Dr. Dan Rosin (Jay Easterbrook)
"Change has a chemical effect on our bodies, charging it up, but also allowing us to psychologically feel in control. All this works on our self-esteem, one of the most important and powerful determinants influencing overall health."
—Dr. Dan Rosin, Author
New Year's resolutions. We all make 'em. We all break 'em. Everyone has the best intentions to change but after a few weeks (ahem - days) we inevitably fall back into old routines. We over eat, we stop finding the time to exercise, we work too much and we play too little.
According to Winnipeg therapist Dr. Dan Rosin, "before we can change our behaviour, we need to change our mind." He wrote a book last fall called Finding Balance: 101 concepts for Taking Better Care of Self.
We ask Dr. Rosin to share some top tips from his book that might help people to get more joy out of life.
1. Change: When starting the 'change process,' it is not what you stop doing that is most important, but rather what you start doing!
It seems that when people want to make changes in their lives, they generally start by wanting to eliminate a bad habit, such as overeating, drinking too much, or smoking. What they end up doing is concentrating on that which they are saying they could live without (i.e. the bad habit). I believe long-term success is best achieved by focusing on the actual behavior you want rather than what you don't want. For example, decide to establish a sensible eating plan as opposed to not eating sweets anymore. Start a fitness plan rather than focussing on stopping drinking and smoking.
It's true that stopping poor lifestyle habits is important. However, there is more to be gained if you first decide what you want to have happen. Start the positive process; then it will be easier to stop bad habits,permanently - if there is no vacuum to fill.
"If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting." (Wally Amos)
2. Good Stuff Journal: Quite different from ordinary journal writing is the kind where you write only about the good stuff in your life, hence the name good stuff journal. I often ask clients to record at the end of the day those things they did or said which indicate to them that they are on the right track to making good decisions about their health and taking care of themselves.
Too often what gets written in journals are traumatic events in daily lives, which have nothing to do with their health--certainly not positive health.
Don't deny positive events. Take time and energy to write about them. It's worth it. Let's emphasize only those things we want to continue to have happen. Let's write about the good stuff, stuff we feel good about. Recording and commenting about what we are doing is the first step toward seeing that behavior repeated.
"Taking care of yourself needs to be a lifelong commitment because you are probably going to live long enough to wish that you had." (inspired by Mark Twain)
3. Planned Spontaneity: Yes, planned spontaneity is an oxymoron. However, to a person with a "Type A" or "workaholic" type personality, planned spontaneity is key to unlocking and breaking the "work hard" cycle. Plan for fun. Plan to participate in a fun time and when you show up at the activity, you will most likely be more spontaneous.
I know this about most people--get them into an environment where others are enjoying themselves and having fun, and soon they will too. It is unproductive to try to teach people to have fun. Rather, get them to commit to attending potentially fun events and activities.
A plan is necessary so we will do things, get out to events, network with others, and visit exciting places. Spontaneous fun will then take care of itself. The plan will result in spontaneity.
If we better understood that fun and relaxation are absolutely essential for a healthy and well-balanced life, then we might allow ourselves more time to do those things. If we wait for the spontaneity to lead us to enjoyable times, we will remain starved. Instead, plan fun
like you plan work, and you might find yourself spontaneously breaking into a healthy laugh or whistle.
"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace." (Frederick Buechner)
4. Spice is a Necessity for a Balanced Lifestyle: The word "spice" was coined by Hans Selye to emphasize the necessity of having variety in our lives. Like Selye, I believe that to be physically and psychologically healthy, to be in balance, an individual needs to be open to a variety of activities and experiences.
From Selye, I understand that spice or variety is the relief the body needs from sameness. We interpret difference as excitement and aliveness, and we feel more worthwhile and more in charge of our lives.
Change has a chemical effect on our bodies, charging it up, but also allowing us to psychologically feel in control. All this works on our self-esteem, one of the most important and powerful determinants influencing overall health.
It's possible that you've been caught up in the work-all-day and work/sit-all-evening way of life. Maybe its time to examine options that include more variety and spice.
Sometimes overwork is not the killer, but boredom and relentless routine can be.
Listen to Dr. Dan Rosin's interview with Ismaila Alfa on the Weekend Morning Show Sunday January 15, 8:15 a.m.
This content is provided by Dr. Dan Rosin. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.