Well we’re a couple of weeks into 2021 and how are you doing on those new year’s resolutions? Have you kept up those new thoughts and habits that you’re hoping to become a permanent addition to your everyday? On a couple of fronts, I’m doing pretty well, but I may need a little boost in a couple of other areas. Truth be told!
I’ve got a couple of working ideas as to why it might be so tough to make those lasting lifestyle changes.
One working theory I have, is much like our daily/weekly ‘to do’ lists, our new year’s resolutions are too many and often have too wide a focus on behavioral change without looking at and/or changing the attitudes and thinking that may be central to causation. What if we could simplify the process?
Sandi and I have started a practice of choosing ‘one word’ as a way to focus our thinking and promoting positive changes throughout the year. This year Sandi has chosen the word perceive and here’s her context and thinking on why she chose the word, perceive.
“This has been a year of new beginnings and new endings. Both need to be acknowledged and celebrated or grieved. And to be honest it's been a year that it’s been hard to recognize what is and ending or what is a beginning. It's just where we are in this crazy COVID world.
I was reminded one day of the verse in Isaiah 43:19 ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not PERCEIVE, it?’ Then it hit me. That's my word for 2021. I KNOW God is at work all around us. My job, as his child, is to change my expectations about what I want him to do and lean in and listen to how he is working...therefore I perceive it.¹
My word isn’t that far from perceive as it’s the word present; as in being fully present. Living in this ‘culture of distraction’ with 24/7 news cycles, continuous calls, text messages, and information literally coming at us constantly; I’ve often pondered if being fully present in any conversation, meeting or interaction with others could really be a dying art. What if I was 100% fully present?
My inspiration comes from a scene in the 2009 DreamWorks Animation film, Kung Fu Panda. The passing scene begins with Po, a roly-poly Panda and the main character of the film, is talking with Master Oogway-- the ancient and wise Kung Fu Master. Master Oogway is listening to Po’s endless list of why he couldn’t be the chosen warrior, when Master Oogway says this simple phrase, “Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”²
That’s it. Today is a gift. Every encounter. Every interaction. To be fully present is truly a gift.
In my research on the practice of finding and using one word for your yearly focus, I’ve come across a wonderful resource that I think can be helpful. I’m actually ordering the book for Sandi/me ASAP. Author’s Mike Ashcroft and Rachel Olsen have written a timely book with helpful tools that will help you find and choose your one word.
“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond this cycle. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick One Word. This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future.³
I’ll have the link for One Word in the notes for you to peruse and order, as well!
Secondly, it could be that as a culture and society we’re simply too distracted.
It is not surprising that modern day life is often referred to as the "culture of distraction." We’re constantly bombarded with information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And yet, most of us cannot get enough. We channel surf, search the Web, talk and text, even drive and text, It’s no wonder we are driven to distraction.
The term "multi-tasking" originated in the computer engineering industry, and refers to the simultaneous execution of more than one program or task by a single computer processor. What we engage in is human multi-tasking -- the performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The operative word being appearing.
When you stop and think about it, the human brain is quite amazing. According to a study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, the average American consumes 34 gigs worth of information a day-- that's about 100,000 words. In our efforts to skim through volumes of information, we actually miss out on much by paying only partial attention.
For the most part, we simply can't focus on more than one thing at a time. What we can do is shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed. Switching from task to task, you actually think you're paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you're not."
Mindfulness involves bringing presence and attention to the task at hand. Multi-tasking involves dividing our attention among several tasks at the same time. When we focus on a task, switch our attention away and then return to the original task, it takes several minutes to refocus our attention to the level we were at initially. And when we do this repeatedly, we limit our productivity, sabotage our creativity and compromise the quality of what we do.⁴
For our weekly focus on the Mind, I’d like you to take this simple 10 question Quiz on Distraction:
How often do you do more than one thing at once? Take the test to find out.
Rating: Always, Frequently, Sometimes, Never
1. _____ I keep the television on in the background when I am not actively watching it.
2. _____ I have my cell phone on at all times.
3. _____ When I'm on the telephone, I often surf the Internet.
