the importance of optimistic thinking for healthy life adjustment. In his earlier studies of what he coined Learned Helplessness, he found that a sense of helplessness and loss of hope leads to depression. Conversely, he reasoned, the ability to be hopeful and optimistic about the future and your power to control your own life events is vital for healthy living.
- Spring offers You a Fresh Start – With the freshness of Spring around you, look within to give yourself the gift of a “fresh start.” This Spring is the most important Spring in your life, as only the present gives you the opportunity to really renew yourself. Build on the winters of your disappointments and regrets to breathe new life into old issues. Perhaps there are no do-overs, but there are indeed second chances!
Snap yourself into Spring Activity – If you find yourself still stuck in ruts of wintery moods and dark ways of thinking, how about using the elastic band technique? Keep an elastic band on your wrist and when you catch yourself thinking unhealthy, pessimistic thoughts, snap the band on your wrist and replace toxic ways of thinking with more healthy and rational ones. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “he makes me so mad” with a snap of the wrist replace this phrase with “I am mad when he does that – he does not really have the power to “make me‘” anything. I am in control of my thoughts and reactions.” As you replace unhealthy thoughts with more empowering ones, you will feel “springier” than ever!
What Thanksgiving Can Teach Us Everyday of theYear
Although those who strictly go by their calendars will disagree, Thanksgiving does not have to be only on November 25th. What a shame that something so important as thankfulness seems to be relegated to be the focus for one day a year, Thanksgiving is not the only day to give thanks! Rather, and thankfully I might add, it can last the whole year long! If we can only use the spirit of Thanksgiving as a guide every day of the year, happiness would be some much more attainable.
Why is it so hard to keep the Thanksgiving spirit?
- A negative thinking style that limits the ability to see the wonderful life lessons in every setback and challenge.
- A sense of entitlement that life should be more fair and other people have it better or are just plain luckier.
- Being too busy to “smell the roses.”
- Focusing on what is wrong with your life rather than what is right.
- Being pulled by disappointments rather than being stretched and energized by dreams.
- An irresistible tendency to compare yourself with others, as there is always someone who has more on every count.
- The enticing quality of bitterness and grudges that gives us a lift by making us feel superior and righteous over being “wronged.”
- A tendency to be judgmental rather than accepting, so the land of the “shoulds” and “coulds” just seems so “right.”
- Worry and “what if thinking” is not an easy habit to break. Rather, it feeds on itself!
- Gratitude is a nice word and sentiment but it just doesn’t cut it in a world with so much stress, problematic people, a difficult economy and personal challenges that you did not ask for and never wanted.
- Grateful People are Happier People
Despite the enticing reasons for relegating thankfulness to one day of the year, those who are more grateful in everyday life are happier people. Countless research findings, particularly in the rapidly emerging field of Positive Psychology, have shown that gratefulness and life satisfaction go hand in hand. For example, in his very gratifying book in the Positive Psychology field, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (2008), UC Davis Psychology professor, Robert Emmons shows us that people who focus on being grateful are, as a whole, happier people. In his study with college students, he and his co-researcher McCullough found in a 10 week study, that those students who wrote down 5 things each week that they were grateful for resulted in being 25 per cent happier than those students who were simply asked to write down 5 things that happened each week. This study is just one of many that reveal that consciously practicing gratefulness makes us feel good!
Gratitude is a Choice – It is a gift you give to Yourself!
So this Thanksgiving remind yourself that Thanksgiving can last every day of the year. If we choose to focus on what we are grateful for rather than what goes so wrong in our lives, we will get a great side effect to this attitude of gratitude. We will be happier! And if we are happier, people tend to be happier with us and we happier with them! A win-win!
So next time you think that life does not really deserve your gratitude, remember that it is not a matter of if life deserves your gratitude – You deserve it!