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It is that time of year. Having fudged or forgotten our New Year’s Resolutions from the previous year, we open up our spiffy new planners and list the same idealistic goals all over again.
It’s amazing how we Americans spend our lives making new goals each January (with the enthusiasm of a child in a Superman cape), but tend to lose interest in actually keeping those goals by somewhere around Groundhog Day.
In our new book, "Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full-Night’s Sleep," my daughter Rachel and I spent a year contemplating, researching and trying to live more nourished lives.
We began by looking at the top 10 everyday stressors that put a kink in our joy and a drag in our step. To our surprise, the real challenge was not figuring out what changes we needed to make to live happier, healthier lives. The problem was how to motivate ourselves to actually implement those changes and make them stick.
Enter something we came to call Nourishing Compromises.
Rachel and I found that some of the most instantly freeing changes we made had nothing to do with a physical plan of action. Instead, they were decisions to simply shift our perspective, reframe a frustrating situation, or mentally minimize the impact some toxic person had on our life.
It involved nothing more than transforming our thoughts.
In fact, once we got our heads in a better place, we often discovered that nothing more was needed.
Maybe you don’t need a new job, but a fresh attitude.
Maybe you don’t need to lose 20 pounds, you just need to love the body you are in and see it as sexy and gorgeous AS IS.
It wasn’t long before we realized we emphasized our Outer Bucket List—the ones that eat away at time we don’t have—over our Inner Bucket List much too often. A miracle shift in perspective can often bring instant inner peace without changing another thing.
Most of the time, however, nourishing change involves a compromise of both: a little shift in perspective and a little action. A change of attitude can keep you happy at your current job while still searching for a career that is a better, more enjoyable fit.
Love and embrace your body as is, see it as womanly and beautiful, curvy or voluptuous. Then treat it with healthy food and enjoyable exercise and maybe lose three or four pounds—and that could be all you need to feel happy in your own skin.
Rather than getting up an hour early to pray, perhaps you could turn your commute into time to commune with God.
Imagine two good friends, one named Loving Acceptance and one named Take Action, walking toward each other, meeting half way between their two homes for a friendly cup of coffee and conversation.
This middle place is where most of the magic takes place. Where we cut ourselves a little mental slack, even as we work toward a doable goal. We meet ourselves in the middle, adjusting our attitude some, making some realistic tweaks.
What I love most about Nourishing Compromises vs. New Year Resolutions is that once you get the hang of it, you never have to put happiness on hold until some future goal is accomplished.
It’s time to rethink resolutions. Why not make a list of Nourishing Compromises this year instead? Not only do they lead to a more nourished life, but you’ll be much happier with yourself—both within and without—come January 2015.
Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph are co-authors of the new book, "Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep." (Zondervan, January 6, 2015). They blog, respectively, at www.laughcrycook.com and www.thenourishedmama.com.