4. _____ When I'm watching television, I channel surf during commercials.
5. _____ When I'm out to lunch or dinner with others, I take non-emergency phone calls.
6. _____ I do a crossword puzzle, Sudoku or other activity while watching television or listening to music.
7. _____ I have to have the television on at night in order to fall asleep.
8. _____ I read the newspaper or other material while at stoplights or when sitting in traffic.
9. _____ I text message when I'm in the company of others.
10. _____ When I'm on the Internet, I frequently have three or more browser windows open.
So, how distracted are you? If you answered "always" or "frequently" to many of these questions, you may want to pull yourself out of the quagmire before you sink.
What can you do? First, identify which of the above you will commit to changing in order to be more present-moment oriented. What steps will you take to make those changes? Here are a few suggestions:
Limit checking your e-mail to three, 10-minute sessions each day
Turn off Facebook, Twitter and other personal social media sites when at work
Keep your cell phone away from the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.
And if you find that doing any of these suggestions makes you feel anxious, then really stop and think about that.⁴
As we continue our focus on Mind, Body and Spirit let’s look at this week’s Body focus. It’s no secret that with the new year comes a refocus on our diets and eating habits. In an article from the Cooper Institute, I found some timely advice for our dietary questions:
For 2021, a team of 24 nutrition experts including Registered Dietitians, physicians, and nutrition scientists rated the effectiveness of 39 different diets in the following areas: easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, and protective against diabetes and heart disease. Additional details regarding these areas can be found at the end of the blog. Each of the areas was rated on a scale of 1-5 stars. There were several different categories of best diets, including best diets overall, best weight loss diets, best commercial diets, best diets for healthy eating, best heart-healthy diets, best diets for diabetes, best plant-based diets, and easiest diets to follow.
In the best diets overall category, the Mediterranean Diet came out on top, followed closely by a tie for second place between Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) and the Flexitarian Diet. The Weight Watchers Diet finished third. In the best heart-healthy diets category, there was a 3-way tie for first place, with the Ornish Diet, Mediterranean Diet and DASH leading the pack. The Keto, AIP, Whole30, and the Dukan Diets brought up the rear in this category.⁵
Needless to say, Sandi & I are both beginning the Mediterranean Diet for 2021…and we’ll keep you posted on the progress and the hopeful & healthful results.
Lastly, as we think about the spirit this week, I’ve always been a believer in the power of inspiration & positivity. I love inspirational & positive quotes as they can inspire us to be a better, happier, and more productive person. I’m closing with a few quotes that are sure to bring a smile to your day!
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
—The Dalai Lama
“A positive attitude won’t solve all your problems—but it will annoy enough people to make it worth it.”
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
—E. M. Forster
“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”
“People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full are missing the point. The point is that the glass is refillable!”
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
“Today me will live in the moment. Unless it is unpleasant. In which case me will eat a cookie.”
“Not every day is good but there is something good in every day.”
—Alice Morse Earl
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
—Winnie the Pooh⁶
Remember at Conizo, we seek to be the leading innovator and provider of intergenerational experiences, resources, products and services because we believe that the wisdom of one generation can intersect with the hope of another.
We hope that you’ll stop by and peruse our online store as we have some wonderful offerings sure to help you live that well-lived life. A new feature this week is our Ask Dr. Andy link, with one of America’s leading Tele-Health experts and Conizo's own Dr. Andy Rosenson. He’ll be answering your weekly questions on living a healthy and wellness lifestyle.
Thanks for stopping by and remember…Live Life Well!
Sandi Patty Peslis, January 20, 2021
Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animation 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSBfcpqICvY
MY ONE WORD, http://myoneword.org/
How Distracted Are You? Take the Quiz, Rita Schiano, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-we-multi-task_b_997021
Rating the Diets: U.S. News and World Report and Annual Rankings, Steve Farrell, PhD, FACSM, https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2021/01/13/rating-the-diets-us-news-and-world-report-annual-rankings
The Healthy, 17 Short Inspirational Quotes That Will Make Your Day, Charlotte Hilton Andersen, https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/happiness/short-inspirational-quotes/