Happy New Year!


2014 is already upon us, and all I can say is…WHAT happened to 2013? Wow, that went fast! Is it just me, or does time really seem to go by faster when you get older? I remember as a child that the lead-up to Christmas Day and all the excitement and anticipation seemed like an eternity, but now it goes by in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden, “Poof!” It’s a new year!

Of course, what would a New Year be without a resolution? If you’re like me, you probably view the New Year’s resolution with equal parts conviction (because this year, you’re REALLY going to do it!) and dread (because you know how hard it can be to live up to as time goes by). But take heart, because you CAN do it. You can take control of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Is it going to be easy? Probably not…but then, what worthy goal is ever easy to achieve?

There is so much focus on diet and exercise at the beginning of a new year. Not as much attention is paid to the emotional and spiritual well-being. But there are habits we can cultivate that will help us become more well-rounded individuals, healthy in mind, body, soul and spirit. Today I am sharing the Ten Habits for a Well-Rounded Person (referenced in the Healthy, Happy, and Free post) and which I’ll summarize below:

10 Healthy Habits for Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit

Healthy Habits for Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit

EAT:  Eat real food.

Resolve to eat healthy, natural foods like meats and green leafy vegetables ONLY when you’re hungry. Eliminate unnecessary snacking and grazing, and avoid processed foods. You really are what you eat, and when you eat quality foods, your body will react in kind.

MOVE:  Move your body.

Your local gym is littered with the spirits of broken New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions were broken mostly because the people who made them had unrealistic expectations. Regular exercise is important, but you don’t have to do hours of exhausting cardio-workouts to gain a benefit. Start slow, build strength, and increase your efforts over time. Take long walks, lift heavy weights with major muscle groups, and mix it up with bursts of strength and speed.

SLEEP:  Prioritize sleep.

The importance of regular, uninterrupted sleep cannot be overemphasized, Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and completing cognitive tasks compared to people who get adequate levels of sleep. Poor sleep has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, and a decreased sex drive. Do you need a full 8 hours each night? That’s hard to say; everyone is different. Some need more, while others can make do with less. The point is to feel refreshed when you wake up, and not groggy. And remember: TiVo! Sleep now, and watch Mad Men later!

PLAY:  Do something just for fun.

This also means different things for different people. Successful “play” is best described as kinetic meditation, and can be anything from a walk in the park to a swim in the ocean or a hike in the woods. Or, it can mean spending time doing your favorite hobby, like photography, sculpting, woodworking or curling up with a good book. What’s important is to put yourself into a place where you can leave your cares behind, if only for a little while, and let yourself recharge.

LEARN:  Learn something new everyday.

Our education never ends, and we are never too old to learn new things. As long as we are conscious, we are learning. Learning leads to experimentation, experience, confidence, and mastery. In fact, some research indicates that the more we learn, the smarter we become! We should take time to explore new ideas, tasks, goals, and experiences to enrich our lives, and even to serve others.

AVOID:  Avoid the negative.

We should make an effort to avoid – as much as possible – things that are upsetting or “ugly.” Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and it is not restricted to things. Most of us know people whose personalities and demeanors are difficult and unpleasant (“toxic” is a word often used today to describe such individuals.) Sometimes, as in the case of work, certain social situations, or even family, these encounters cannot be avoided, but they can be minimized. Toxic things and individuals can impair your ability to feel healthy. Find ways to protect your heart and mind by reducing exposure to negativity.

FOCUS:  Focus on the good and positive.

We are constantly bombarded by stimuli in our daily lives, and not all of it is positive. Even passive stimuli – such as what we hear or see on radio or TV, or on billboards and advertisements – can be negative, and even alarming. Like all things, our reaction to this stimuli will vary on an individual basis. Nonetheless, it is important to focus on things that are pleasing and beautiful. This will not only help to cleanse and refresh us, but it will remind of us the beauty of God’s world. Take time every day to enjoy something beautiful – read a poem, listen to uplifting music, enjoy works of art, find a way to encounter something amazing in nature. Remember Philippians 4:8 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

RETREAT:  Retreat into something to calm the mind and body.

Have you ever heard someone say, probably half-joking, to “find a happy place?” Well, we all need a happy place, a place we feel safe secure, and comfortable where we can reflect, restore, and recharge. Your happy place may be a park, a church building, the beach, or it may even be a person whose presence you deeply value. Regardless, take time to find and use that happy place when you need it.

PRAY:  Pray without ceasing.

If you’re a regular church-goer, chances are you’ve heard a sermon on the importance of prayer. It seems obvious, but it’s a lesson that needs to be heard because, paradoxically, it’s importance is often overlooked. God wants to hear from us; He created us, and He wants us to speak with Him, acknowledge His power, seek His help, and give Him thanks for all of our blessings. He understands that communion in prayer is beneficial because it helps us to understand that we are NOT alone, no matter how we may be feeling or what we may be experiencing. And praying “without ceasing” means approaching all things in your life in a prayerful, reverent manner, open to God’s direction.

LOVE:  Show love to God, others and to yourself.

We are loving people. It feels good to be loved, and it feels good to show love to others, and to God. God’s greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” When we approach a situation with love and compassion, everyone wins. Find a way, every day, to show love to others, to God and to yourself.

What will you be doing differently this year? What changes will you be making to improve your life?


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Healthy Habits for Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit