Can you believe January is here? Last year was quite a year. Wars. Fear and fear peddling. Friendships lost over politics. How are we to respond? How are we to be healthy? I want to suggest three things to help you navigate whatever this next year throws at you.

Examine and adjust your mindset accordingly. 

Our mindset is one of the most essential tools in our toolbox regarding how we approach life. And yet, it is one of the tools people understand the least. Our satisfaction with life is primed by our expectations. And our expectations are set by, you guessed it, our mindset.

Our mindset helps us to make sense of our world. If you expect life to be fair, you’ll be quite disappointed. If you expect that life shouldn’t be hard, you will struggle when it is hard. If you hope everyone likes you and no one hurts your feelings, life will be exponentially more complicated than it needs to be. Accepting that hurt and pain are part of life is necessary for a healthy mindset.

If you embrace that life is hard, your life will be different, not because it’s magically easier but because embracing the expectation that life is hard helps us transcend the hardness of life. For an excellent treatise on this idea, read M. Scott Peck’s seminal work, The Road Less Travelled.

If we are going to be healthy adults, we must continuously scan our mindset and make necessary adjustments. We must deeply examine our mindset for areas where we focus more on things outside of our control than on the things under our control. Then, we will need to adjust the ones that are looking outside. We need a mindset that focuses on our response to the things happening to us, not only the things happening.

We need a learning mindset. When new things happen, how do you respond? Do you shut down, overreact, or embrace the change? There are very few people I know who genuinely enjoy change. Healthy adults seek to foster a learning mindset that sees change and failure as learning opportunities. This is a learning mindset.

We need an open mindset. When failure forces its way into your life, do you see that as an opportunity to learn and grow? Most people avoid the risk of failure, which leads to a closed mindset. They can’t learn because they won’t risk new experiences, which could lead to failure. Their closed mindset keeps them from growing. This can also happen to people who have succeeded in certain areas of life. They become afraid of learning new things because that would force them to let go of past successes. 

Healthy emotional living begins with looking inward toward ourselves first for change. The only person we control in our lives is us. 

Fill your life with quality people only. Guard your time. 

If we are going to be healthy adults, we must fill our lives with healthy and quality people only. I know this sounds scandalous in 2024. We live in a paradox where we are not allowed to say out loud anything that could be offensive–and surely saying some people are not quality is offensive– and in perhaps one of the most judgemental of people who disagree with our viewpoint worlds. This does not mean we should not be actively helping people improve their mindsets and emotional health as we can. It does mean that we ensure the people who are getting the majority of our time are healthy and quality people. We will become the sum of the friends we hang out with. To this end, be very picky about who you interact with as friends. Meticulously choose who you let speak into your life. I have people who I interact with weekly in a mentoring role. In some, I am the mentor; in others, I am the one being mentored. I utilize different criteria for entering into those relationships and measuring their value. I don’t allow whiners or complainers to speak into my life. If we are going to be healthy, we need to be intentional about where our energy goes in relationships and what energy we fuel our lives with. We cannot live unintentionally and get life results that come from intentionalality.

If you have toxic people in your life, you must develop a plan to either remove them from your life or mitigate the amount of time they get in your life. You have to guard your time. It’s one of the few commodities we get that, once spent, we never get back. How much time is getting spent doing things that don’t matter? How much time do you spend watching or streaming entertainment? How much time do you spend arguing with people you don’t know on Facebook or other social media platforms? How much value does that add to your life? Stop it.

Seriously, just stop doing that. Healthy people engage in relaxing activities because our bodies are designed to need recharging. But when those hobbies become overly consuming, they lose their value.

Fill your life with quality people and activities. When you do, you’ll find that the time you have for those people or activities that take energy out of your life will naturally extinguish and disappear. Live intentionally.

Practice Kindness. 

Kindness is not the same as niceness. Niceness is concerned only with a person’s feelings about what you are saying. Kindness calls people to be the best version of themselves that they can be. One dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” This means we give up part of ourselves to help everyone we meet to be the best they can be. We utilize these qualities to help them improve.

Kindness might be a simple greeting or a wish for a good weekend. It might be a rigid boundary being drawn about not allowing the person to be involved in your life until they can improve and not be toxic. Kindness might be telling a manipulator that until they can interact without manipulating, they are not allowed to take time out of your life.

Kindness is not mean but doesn’t value non-hurt feelings above all else. Kindness can be rebuffed because many people we interact with daily are not ready to change. They feel that the price of change is higher than the cost of staying the same. Therefore, they are angry when they are called to be better (kindness). This is not the concern of a healthy person. If you want to hear an audio version of this topic or explore it more deeply, look up episode 135 of The Joe Martino Show.

I hope you find these three tools helpful as you lean into the days before you.

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