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Poems to Keep You Going

Poetry

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Reading a poem, glancing at a spunky painting, listening to an uplifting song, and saying some encouraging words to myself define my ritual before I am out the door in the morning, ready to brace the real, often cruel, yet beautiful world out there. Here are some of my favorite poems to keep me going, that remind me to continue putting one foot in front of the other, no hurry, no pause.


 

Horses at Midnight Without a Moon by Jack Gilbert

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there’s music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.


 

A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.

But we enjoy our lives because that is what God wants. Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well.

The poor women at the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and the awfulness in the future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the village is very sick. There is laughter everyday in the terrible streets of Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.

If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance of their deprivation.

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.

To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude. We must admit there will be music despite everything.

We stand at the prow of a small ship anchored late at night in the tiny port looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning. To hear the faint sound of the oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.


 

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.


 

Walk On by Donna Carnes

You walk on still beside me, eyes shadowed in dusk. You’re the lingering question at each day’s end.

I have to laugh at how open-ended you remain, still with me after all these years of being lost.

I carry you like my own personal time machine, as I put on my lipstick, smile, and head out to the party.


 

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.


Life by Charlotte Bronte

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

 

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5 Things to Do When You Want to Eat Your Feelings

self soothe, comfort yourself

Have you ever turned towards food to cope with your feelings or relieve stress? Turning towards food and increasing your food intake in response to negative emotions can be described as emotional eating and stress eating. Why do we do this? Our brains see food as essential, rewarding, and pleasurable. Eating sugars and fats literally releases opioids  in our brains. Opioids are the active ingredients in many drugs that result in a calming, soothing, stabilizing effect. Here are some tips on what to do when you want to eat your feelings.

Find other ways to reward and soothe yourself besides food and eating. I could provide you a list of other alternatives but it is more fruitful if you develop your own alternatives- How can you address your feelings and emotions without using food? How can you soothe yourself in times of stress without using food? How can you reward yourself for your accomplishments and achievements in ways that do not include food?

Identify triggers. Self-awareness around what triggers you to eat your feelings is invaluable. It gives you the opportunity to cope and plan ahead- to develop a plan in advance about how you will handle the situations, experiences, emotions, sensations, and people that trigger you to eat your feelings. Take some time to self reflect- identify what pulls you to self-soothe with food (you can also google common triggers to emotional eating and determine which ones are true for you). Create a plan about how you will respond when you are feeling activated or triggered.

Tolerate difficult feelings. Move towards, not away from difficult emotions. When you turn towards food to deal with stress and emotions, you are avoiding a much needed conversation with yourself. Treat those difficult feelings like you would if your best friend walked into your house in distress. Would you tell them to shut up and get out? Would you ignore them? Would you shut the door on them? No. Often, that is what we do with difficult feelings- we kick them out, ignore them, or try to fight with them. Instead, get curious and compassionate with difficult feelings. Ask them, “What do you want me to know?” “What do you want to tell me?” “What do you need from me right now?” “What can I do to help you?” Literally, talk to your feelings like they are a loved one in distress- validate their feelings, don’t minimize or dismiss them, respond with compassion not judgment, and be gentle not critical.

Reach out to someone instead of food. Call, text, or message a loved one. Write and send a letter or card to someone. Use a Hotline. Go to a Meetup. Visit a furry friend. Go get yourself a cup of tea and start small talk with the barista or another customer. Listen to a podcast- something about just hearing another person’s voice can bring comfort.

Rest.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep because getting an adequate amount of sleep reduces cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol levels increase your appetite for foods high in fat, sugar, or both. This is because these foods release opioids and serotonin in our brains which counteracts feelings associated with stress and discomfort.

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What We Wish People Knew About Eating Disorders

Promoting eating disorder awareness and recovery

As Eating Disorder Awareness Week comes to an end, I have gathered some of the truths people with eating disorders wish others knew. Debunking myths about eating disorders is a commitment I strive to continue pursuing in the hopes of creating a society, culture, and communities where people with eating disorders feel safe and supported in disclosing their struggles, asking for help, and receiving treatment. I encourage you to share this information with others to increase awareness and debunk myths about eating disorders.

