From Dr. Jane's Notebook

A few suggestions for New Year Resolutions

As we move into 2012, we are reminded that life is unpredictable and nothing is more certain than change. It is easy to become angry, depressed, confused, or obsessed when things do not go as planned. With a new year upon us, it’s a great time to give thought to New Year’s resolutions that will help us cope and develop better ways to live. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.

·         To manage stress, give some thought to your next job. There is great pleasure in having a job that you enjoy but sometimes great jobs come to an end. For this reason, we must continually improve our skills and invest in ourselves. Career training prepares us to work in different settings, for different companies, either as employees or to become self-employed. Even when things are going well on the job, it pays to think ahead and nurture some alternative ways of earning a living… just in case.

·         Healthy attitudes about money are a family affair. Living on a budget doesn’t mean denying yourself of everything; it simply means planning and prioritizing your expenses. As we have learned in recent years, money can come and go with little warning. For most of us, money is a huge source of stress. We owe it to our children and to ourselves to improve our attitudes and financial habits as we move into an unknown future. Unfortunately, family relationships can be damaged when we try to control the flow of money through bossiness instead of discussion. Even kids need to have some understanding of how financial decisions are made. Typically, when children are given an age-appropriate allowance and the opportunity to make their own financial decisions, they learn more about thriftiness and less about whining.

·         Anger management is essential at all ages. In our effort to stave off the growing violence in our world, it has become less acceptable for people to behave aggressively toward others. Learning to manage anger is a great New Year resolution for those who struggle with controlling their temper. The famous psychologist, Dr. Albert Ellis spent more then sixty years of his life studying anger management. He reminded us that as far back as the First Century A.D., the philosopher Epictetus said, ‘what disturbs people’s minds the most is not events but their judgments about those events’.  This means that when bad things happen, we can easily make matters worse by adding our own catastrophic thoughts and negative self-talk.

When we feel powerless, we often rationalize that ‘even if we can’t fix the situation, the least we can do is get angry’.  Unfortunately, anger is an emotion that makes us feel more powerful but fails to solve problems. Learning better ways to manage anger is an excellent resolution because frankly, it’s simply not cool to lose your cool anymore.  

·         Teach children how to behave by being a good role model.  As parents, it is our task to teach our children how to become good citizens of the world. With increased awareness of bullying, we must teach our children to treat themselves and others with more respect. This requires methods of discipline that teach correct behavior rather than demonstrating punishment.

Not long ago, I heard one grandparent describe her approach to child discipline. In her words, this grandmother was called to school one day where she heard a barrage of complaints about her grandson’s behavior. Upon taking him home, she described placing the young man in time-out. In her house, time-out is a time to get quiet and reflect on one’s behavior, but rather than isolating the child, time-out involves placing two chairs in a quiet place where both she and her grandchild sit together and learn how to calm themselves. Then when both feel cooled down, they talk about the problem together and brainstorm constructive solutions.

We live in times that are unpredictable. For this reason, we must remember to live carefully, safely, and try to become a little bit wiser each day. I wish us all a healthy, happy and peaceful new year.

©Copyright, 2012, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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