January Juncture

“Good and bad habits both take time to acquire force. Powerful bad habits can be displaced by opposite good habits if the latter are patiently cultured.”Paramahansa Yogananda

Junctures always provide an opportunity for change. It’s easy to follow a path when the road never forks, but decisions must always be made when there’s a choice. Most of us look at the transition from one year to another as an opportunity to effect change in our lives. It can be the end of old habits and the beginning of new ones. And, in our relationships with friends, family, and co-workers it can be an excellent opportunity to mend fences and create new bridges. Carl Buechner stated a powerful truth when he wrote, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Often, when a person can set a specific date to begin or end some behavior pattern, the success of this change is improved. For example, smokers who set a ‘stop date’ have an edge in maintaining their nonsmoking status. And, the gyms and fitness centers are full of new members each January. Unfortunately, the zeal generated by a clean slate will not sustain new habits without a true commitment to the behavior change behind the enthusiasm. “It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”Moliere

If there truly are aspects of your life you’d like to change, remember to be pragmatic and plan small steps. If weight loss is a goal, take it a pound at a time. Write your goals down, and analyze the behaviors necessary to achieve these goals. And, realize from the start that many of us are our own worst critic. So, remember to give yourself a break if your best laid plans go awry!

Here’s to a new year of good health and good habits for all of us. This is a great day to renew a commitment to treat yourself and others well. And, be comforted by the reality that, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln

Stephen L. Hines, M.D.
January 2001