“It isn’t a vanity issue.”

“Recovery is hard, and worth it.”

“They affect people of all sizes, races, ages, genders, and socioeconomic statuses.”

“80% of people never receive treatment.”

“I didn’t choose this- eating disorders can be hereditary.”

“It’s not for attention.”

“They have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses.”

“Most people with eating disorders are not underweight.”

“Binging or overeating cause the brain to release dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter) and opioids (the active ingredient in heroin, cocaine and other narcotics). This chemical release makes disordered eating literally addictive. “

“People who look normal have eating disorders too.”

“You can die from an eating disorder even if you are normal or overweight.”

“Recovery is about understanding how I use food or a lack of food to cope with emotions- like how people use drugs and alcohol to numb their feelings.”

“You can’t always tell who has an eating disorder, it’s like an invisible illness.”

“People with eating disorders are people too.”

“There are many types of eating disorders.”

“Straight guys have eating disorders too.”

“Over exercising and not eating enough can be very harmful-dehydration, fatigue, stress fractures, cartilage damage, osteoporosis, amenorrhea, heart problems and arthritis.”

“You cannot tell how bad a person’s eating disorder is by their size.”

“Some eating disorders have nothing to do with weight.”

“People who desperately need help look a lot like people who don’t need help.”

“It’s not a diet.”

“Achieving a normal weight doesn’t mean I am cured.”

“Full recovery is possible, I will get there.”

“Recovery is possible for anyone and everyone, but it isn’t something anyone else can do for you. When I was in the depths of my illness I told myself there was no way I could recover unless I was forcibly admitted and had a tube shoved down my nose; anything less than that meant my illness was never valid in the first place. But that was just a lie the anorexia told me to keep me trapped. That was just a part of the sick, competitive game that is so deeply intertwined with eating disorders. The truth was that I didn’t need IV poles, NG tubes, or hospital walls to prove to the world, or myself, that I was sick. The truth was that I didn’t need to prove my sickness at all. I just needed to recover, and I needed to do it for ME. I knew misery of the illness and that had to become justification enough to fight like hell for my freedom, whether others could appreciate it or not. Convincing the world around me that I’m sick or special was just a symptom of this terrible illness. I would much rather be seen as happy, functional, grown up, responsible, intelligent, interesting… I strive to be so many more adjectives than anorexia ever gave me and, slowly but surely, I am getting there.” -Kara, @recovery.chii

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Hope: The Requisite for Recovery

Highlighting the importance of hope in eating disorder recovery

In honor of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, here’s a blurb about one of the most vital ingredients for eating disorder recovery, for living free from an eating disorder, hope.

Preserving hope on the path of eating disorder recovery is a challenging endeavor. There will be times when a part of you believes things will not improve, things will never change, and a future free from an eating disorder is impossible. In this dark place, recovery does not even seem like a viable option. How do you cultivate hope when this hopeless part of you clouds your current outlook and vision of the future?

The critical thinking part of you has its benefits, as described by Maria Popova.

“Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté. Finding fault and feeling hopeless about improving the situation produces resignation — cynicism is both resignation’s symptom and a futile self-protection mechanism against it. Blindly believing that everything will work out just fine also produces resignation, for we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better. But in order to survive — both as individuals and as a civilization — and especially in order to thrive, we need the right balance of critical thinking and hope.”

Critical thinking helps evaluate what coping skills are useful and which aren’t, which relationships support recovery and which ones are barriers to recovery, what your strengths are and what your growth areas are… The critical part of you is trying to help you be the best person you can be, to motivate you to “apply yourself towards making things better.” However, in its extreme role, the critical part of you hijacks your perspective, leaving no room for hope, only space for criticism, doubt, and pessimism.

Where to find hope? At your core, you know recovery from an eating disorder is possible. You have heard eating disorder recovery story after recovery story- they are all over the internet. Real and inspiring stories of how people transitioned from living with an eating disorder to recovering, surviving, and thriving without one. These are hard facts and evidence that recovery is possible.

