Regardless of when, where, and how you mark the changing of the years, if your goal is greater personal health and well-being, I’d like you to pay special attention to the next New Year holiday, when and whenever it comes.
Calendar systems and New Year rituals vary considerably around the globe, but there are certain things most of us would agree on. Most of us would agree that our earth makes a pass around the sun each 365 days or so, and at some point in this path is a recurring milestone that is the basis of our New Year. This milestone is near the winter solstice for many people, but not for everyone, especially people who live south of the equator.
We might also agree that the holidays can be a time of excess and unhealthy living, just as they can be a time for special closeness and celebration with family and friends. Many of us would agree that the New Year is also a time for personal reflection too, and can be a time full of hope, pride, and regret.
There is an aspect of the New Year holiday that will prove more controversial, an area where I know we might not agree, at least initially. But this is a topic I hope to convince you on and make you think differently in the next few minutes. My proposal is that the New Year, and especially the first thirty days of each new year, is critically important to your life and your health.
The idea that the New Year holiday is an important time for new beginnings is, of course, not new. Each New Year, across many cultures and calendars, millions of personal resolutions are made by people like you and me: to eat better, to exercise more regularly, to stop bad habits, to start good ones, to be kinder, to be more pragmatic, to do more and to be more.
Rivaling this enormous number of personal resolutions made each year, as we all know all too well, is the vast number of resolutions that are never kept. Perhaps this fact has left you jaded about New Year celebrations, and personal resolutions, and new beginnings and new years, and days and dawns and discovery. Again, I hope to change all that, but my appeal will be quite pragmatic.
In point of fact, if our New Year’s resolutions were better kept, if resolutions were a more reliable vehicle for growth and change, our world would be a far better place, wouldn’t it? We would be stronger and fitter, more upright and focused, and more compassionate and understanding. There would be less drug use, less obesity, and less litter and less graffiti. Hope must truly spring eternal, as it is said, or else this poor track record of personal resolutions would have long caught up with us, and resolution-making would now be banished from our New Year’s rituals (instead of accepted with a mixture of goodwill and skepticism).
As I said before, if your goal is to break through to new levels of personal health and well-being, I want to propose that you pay very close attention to the next New Year, but also one other thing: that you not make any New Year’s resolutions, none at all, or at least none for the first thirty days of the year. Given the typical track record for resolutions, yours and mine, this hardly seems too great of an imposition.
Instead of making personal resolutions, I want you to use the first thirty days of this new year very differently. In fact, for the first thirty days, I want you to do just one thing. I’d like you to use this time to conduct a personal experiment and exploration of your health. Are you adventurous enough for this? If you are, it may be a hopeful sign for you and your health, an indication that you are ready to progress and that higher levels of health and vitality are waiting for you in the near term.
The thirty-day experiment I have in mind is actually a very simple one. The experiment is simply for you to live without your most significant health impediment for the next thirty days. We may have many health impediments but we all have a top impediment to our health and well-being, even people who are fit and healthy in general. You can probably think of your top health impediment right away, but it’s alright if you need a minute to decide what issue is most pressing, what behavior or pattern in your life is your biggest obstacle to new health.
There is an article in the HumanaNatura library called “Drop & Give Us Thirty,” and this title is exactly what I am asking from you. For the next thirty days, I’d like you to focus your attention on the one thing that most compromises your health – and for you to drop it, absolutely and completely, for this period of time, and to feel comfortable doing nothing else in the direction of your health or resembling personal resolutions.
For many people, this biggest health impediment may be in the way they eat, as diet is so often our first and most significant obstacle to improved health. Without a correct diet, in fact, higher levels of health are nearly impossible to achieve or sustain. An hour of exercise can be undone by a few minutes of unnatural eating. This is not to say that a natural diet is not all that is required to be healthy, but it is the beginning of health, a crucial step, and the foundation of all higher states of human wellness.
If you are not yet following the HumanaNatura diet completely, I would like you to consider doing just that for the next thirty days. After the thirty days, you can decide for yourself what to do next and what to eat next.
