It is January 2023, Happy New Year! After surviving the holidays hopefully unscathed by the excitement and chaos, I would like you to take a moment and reflect on those New Year's resolutions where you feel fully emboldened to accomplish this perpetual tradition. The excitement and tension are real during this month, as we leap into another year with high hopes of new beginnings. I ask you to join me in a conversation about how this tradition serves you and a different perspective, that may be - the change for you.
Many seek to establish new goals and habits at this time of year. This tradition dates back over 4,000 years to honor the harvest and was intended to serve as a repayment to Mother Earth. Later, the ancient Romans marked January 1 and named it in honor of the two-faced Roman god, Janus who was said to be the gate keeper between mortals and gods and the “keeper” to see the future for new beginnings, but also to the past for reflection and resolution. With Christianity, the New Year's resolution tradition evolved with faithful acknowledgement of our past transgressions and the resolve to be a better person and do better. In the present day, New Year's resolutions are carried out with a wide variety depending on one’s faith and culture, but they all seem to encourage a proclamation of annual self-improvement.
Deciding on one's resolution requires a reflection of the past and sends the mind into thoughts and expectations of the future. Processing such information with broad sweeps can be overwhelming for many. Goals are based on our values, beliefs and aspirations. When we are seeking to "decide" on the perfect New Year's resolution, shouldn't we be seeking to bring ourselves to the present? The present is where life is being lived. It is where the details are right in front of us. This is where the conversation with ourselves starts. A focus on the present prevents us from having unnecessary stress or anxiety when we worry about the future. A focus on the present also allows us to focus on our own value system to understand our goals. So, we can clearly make decisions that are thoughtfully chosen and in the best interest of ourselves. The world is moving at a faster pace. Life plays on, whether we are present or not. Learning to be present is a practice and not one we are taught.
The notion of prioritizing the present did not originate in American culture. The success of our country thrives on the very opposite. We tend to place an emphasis on prioritizing being busy, working harder, and doing more. We are a successful and well-developed country because of such habits, but does our success come at a price? Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways but has also altered our mental, emotional, physical, and social state with both positive and negative impacts. I will leave you to fill in the blanks of what this list would look like in your life. We all lead very busy lives; I would like to challenge you to be in the present. It requires no planning. It is a free activity that you can do alone or with your family. Focus your energy on the moments right in front of you. This is what we call Mindfulness. This practice is something that is a lifelong pursuit, and everyone can do it.
Mindfulness focuses on what truly matters to you. It is your thoughts and willingness to intend to be present in every moment with an open mind free of judgment or expectations of yourself or others. Being mindful does require energy, focus and practice. A barrier to mindfulness is another topic – our self-talk. Do you know how to talk to yourself? Self-talk is a learned behavior that we develop and has been there your entire life! The conversation you have with yourself happens without you even being aware. It will enhance or derail you and you may never realize it. Medicine has delineated exactly what and how we think on any given day. We have learned that the human brain entertains somewhere between 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day. The reality is that 80% of those thoughts are unfortunately negative. Of these negative thoughts, 95% are on a continuous loop that plays over and over in your brain. These negative thoughts are unhealthy beliefs that may drive our decision-making or behaviors. To redirect negative self-talk the goal is to practice mindfulness of your present moment and recognize your own dialogue. Negative self-talk can be reframed and you can develop the ability to shift your thoughts from one extreme to the other.
In the end, New Year's resolutions and goal setting are learned behaviors. Each serves to mold and shape our pursuits. In the world of health and wellness, we argue that the true secret is to know yourself best and be mindful of your thoughts, surroundings, and the journey you must travel. You are the goal in your health and wellness. The key is to understand this is a journey without a destination and therefore is this practice. The journey may not be the one you anticipated to reach your goal it may take a different path.
At Magnolia Place, we see our patients and their families in full view. We recognize mind, body, spirit, and community are where women and their families thrive. We help patients see the power of being passionate in their goals and to listen intently and completely to the world around you. Through mindfulness and self-talk anything is possible when you seek to resolve and practice in a way that is realistic, enjoyable, and natural, because it is YOUR plan. The Magnolia Place model of integrated health and wellness seek to walk this journey of life with you as your advocate. We create a pathway to guide you in your present moment that may be full of choices and opportunities. This may carry you through a difficult life circumstance, health condition, or relationship, but will also bring peace where we hope the mind and heart see the same. We invite you to start a conversation with yourself and open your mind to what is to come. Find a safe haven to define and practice what is most important to you. The answer to your health and wellness needs are found in your ability to be in the present moment as you deserve to be there. It is where the magic happens.