For the New Year: Resolve to Practice Positive Self-Care!

As the holidays come to a close, many of us set goals or intentions, resolving to do something—or many things—better or different in the coming year. Often this practice is simply a course-correction after the holiday indulgences. Sometimes, however, these goals or resolutions are broken or forgotten by February—perhaps with feelings of shame or embarrassment as a result.

This year, instead of striving to become a better version of yourself, why not consider reducing your Cultural Stress by resolving to accept yourself just as you are? This doesn’t mean resolving not to grow or change, but instead, realizing that life is a process that inevitably involves change and growth, so why not relax and enjoy it? Although you may never be a perfect human by anyone else’s criteria, you will inevitably be a perfect version of your own unique self!

Here are my resolutions for 2020. Try them on and see if they might work for you!

Treat yourself like royalty! Instead of waking up each morning, worrying about what someone else might think or ask of me, I make a habit of asking myself, “Howard, what would make you happy today?” Usually, just asking the question can bring a smile to my face. And, surprisingly, it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. Eating well, engaging in exercise I enjoy, and doing work I love, with and for people I care about, leads to a rich and satisfying life…every day!

Embrace your inner toddler! By staying in close communication with the child in me who is unafraid to take risks, eager to learn new things, and unapologetically willing to feel and express life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—I’m free to do the same. My wife, Loralee, sometimes says, “You’re not afraid of being embarrassed.” Why should I be? I know that it’s OK to make mistakes. After all, that’s how we learn. Of course, I do have adult cares and responsibilities, but they don’t feel heavy or burdensome, any more than learning to walk or talk did when I was a toddler.

Stay hydrated. Hydration is the key to cell health—and cells, of course, are what our bodies are made of. So I eat my water—through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that keep the water from running right through me. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and embryonic foods—like eggs, seeds, and nuts—also help build strong cell membranes, which keep the water inside the cells. I also move my body to build and maintain muscle—which holds far more water than fat. Plus, exercise reduces stress and feels good: I walk, dance, hike, and swim. Why do it if I don’t like it? Finally, I moisturize and protect my skin, which is my body’s first line of defense against a drying and polluted environment.

Be imperfect; live longer! In all of these things, I don’t demand perfection of myself. Instead, I adopt the 80/20 rule. If I follow my healthy eating and exercise plan 80% of the time, I allow myself the freedom to stray from it 20% of the time. If I forget to put myself first or to be as light-hearted as a toddler, I forgive myself and start over. After all, life is a journey, not a destination. The point is not to achieve some arbitrary standard of perfection but to experience, learn, and grow. I strive for excellence, not perfection. This philosophy keeps me happy, and when you’re happy, you’re beautiful.

To your happiness and health in 2020!

(For more on the benefits of imperfection, read my little book!)


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