The power of positive reflection
Often when reflecting on the passing of another year, we focus in on the negative things. That fender bender in April. The summer cold you caught from your kid. Even a bad haircut or a fitness hiatus can send us into a whirlwind of negative emotions and apathy about the future.
Other, more significant life changes, like divorce, a death of a family member, friend or colleague, for example, can leave us questioning the value of our lives.
It's not all doom and gloom
Instead of thinking life "can't get any worse," the BCBSND Wellness team, in collaboration with our HealthyBlue MeYouHealth® pilot program (a BCBSND online member wellness program), challenges you to think about some of the things in 2016 that went well.
Take action with reflection
You don't have to be an avid journal writer or blogger to look back on all the events, activities and people you encountered in 2016. All it takes is a few simple prompts provided by MeYouHealth's Daily Challenge®, which include the following:
- Name two life or work challenges that improved your outlook
- List three traits of someone you admire
- Get one step closer to a hobby, interest or cause that intrigues you
- Examine the people, places and things that make life better
Map your challenges and find the silver lining
When you are deliberate about finding the positive in bad situations, messengers in your brain start to relate that experience as a "learning moment" and as a "silver lining" in what was once considered a terrible ordeal.
Set yourself down with a pen and notebook at your favorite coffee shop or a cozy spot in your home. Start by asking yourself the following:
- "What are a few memorable challenges I conquered in 2016?"
- "How did I overcome those challenges?"
- "How did these experiences create positive change in my life?"
- "What have I learned about my experiences and how has it made my life better?"
List three traits of someone you admire
He or she could be a personal trainer, a religious leader or even a young child. No matter who you admire, you admire that person for specific attributes.
Imagine you are that person you admire and think about the three reasons they are special to you. Then ask yourself:
- "What would they do if they were challenged with some of the bad stuff that happened to me in 2016?"
- "How can I try to adopt some of those attributes in my own life to make negative situations more tolerable?"
It's time to explore new passions, hobbies and interests – but take your time! Set up a knitting group or join a classic car club. Just registering for activities and committing to trying things out will improve your life experience, enhance your capacity for learning, and expand your list of new mentors, acquaintances and friends.
Happiness in three phrases
Happiness is heart-healthy. Give yourself some time to reflect on what makes you feel like life is wonderful (because it is). Is it sleeping in on Sundays? Going on a road trip? Calling a long-distance family member or friend?
Get out that notebook one more time and list three key phrases, experiences or just words that describe what makes you happy. Notice how you feel when you put those emotions and experiences down on paper. You should feel more content, happier and have a greater outlook on what's to come in 2017. And, if research is right, you likely dropped your blood pressure a few points, too!
Happy New Year!