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Rethinking the way we make New Year’s resolutions

Happy New Year everyone. It’s that time of the year where we all write the wrong date on every document, finally step back on the scale, and then immediately make a New Year’s resolution to lose the weight.

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I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve gone on rants about them in the past, and I’ll spare you the venom this year. I still believe that a better way to approach change in your life is to start small and adopt an iteration mindset.

If you said, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds and go to the gym every day this year,” most likely you’ve already failed. However if you said, “instead of eating the whole pizza, I’m going to eat half the pizza,”

Or, “I’m taking the stairs up to the third floor instead of the elevator.”

With either of those, odds are you will start to see some success. Those specific iterations are things you can build on.

So what am I adding to my life? What thing am I going to focus to resolve? By the way, the definition of resolve is to “decide firmly on a course of action.”

The thing I decided to look at came after Don called me out on my road rage. We had fun with it on the air, but I thought about it and stumbled upon a solution from a new book I’m reading.

The former Chief Business Officer of Google X, Mo Gawdat, wrote a book called “Solve for Happy” last year. It’s an engineer’s approach to happiness and joy. I highly recommend it. Especially for the simple technique I’m about to share.

He spends quite a bit of time exploring how our brains evolved and how our brains work. There’s too much info to explain here, but the thing that has helped me with my road rage is very simple. Mo has a technique when your mind is going down a rabbit hole like road rage to interrupt that moment and say to yourself, “Brain, bring me a better thought.”

It sounds simple, naive even, but it’s actually been working for me.

I nearly got into a three car pile-up with a semi on I-5 because of the horrible driving of someone changing lanes at highway speed without looking. My heart was racing, and I started to go into that familiar rage. In many ways, I could justify my anger. This driver’s negligence nearly caused a huge, potentially fatal car crash.

But I remembered this new mantra. I interrupted my anger and literally said out loud in the car, “Brain, bring me a better thought.”

That’s all it took. I began to think of reasons why this person drove that way.

Maybe they were distracted by a phone call, we’ve all done that.

Or perhaps they were deep in thought about a sick family member.

They even innocently could have not see me in their blind spot.

It really didn’t matter what the actual reason is, simply by telling my brain to bring me a better thought I was able to lower my blood pressure and not have that ruin my day.

I’ve since been using this even when I’m not driving. When I catch myself spiraling into negative or critical self-talk, I interrupt it and say, “Brain, bring me a better thought.”

That’s my New Year’s Iteration.

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