At times, the eating disorder part of you or the critical part of you, will try to convince you that the recovery journey is futile. And sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith, and believe that your destiny is more than your weight, body, how you look, counting calories, avoiding foods, exercise, etc. Your future has more in store for you than myopically complying with the eating disorder’s behaviors, feelings, and beliefs. You were not put on this Earth to follow the eating disorder’s orders and directives. You were put on this Earth to do so much more.

“Among our most universal human longings is to affect the world with our actions somehow, to leave an imprint with our existence. Both construction and destruction leave a mark and give us a sense of agency in the world. Now, destruction is necessary sometimes — damaged and damaging systems need to be demolished to clear the way for more enlivening ones. But destruction alone, without construction to follow it, is hapless and lazy. Construction is far more difficult, because it requires the capacity to imagine something new and better, and the willingness to exert ourselves toward building it, even at the risk of failure. But that is also far more satisfying in the end.” Maria Popova.

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Books That Will Change Your Life.

Self Care

Freedom, Books, Flowers, and the Moon- who could not be happy? -Oscar Wilde.

Books That Just Might Change Your Life, Rock Your World, or Shift Your Perspective/Outlook on Life…

Non-Fiction

The Warmth of Others Sun by Isabel Wilkerson

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Happiness & The Miracle of Meditation & No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Essential Writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch by Henry Miller

Fiction

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

East of Eden by John Steinback

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Bonuses

Blogs: Brainpickings by Maria Popova & Zen Habits by Leo Babuata

Podcasts: The Tim Ferriss Show (Favorite: Jamie Foxx) & On Being (Recent Favorite: Pauline Boss)

Speech: “This Is Water” by David Foster Wallace

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Journaling to Eating Disorder Recovery

Focus on your own goals, healing, and recovery, journaling to eating disorder recovery

“There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.” -William Makepeace Thacary.

Writing can be an effective coping tool when in distress or when bored. Put some music on, prepare a cup of tea, and get to writing. Writing can provide distraction, reflection, emotional release, and increased motivation, hope, understanding and perspective. Here are some writing prompts to help you move towards recovery from an eating disorder.

What job does the eating disorder have in your life? What is it’s function and purpose. What role does it have and play in your life?

What is the eating disorder protecting you from? What is the eating disorder afraid would happen if it didn’t do it’s job?

Write a good bye letter to your eating disorder. You can incorporate things about the eating disorder that you have liked, enjoyed, respected (e.g., a sense of control, relief, distraction, etc.) and list negative things about the eating disorder.

Write your vision of recovery. What would a day in the life without the eating disorder look like? What are your goals for recovery? What is your plan for achieving them?

What if today were your last day of engaging in eating disorder behaviors? What if the last time you used behaviors was really the last time?

Make a pros and cons list about keeping the eating disorder and letting go of the eating disorder. Ask yourself about the things that the eating disorder has provided and what it has taken away (be honest about this). The pros and cons of having it and the pros and cons of letting it go.

Write down the eating disorder thoughts vs. your Soul Self thoughts. Your soul self is the energy you feel flowing through you characterized by calm, confidence, courage, perspective, curiosity, joy, open heart and mindedness, compassion, clarity, connection, and creativity. Eating disorder thoughts are often critical, intrusive, pressured, judgmental, distorted, and destructive. For example, an eating disorder thought might be that “If I gain weight, no one will like me.”  The truth is that our connections to people are not determined by our weight. An eating disorder thought might be “If I eat, it means I have no will power and I am a bad person.” The truth is hunger cues and listening to them are essential to our survival- we need to eat to survive, function, and thrive.

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” -Mina Murray, Dracula.

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Let’s Make America Even More Great.

A Better America, How to Make America Great,Supporting inclusion and diversity in America

I’m reflecting on how little love, curiosity, calm, and connection we feel with people who disagree with us, who hold different beliefs, values, and opinions than us, and how this is tearing our country, and world, into pieces.

