Christmas is all about joy.
But pesky old joy doesn't always spontaneously arrive.
We have to cultivate joy.
So what does joy have to do with weight loss? Well, we know that the majority of people don't eat because they are hungry.
We eat because we are bored, sad, lonely, angry, resentful, or stressed.
If we develop a practice of cultivating joy, it improves our ability to weather the storms that invariably crop up in our life.
There is a practice called savouring. What that means is that we can magnify the effect of any positive experiences we have. To use today's language, we can leverage the good times to help us manage the bad times.
How do we do this?
You all know about the practice of gratitude. The good news is you don’t have to do it every day. It works just as well if you do it once a week. Set aside one day a week and reflect on a couple of aspects of your life that you are grateful for.
Three Good Things
This is different to gratitude. The idea is that you look for nice things each day. They don't have to be earth shattering. It might be a birdie splashing in a puddle, the smell of the morning coffee, or the comfiness of your couch. Noting these helps shift our natural cognitive bias to look for the negative. The more joyful things we look for, the more we see!
Capitalisation is the concept of sharing your good experiences with others. When we do this, it re-enforces the positive experience in our own mind, increasing our feelings of well-being. Interestingly it also makes other people feel better. Humans have mirror neurons. This means we subconsciously mimic other people's actions and even emotions. We have all experienced it. When someone is down, the whole room feels blue. When someone is vivacious, they inject a contagious energy to everyone around them. Practice sharing your joyful moments; it helps everyone.
A Mindful Snapshot
This is really about pausing and taking a mental picture of your good times. Use all your senses. Imagine you are putting up the Christmas Tree. Note the smell of the tree (if it's a real one!), the texture of the needles and the feel of Christmas decorations. Observe the twinkling of the lights. If you are drinking something while doing it, note the taste of the drink.
When it's finished, spend some time reflecting on this picture. We are usually rushing. Rushing to tick the next thing off the list. Build the picture and you will be able to reflect back later.
This is a biggie. Our inner critic loves to tell us how much we’ve stuffed up and ruined everything. It complains about how we’re not thin enough, good looking enough, young enough, smart enough… you get the idea. Our inner cheerleader really needs to be louder. It needs to be able to balance out the critic. It is a good idea to notice every time you do something well, and then have what I like to call “a party in your head” about it. I bang on about the good things I do all the time. They don’t have to be monumental - just the small things. If I talk myself out of eating the biscuits, there is a fiesta in my head. If I go for a swim, a metaphorical fireworks display goes off. Practice telling yourself how awesome you are! Toot your trumpet. It's vital for motivation and for joy!
So lovelies, cultivate joy in your life. It helps with your overall well-being. Real health is not just an absence of illness. It really is about feeling well, and you don't have to wait for that to happen. You won't feel more joyful because you have lost weight. You will lose weight and gain health because you are more joyful.
Start cultivating joy and watch the benefits roll in.