Should you accept my challenge to change your diet, I’d ask only that you follow the diet program 100%, that you absolutely avoid all foods not on HumanaNatura’s list of natural foods (it’s easier than it might seem at first), and that you get your physician’s permission to eat this way – which is always sensible when you make health-related changes in your life.
If you already follow the HumanaNatura diet program, or if your top health impediment is not in the way you eat, then you should do the same thing: drop and give us thirty. Live without your number one health impediment in your life for the next thirty days. After that time, you can decide what you want to do, or not do, next.
In your case, perhaps you need to walk more or more frequently, to lengthen or deepen your calisthenics, to live without stress and frustration, to move beyond a specific health-limiting habit, or to stop procrastinating in a step toward a new health-enhancing one. Perhaps your top health impediment is emotional or interpersonal, a well-worn pattern in the way you behave or react that you know you need to change. If one of your health impediments involves recreational drug use, you may well want to start here, instead of with diet or exercise, since drugs can be so destructive to our health and natural outlook on life.
Whatever health impediment you decide to live without for thirty days, I would ask the same thing of you as people experimenting with the HumanaNatura diet – I want you to drop & give us thirty. I want you to drop the health impediment and live 100% without it in your life, or 100% with the healthy new behavior, for the next thirty days. After that, you too can decide what’s next.
My thirty-day challenge is of course a practical technique. It is intended to move you quickly to a higher state of health, early in the new year, and to create confidence and momentum for still more progress during the year ahead. The technique relies on at least two important facts about all of us and our health at each New Year holiday.
The first fact is that the holiday season can be a terrible time for our health, often re-awakening unhealthy habits that can linger on in our lives for many weeks and even months after the holidays are over. By challenging you to face into your health for the first thirty days of the year, it is much more likely you will counter any negative holiday inertia and set yourself up for a quick breakthrough and then sustained progress in the year ahead.
As important is a second fact of our health. Like other big projects, taking on one health impediment at a time can be extraordinarily powerful. It can make change more manageable, keep us from feeling unfocused and overwhelmed, and actually allow us to progress more rapidly than if we take on too much. Successfully changing one thing builds confidence in our ability to change and makes additional changes easier and even welcomed. It is like using stepping stones to cross a river.
As we tackle our most important health impediments in this way, we may find that secondary impediments naturally disappear on their own or without much effort on our part. And then, that we have created the conditions for cascading and transformative improvements in our health, which may happen suddenly and unexpectedly. All this through the simple process of taking on one impediment at a time, and by making each individual change stick. In thirty days, dramatic improvements in our health are achievable through the simple power of focus. And many one-at-a-time changes can take just hours or minutes to implement, and days to establish as our new personal pattern, but can last and remake the rest of our lives.
With these ideas in mind, I’ll finish by again challenging you not to make any resolutions for the first thirty days of the next new year, but instead simply to go face-to-face with the single most important health challenge in your life. I make this challenge to you in the spirit of exploration, with the prospect of pain and learning and self-discovery, and with the hope that you will meet the challenge and create new pleasure with focus and persistence. Then, you can assess what immediate and lasting changes and lessons this experiment in your health has brought to your life.
After the first thirty days of the new year, my challenge to you will be over and you will be free to do what you want for the balance of the year. You can make as many resolutions as you want, and then break them all, if this is really what is in your heart. You can even go back living the way you lived late last year, before my challenge and with your familiar impediment again, if this is what you want.
But perhaps you will choose to continue to live in your new way, with your new level of health and without the impediment, after the thirty days have passed. Maybe you will even move on to face another impediment to health and vitality in your life, in the thirty days that follow the first thirty of the year.
Perhaps you will learn, or be reminded, of the tremendous power that lies in a strategy of tackling key issues one at a time, in single file and thoroughly, before moving on and instead of taking on too much, and of the enormous compounding effects this can have in our lives over time. Long journeys are always made of single steps.
So, for the first month of the new year, or simply in the next month if the new year is still months away, what are you willing to drop and give us thirty? Or more correctly, what are you willing rise to and give yourself thirty?
Mark Lundegren is the founder of HumanaNatura.
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