Happy New Year

It is that time of the year again when social media will be filled with sentimental posts discussing how 2022 had many unique challenges. These posts will be followed by hollowed-out pictures and other posts about how 2023 will be different. Verbal motivation will be high, but discipline will be absent from many people's newly public manifestos of a proposed change. 

Discipline is used as fuel when we put down on our phones and log out of social media. I heard somewhere that "discipline is doing something we don't want to do when we don't want to do it." Eating healthy, exercising three days a week, putting down the nicotine, avoiding toxic relationships, or whatever goal we establish for ourselves can have a better chance of success if we apply discipline, education, spiritual guidance, and commitment. 

Starting over is a paradox in itself. The change may be necessary for overall health and happiness, but we do not need to jump on the bandwagon and use the beginning of the calendar year to set our goals for a new desired way of life. Health, whether mental, physical, or emotional, is a yearly pursuit that must take priority for us if we want to reap the benefits of being "healthy." 

Part of the problem many of us experience is knowing the benchmark to be healthy or how to achieve it. Publications over the years have enabled unhealthy habits by telling their readers to accept their unhealthy habits and maybe limit some drug use, have one piece of cake instead of two, or switch from cigarettes to vape pens. I understand this method because harm reduction has been around for years, like putting a plastic cellulose acetate filter on cigarettes. 

According to the CDC, the United States had an obesity rate of 39.8% among adults aged 20 to 39 in 2017. These numbers are alarming, yet it is a complex subject to tackle. On the one hand, you do not want to upset those struggling with weight gain or obesity, but on the other, you do not wish to claim it is okay to accept this as the view of health standards. In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 19.7 million Americans (12 years and older) had a substance use disorder. It is probably fair to say that our nation could become healthier in many ways. Do not get me started on how people talk to one another, especially on social media. Healthy communication is something to ponder as well.

Starting over can be something other than a pursuit we set out to accomplish once a year, only to see our motivation diminish within one or two months. There is a saying, "if you are having a bad day, you can start your day over whenever you want." The same rules apply to the pursuit of health and happiness. Moreover, we are committed to the bondage of self, and many of us do not have positive role models to help with our goals, which could be life-changing.

The desire for change is there. According to the NPD group, self-help book sales grew by 11 percent from 2013 to 2019. And you cannot thumb through a social media timeline without seeing inspirational quotes or videos proposing personal change. 

We live in a very busy world with many conveniences, from dinner at a fast-food restaurant in minutes, delivery services for purchased goods, or mobile phone apps to organize our life, yet we find ourselves struggling. We must focus on personal change at the molecular level to optimize our results.

When we set out on an endeavor to reclaim our lives and look to instill self-empowerment, it is also beneficial if we have a support system in place. When we face challenges or obstacles as we try to improve ourselves, it is nice to have someone to discuss this with that is going through or has gone through the same thing. Change takes a daily commitment. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” May your days in 2023 be the best yet.

Ty Bechel, father of six, is an author, columnist, and journalist that focuses heavily on wellness and community-based articles. He is a podcast and radio host for Recovery Uncensored and Recovery Uncensored LIVE! on 107.1 FM. He is also the instructor for a specialized program at SIUE (Edwardsville, IL) that prepares students to obtain their State of Illinois Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Certification. He is the owner of Bechel & Associates Nonprofit Consulting, LLC and founder of two nonprofits in Madison County, Amare and Renegade Gardens.