The infancy of a new year is often a time when we have take a long hard look at ourselves and vow to change all the bad habits we have accumulated over the past year.
It all starts well, January rolls in and we leap out of bed at 6am, hit the gym followed by a breakfast comprising of some odd looking drink which resembles pond water yet claims to purify our bodies. We then spend the rest of the day resisting all temptation in favour of all things righteous, only to do it all again the next day and the next. I don’t know about you but being able to sustain this way of living and actually enjoy life seems decidedly unenjoyable.
The fact that nearly half of new gym members stop going within six months of joining would lead us to think that the majority of people agree.
One theory as to why so many people are unable to uphold these new behavioural patterns is because they’re simply not compatible or realistic for everyday life. Let's take our current theme of improving health and wellbeing. Choosing to go on a brisk walk in nature with a good friend, getting out in the garden or going for a cycle ride could be a more effective way of engaging our bodies. The great thing about this option is it's a whole lot easier to integrate a walk into the day than committing to the gym. The physical benefits are just as good and it could be argued the mental wellbeing element is far more effective than just walking on a moving conveyor belt staring at a screen.
However the biggest winner here is that it's something we can realistically do on a consistent basis and that we actually enjoy. Therefore choosing to participate in an activity rather than just doing exercise could be a far more effective way of creating long term change, plus it's more fun. Obviously the gym has got it's place and works for some people, but for those of us who seek alternatives, choosing to do an activity that we don’t find a chore might be a more effective option for positive health benefits.
Another attribute we can look at for consistent change is the little voice inside us. The one when we look in the mirror that says what we do and who we are is either worthwhile or not. Our internal dialogue is probably the most powerful asset we have, so it would make sense to get that little monkey on our side. Like the majority of people, I can go down the rabbit hole of berating myself for not living up to some ideal existence. Oscar Wilde said “ I can resist everything apart from temptation” a view which I can relate to quite well, as probably can the majority of us on some level. However instead of giving ourselves a stern talking to when we can’t get to the gym five mornings a week or opt for a freshly baked croissant instead of a shot of wheatgrass, perhaps we could practise a little self kindness.
Searching through some phrases before writing this I came across the words "I am enough" which is the title of a Children’s book by Grace Byers. These three little words can be incredibly liberating in breaking the loop of negative self talk. The additional benefit is that by being kind to ourselves we begin to improve our sense of self worth which in turn helps us choose more positive ways to live our lives.
And so incorporating more activity and less exercise into daily life and practising internal self kindness we can perhaps give ourselves the chance to live a more contented existence, one where we’re not disappointed by our failure but where we celebrate our existence and be fully satisfied with the fact that "I am enough'