Making meaningful resolutions for ourselves

Right about now you’ll be hearing all about New Year’s Resolutions. So what’s a resolution? It’s a firm decision to do or not to do something. Interestingly, it is also the solving of a problem. There’s a connection. The key word in resolution is solution. Most people make their resolutions with the idea of solving a problem or making something better.

It can target any one of our bodies: physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Physically I may resolve that this year I will learn to drive, or surf, or cook, or overcome an addiction or a fear of heights. I may choose these because I believe that my life will be better if I do this. Many resolutions are made with the physical body in mind because we can actually do something tangible about it. Although it is important that all our bodies get good food, rest and exercise.

Some good news is that it takes about 21 days to make or break a habit. That’s a drop in the bucket as far as a lifetime is concerned, and actually you may find that you want to continue your new behavior before the 21 day time. One year, in spring by the way, I resolved to lose a little weight and improve balance and strength in my body. I started doing some floor exercises, and within about 5 days I was really looking forward to them. In another few days, I felt like I was missing something if I didn’t do them. I found out that I slept better too, and a healthy body needs adequate rest.

According to a Stanford University study, it was found that “teenagers require more sleep, by 1 to 2 hours than 9-10 year olds.” They need about 9 ½ hours of sleep a night. http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/teensandsleep/a/teenssleepwell.htm

The benefit of getting the physical body healthier is that it affects the mind and emotions too. I found I was thinking clearer. I have friends that would love to do some activities with others, but can’t because of their weight, and they feel lonely and get sad. But this can change! The “Biggest Loser” has made such a difference in helping people come to terms with how they want to look and feel. We’ve seen the results of commitment and hard work. The biggest losers are the winners, and every one of them is always appreciative for learning a new way to be.

There are two Kauai Athletic Clubs on the island that provide personal trainers for a fee. That was how I learned my floor exercises. I Googled and saw that there is a Poipu Athletic Club too, and two Crossfits.

A friend of mine is visibly losing weight. All she has done is cut out sugar and wheat from her diet and walk about a half hour every day. But there are all manner of diets you can choose from. Find a friend who has physically transformed him/herself and find out what he or she did, and see if it appeals to you. You can Google it as well.

Now when you Google diets, you’ll find that there are diets that are good for everything from healing cancer to cleansing different organs, to preventing Alzheimers’s. Diets affect the mind as well as the body, but the mind requires its own kind of food and exercise too.

Mentally we want to be able to be focused, clear, and able to remember things We want to be able to hold our own in conversations, and problem-solve. We want to be able to learn new things easily. If you need improvement here, I found a helpful website at http://www.wikihow.com/Increase-Mental-Strength

Here are the mental diet and exercises it recommends:

w Read a variety of things you enjoy.

w Try to learn something new every week. I also heard “do something new every day”, even if it is just trying out a new recipe, store, game, or vocabulary.

w Socialize more. This helps us be smart in social settings. Learn manners, and what’s expected where. Try different groups, teams or clubs. People are a great source of ideas and stimulate interesting conversation.

w Challenge yourself by trying something that you’re not sure you’ll be able to pull off. But be safe.

w Be consistent with mental exercise daily, even if just doing a crossword puzzle or a sudoku.

w For improving concentration do one thing at a time. Studies have shown that multi-tasking can make us poor students, workers, and less efficient learners. Prioritize the most important thing, and finish it before going onto the next.

w Take short breaks more frequently. You have to give your mind a break every now and then. Let your brain have time to rest and refresh.

w Get rid of distractions. Your mind records everything! Focusing on the task alone will allow you to finish it sooner, and then you can do what you want to do without stress.

w Stay in the present. When you find yourself thinking about the past or present, think, “Be here now,” or some other phrase that helps you.

w Attitude is important. Go into each task assuming you will be successful. Visualize yourself succeeding.

w Stay calm and positive, letting go of petty judgmental thoughts. Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on improving yourself, not winning.

w Assume the best intentions of others. Don’t go looking for something to make you angry or frustrated. Delete drama from your life. Don’t spread gossip. Do your best.

w Listen to Baroque Music: J.S. Bach, Purcell, Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Handel etc. Recent studies show that baroque music has the amazing ability to attain a state of deep concentration and focus by preparing alpha brain state in the mind.

w Take some time to empty your mind of thoughts or thinking. This can be really challenging. Some people focus on their breath going in and out. I went to the beach and watched the waves. When a thought comes in, just let it go. Stay unattached.

w Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and enough sleep! Lack of sleep can lead to difficulty remembering things.

I will continue with the creation of emotional and spiritual health next month, but I did want to leave some general guidelines for helpful resolutions.

Follow the Golden Rule of “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Matt. 7:12. Trust me that this exists in the other eleven of the major world religions, including Islam, which states, “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 72). The world expressing this alone would lead us to peace.

Another helpful guideline I’ve found is the Buddhist 8 Fold Path: greatly simplified here:

w Right view or understanding of the nature of reality.

w Right thoughts and attitudes of acting from love and compassion.

w Right speech, clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful communication.

w Right action: life based on the principle of non-exploitation of oneself and others.

w Right livelihood: a livelihood based on correct action and non-exploitation.

w Right effort or diligence: Consciously directing our life energy to the transformative path of creative and healing action that fosters wholeness. Conscious evolution.

w Right mindfulness: Paying attention and developing awareness of your thoughts feelings, others and Reality.

w Full Samadhi: this would mean developing the mind to the point where it was able to fix on one point, eventually leading to enlightenment.

I’ll close now with a quotation that Dr. John Lydgate wanted me to share from his minister grandfather, also John Lydgate for whom Lydgate Park was named. It was in response to last week’s article about loving and forgiveness. “You can hate the sins, but love the sinner.” In other words, the sinner is a creation of God, and therefore still holy even in the state of forgetfulness that causes him to sin, or err. Hopefully the sinner can be retaught, forgiven, and get back to expressing his true nature.

Happy New Year! May it be a meaningful one for you. And if at some point you don’t like the way it’s going, re-read this, and get back on track. The track is always there.

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Questions?

Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, please go to www.haleopio.org

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