Each piece standing up for what it believes in, protecting what it holds dear, and criticizing the other- a polarizing process in which each faction’s fears continue to grow and be invalidated. A divisive and self-destructive process that keeps us stuck as a people, and a nation, characterized by hate, fear, rage, contempt, denial, chaos, and obsession with control and power.

We need a respecting government who sees every piece of America, who witnesses and listens to each and every part of America’s deepest needs, fears, and pains.

We need a leadership who is open minded and genuinely curious and compassionate towards all people who call America home.

We need a unifying leadership who courageously builds and maintains bridges with all the groups of people who believe in the United States.

We need a nonpartisan government who provides reassurance to all of us that they will address and care for the needs and fears of every part of America- every community, family, and individual who cherishes the freedoms and protections of this beautifully diverse country.

We not only need our government to commit to this, but every person to commit to strive for this in their relationships and interactions with others. I think that would truly make America great.

“Look carefully around you and recognize the luminosity of souls. The lamps are different, but the light is the same.” -Rumi.

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My Favorite Psychotherapy Products & Goodies

Psychotherapy Products, Remember to play and be creative

Getting children, teens, and adults to talk and open up can be like pulling teeth, that’s where us therapists have to get creative. Here are some of my favorite psychotherapy products to foster comfort, play, joy, and a sense of humor throughout the therapeutic process.

Totika– I would call it “Therapy Jenga.” They have two versions-  the “Ice Breaker” and “Self-Esteem” versions.

Mixed Emotions– A deck of beautifully illustrated emotion cards.

Old Magazines- Collaging works wonders. I usually offer the following prompts: self-portrait; past, present, and future; parts (IFS style); I am…; house, tree, person (art therapy assessment tool); family portrait; family scene; inside my head; motivation and inspiration; I am grateful for…

Growing Mindful Cards– A deck of cards full of simple mindfulness practices.

Balloons- KIDS LOVE BALLOONS. I frequently use “Weights and Balloons” and “Balloons of Anger” from this article.

Power Thought Cards– A deck of positive affirmation cards.

Coloring Books– Sometimes, giving people something to do with their hands, opens the door to communication.

The Five Minute Journal– I suggest a balance of stream-of-consciousness and structured prompts. I currently make my own journals for therapy clients but The Five Minute Journal has been recommended by others.

Rocks- As I walk around San Francisco, I pick up smooth landscape rocks (don’t worry I wash them). I give them to my clients and ask them to write, draw, and paint whatever it is they want more of in their life. Some clients put the rock somewhere they can see it everyday, others carry it around with them as a stress-ball type relief or as a reminder.

Coping Jars– I make Coping Jars for my clients and am in the process of beefing up production to sell them, since they have been a hit! One parent, asked for their own, when they saw how helpful it was for their child- now, they do the activities together. I created these little jars as an activity to do with clients with the hopes of teaching them new coping skills. The Coping Jars contain over 50 simple practices to help people practice mindfulness, gratitude, and self-reflection and with the purpose of giving people a moment to pause and take care of themselves in times of stress and overwhelm.

Leaves, flowers, plants, rocks, branches, etc.- We will go on a nature walk and gather these items for nature mandalas. I will do these both small (e.g., palm size with the help of contact paper) and large scale (e.g., on butcher paper or in a park).

“Remember to play.” – My little sister’s tattoo.

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What to Read: For Love & Relationship Advice

Love and Relationship Advice, Search for true love and happy relationships

Here is a list of books to read for love and relationship advice- whether your relationship is struggling, you’re feeling stuck and don’t know how to make things better, or if you have general questions about love, communication, attachment, and relationships..

Pragmatics of Human Communication: A Study of Interactional Patterns, Pathology, and Paradoxes by Paul Watzlawick, Janet Beavins Bavelas, and Don D. Jackson

Human Communication

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

Esther Perel Mating in Captivity

Hold Me Tight- 7 Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson

Lifetime of Love Sue Johnson

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine & Rachel Heller

Finding and Keeping Love

A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis

A General Theory of Love- Thomas Lewis

Relationship Breakthrough by Cloe Madanes and Anthony Robbins

Relationship Breakthrough Anthony Robbins Cloe Madanes

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John Gottman

The Relationship Cure John Gottman

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski

Transforming Your Sex Life

Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution by Paul Watzlawick, John H. Weakland, and Richard Fisch

Change: Principles of Problem Formulation and Problem Resolution

 

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New Year’s Resolutions Rarely Work, This Will.

