The start of a new year always makes me think about what was good about last year, and what I would like to leave behind. And it gets me excited about a brand new shiny year ahead full of possibilities and unknown adventures! I am not such a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, because as my teen said to me last night, “Why do resolutions happen only at the New Year? I mean, maybe if February I think of something I want to tackle?” She’s got a good point, and tons of people make Resolutions every New Year only to give up a week or two later.
One of our traditions on New Year’s Eve is that at midnight we float messages about what we want to leave in the old year and what our wishes are for the new one. Not really resolutions, necessarily, but a nice way to let go of stuff that is dragging you down. Today seemed like a good day to share some ideas about things to keep and things to let go of as 2018 gets under way. Maybe one or two of these will inspire you!
Starting each day thinking about 3 things you are thankful for, or pausing when you feel negativity and stress ratcheting up, can really shift your mindset. I recently read that there is actual evidence that you cannot feel thankful (truly thankful) and stressed at the same time. Life is short and full of good things, but often we let the more negative things eclipse the bright spots. So, what types of things? Maybe you’re just thankful you survived a hard test, or that you have a dog that loves you, or that you have one incredible friend that you know you can go to for anything.
For me, I am hoping to read one book a month. I hope that peels me away from those screens that are so hard for us to look away from! Right now I am in the middle of this book: So I guess I have a head-start for January!
I love this one. My son made a point of doing this a few years ago because he realized that he was missing out on new experiences / people / foods / ideas that he might actually like. Often we have a knee-jerk reaction that we assume we won’t like something new. Maybe we won’t, but the flip side is worth taking that risk!
This can mean different things to different people. A few examples – if you see someone being bullied at school, don’t stand by and do nothing. Even just saying “Hey, that’s not cool” can go a long way to stopping bullying in your school. A lot of research has been done about effective anti-bullying tactics, and some of the most effective is when students don’t stand by when they see bullying happen. What about cyber-bullying? If you see it, you can call it out or unfriend the bully. Or you can block them from your social media or phone. This year, block anyone that bullies you online and encourage your friends to do the same. Bullying not an issue? If there is a cause that you feel isn’t being addressed, speak up! Propose a solution! Make your voice heard! This can be at school or in your community. Old enough to vote? Register to vote and make sure to vote in every 2018 election you can. We have seen a lot of elections determined by a single vote.
We all get frustrated with ourselves sometimes, but often we treat ourselves more harshly than we would a friend who made the same mistake or failed at a similar challenge. When you feel really negative on yourself make a point to change how you “talk” to yourself from these negative thoughts (“I am so fat” or “I hate myself” or “How can I be so stupid?” or “I will never get in to college with a C on that test”, etc”) to how you would talk to a friend (“Beauty is not related to a size – let’s get some exercise; it will make us feel better” or “Hey, you may hate that you did this/that/or the other thing but you don’t hate yourself!” or “OK, that was a mistake, but learn from it and move on” or “It’s one grade, and there are a million colleges out there. Happiness isn’t related to getting into any specific college!”, etc.)
Simply put, friendships should make you happier on more days than they make you sad. All friends disagree or might hurt your feelings at one time or another. But, if you have a “friend” that makes you feel bad about yourself, or feel like they are doing you a favor being your “Friend” or that always makes time for other people and not you, let them go. If you have a friend that is important to you and they hurt your feelings, or you messed up, TALK to them! A good conversation clears up misunderstandings and adds strength to a friendship. And by TALK, I mean call them or talk face to face. No texting doesn’t count! You need to read their face to understand their emotions (and vice versa), and you don’t want secret screen shots of your conversation to be a worry. Yes, you will be nervous, but yes, it will be worth it.
Short version: Move each day. Give your body the nutrients it needs. Get enough (but not too much) sleep. You will feel better. Promise.
Long version: Pouring poison into your body (drugs, alcohol, junk food) isn’t showing that body of yours any love! Sitting around fiddling with your phone or watching YouTube every spare minute isn’t showing your body love. There is a time for treats and a time for blobbing around. But keep those things special! Not regular occurrences. You will enjoy them more when you do have them, but every other day, your body will hum along feeling better – better sleep, more energy, stronger muscles, better skin, better moods, better stress management.
One of the best things we can all do is to realize that often other people’s moods and reactions actually have little to do with us – if it even has anything at all to do with us. What do I mean exactly?
You are walking down the hall at school and a friend looks at you and then looks away as they walk by.
- 2017 You: OMG! How rude. Did I offend them? Do they still like me? Are we still friends?
- 2018 You: Huh, that’s weird. Maybe they have something on their mind. I know they are stressed about midterms.
You Snap your significant other. You see they opened it. But nothing. No reply. Silence.
- 2017 You: OMG what is going on? They must hate me! Are they hanging out with their friends? Why aren’t they replying? Seriously, it has been like 15 minutes.
- 2018 You: (no reaction). Oh, they must be doing homework or having dinner with their family. Or their mother told them to PUT DOWN THAT PHONE (I know, it happens). Or at practice. Or their battery might have died. Or they are trying to think up something super cute to reply with.
Teammate rude at practice? Maybe it has nothing to do with you. Maybe they had a bad day, got in a fight with their parents, hurt themselves, failed a test.
You get the idea. Teens have a lot of stuff going on. Very often, none of it has anything to do with you. So don’t assume the worst and stress yourself out. And, no, not everyone is going to like you. But, as an old friend of mine told me, she realized long ago that she was okay with that, since there were a lot of people she didn’t like either! It’s all about chemistry and common interests, not about your value as a person.
One last thought – someone out there looks up to you or looks to you as an example. Maybe that is an underclassman, or a little sister, or a JV teammate. It could just be someone that knows who you are at school and admires you for one of your gifts or characteristics. So, knowing that, act like the role model you are. Or, as I say, “Lead by Example”. We all know positive role models > negative ones, and someone out there looks up to you and you may not even be aware!!!
With that, go into 2018 and have a great year. It will have happy days and sad days, fun days and totally un-fun days. But make it your own. I am here with you to help you make it better.
Happy New Year!