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The myth of "New Year, New You"

At the strike of midnight on the last day of each year, we look forward to tomorrow with the hope of building a "New Me". We set out resolutions that get put aside as quickly as we imagined them. We say to ourselves that we will exercise more, eat better, meditate more or shop less. Unfortunately for us, our brains are hard-wired to take the path of least resistance in its daily journey. This means that when you wake the next day, you will resume to doing things exactly the way you did last year - because that's what your brain knows best. Unless you have consciously taken note of what you will do and how you will do it, it will be near impossible to break those old habits.

So, today, want to demystify the myth of a New You. Instead, I invite everyone consider how they would like to EVOLVE in the coming year, and here's why:

  1. You are not a to-do list.

  2. Your brain is lazy

  3. Your brain loves happy hormones


Let's look at each of those individually.

You Are Not a To-Do List



Wouldn't it be amazing if life was that simple? We so often gauge our success and achievements by the completion of lists that we oversimplify the beauty of living. Bucket lists, goals lists, grocery lists, gift lists, etc... The list of lists is endless.

The danger in evaluating our success on lists alone is that it strips away the complexity of human behaviour, human emotion and experience. How would you feel if someone simplified some of your greatest achievements down to just a list? I believe that sucks. To dumb down something that took hours, days, if not years of time, energy and people to a single sentence is just offensive. So why would you look at your own life that way?

Your Brain is Lazy




Our brain is an amazing organ. It's so amazing that we are marginally conscious of what it's capable of at any given moment. As I'm utilizing primarily my prefrontal cortex to write this blog, the rest of my brain is keeping my digestive system going, my breathing constant, monitoring my body temperature...just to name a few.

Unfortunately, as amazing as it is, it's also its own worst enemy. Why is that? Well, simply put - the brain will take the path of least resistance when it comes to decision making. It's trying to conserve energy in order to focus on other more important things - like keeping you alive. What this means for your conscious mind though, is that you will easily fall into old habits without giving it a second thought. Our brains are constantly creating pathways and wire them closer together each time you reinforce a habit.

Do you always eat a bag of chips when you watch a movie? See how quickly your mind automates that thought AND action the next time you sit down to binge on Netflix.


Your Brain Loves Happy Hormones




When I speak about happy hormones, I'm referring to the four main ones: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. Each of these hormones promote "positive" feelings like happiness and pleasure.


  • Dopamine: This is typically known as the "feel-good" hormone. It's what gives you the sense of pleasure and the main reward system for your brain.

  • Serotonin: This hormone helps to regulate your mood, sleep and parasympathetic system to keep you functioning well.

  • Oxytocin: Just as dopamine is referred to as the feel-good hormone, oxytocin is referred as the "love hormone". It's the hormone that gives you the feeling of love, bonding, and affection.

  • Endorphins: Feeling hurt? Endorphins are here to help. They are the body's natural way to relieve pain.


All this is wonderful to feel happy and experience love. The downside is your brain doesn't discriminate. That means it will happily take in these hormones from wherever it can get it. What do I mean by this? Here's an extreme example: cocaine give your brain an INSANE increase of dopamine - but as we all know (or should know), cocaine is terrible for you. It literally eats away at your brain*.

This isn't all bad though, because there are plenty of really easy and cost-effective (i.e. cheap) activities you can do that naturally fill your body and mind with these happy hormones. By gaining awareness of what they are, you become better equipped to live a happy life.


So what?


Ok, that's great - but what does all this have to do with my new year's resolutions and becoming the most amazing, happy version of myself in 2024?

By acknowledging that you are a complex creature that deserves an evolution instead of a checklist, understanding how your brain works against you in building new habits and knowing which feelings to seek - you can build REAL goals that you can ACTUALLY achieve.

Here's how you can make those goals come true:

  1. Figure out what experiences and new skills you acquired in 2023, and how you'd like to evolve them in 2024

  2. What are the things that prevented you from achieving some of your goals last year? This will give you indication on what to be proactive on to ensure success this year.

  3. What do you already enjoy doing that is healthy for your mind, body and spirit? How can you enhance these this year?


If you follow those 3 questions, I guarantee you'll find success this year.


Happy New Year everyone,

Yaya



 

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