New Year's Resolutions, Goal Setting, Mission Graffiti Art and Never Giving Up

I have to admit, I do set New Year’s Resolutions- at the end of every year (I also try to do this every month), I ask myself, “What do I want more of in my life?” My answer, for 2017, is to spend more time outdoors, hiking and exploring in nature. 

I find, and research supports, that it is easier to add a behavior into your life (e.g., more physical activity, healthy eating, traveling), than to take away or restrict something (e.g., losing weight, unplugging from social media, cutting out dairy, gluten, etc.). Once that “something” is not an option, it often becomes more tempting and when you remove something, you are often left without a replacement activity or behavior, which makes it more likely that you will turn to whatever it is you are trying to avoid. Instead of “minus-ing” something, think about adding a behavior (e.g., instead of wanting more money- consider, asking for a raise, changing jobs, starting a side hustle) and breaking it down into specific steps. It will be easier to adhere to your resolution if it is a behavior you incorporate into your life, instead of something you restrict or take away.

Also, goals > resolutions. Goal setting using the SMART acronym will help you actually adhere to your New Year’s Resolution. So, here is how I turned my New Year’s Resolution, into a SMART goal.

Specific (think who, what, where, why, when)- Spend more time in nature (i.e., parks, the beach, forest), alone and with others, both locally, nationally, and internationally, either walking, hiking, jogging, etc. in order to be more connected to nature & the environment and to find stillness, quiet, and peace outside of the city life.

Measurable (how much)– Spend at least 2 hours a week on a walk or hike in a park. Log time spent in my planner. Go on a local 1/2 day hike at least once every 2 months.

Agreed Upon (use if other people are in on your goal like a significant other, friend, etc.)

Realistic (is your goal achievable?)- I know, for me personally, it would be too much of a stretch to say “I want to spend time in nature everyday or I want to go on a full-day hike ever weekend.” That is not realistic for me, right now. Know thyself. Be honest with yourself.

Time-Bound– I mapped out my goal in terms of weekly and bi-monthly commitments. Feel free to use any time frame that makes sense for you and your goals- be it hourly, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, in 3 months, in 6 months. However, don’t give yourself too much time, hold yourself accountable by setting short-term expectations.

Need help coming up with a New Year’s Resolution or goal? Here are some tips from Tony Robbins.

Organize your goals into different categories. For example, personal growth and development (e.g., What would you like to learn? What would you like to improve upon? What are some skills you want to develop and master? What are some character traits you’d like to develop? Who do you want to be?”), career/educational/economic goals (e.g., “What do you want to earn? Do you want to retire, when? How much do you want to save? What do you want to spend money on? What breakthrough would you like to create? What kind of job title do you want? What kind of promotion are you looking for? How do you want to grow in your career?” What kind of impact do you want to have?”), toy/adventure goals– ask yourself, “If there were no limits economically, what are some of the things you would like to have? What are some of the things you would like to do? If the genie were before you and any wish you made would immediately be fulfilled, what would you want most in the world?”, and contribution goals (e.g., “How can you contribute to others? To the communities you are a part of? How do you want to leave your mark on this world? What would your ideal legacy be? What could you create or do to make a true difference in people’s lives?)

To take goal setting one step further, write your why. Free write why your goal is so important to you. You need strong enough reasons to pursue your goals, when things get tough.If you know the why, you can live any how.” -Friedrich Nietzsche Hold yourself accountable by telling other people about your goal by creating a commitment contract and if you don’t accomplish it by the agreed upon date, implement a consequence (e.g., Try Stickk).

Perseverance and never give up, Mission District San Francisco Graffiti