Well, that New Year shine has probably worn off the penny by now.It seems that the further we get from that night full of hope, midnight kisses, party hats and champagne, the more things make their way from Happy New Year to just...Year.Life gets back to normal and that January 1st blank slate promise is worse for the wear thanks to things like the January cold and that universal malaise called Valentine’s Day.

My desk is the perfect example.I make a point to start each year with my desk looking exactly the way I think it should look for maximum productivity and creativity.Of course, someone had to go and invent Post-Its, so now it’s covered with those, each one representing a task that I haven’t yet managed to get to.Every pen I pick up is dead.My printer’s already out of ink. It’s a perfect storm, a swirling tornado of my inner voice mocking me and telling me I can’t handle things that seem so easy for everyone else.

Well, if your inner voice is bringing you down, let your outer voice tell it to shut up. If that doesn’t work, here’s a brief arsenal of weapons in the fight against negativity.

SPRING CLEAN YOUR MIND

Are you already angry at yourself for not running those three miles a day you resolved to on December 31st? How about all that wine you’ve been drinking on the weekdays when you promised yourself you’d stick to weekend indulgences only? You already screwed up, why bother trying? 2012 is just like every other year after all.Take that, Mayan Calendar.

But wait! Spring cleaning is like an erase, rewind, and start over for those resolutions you have probably cheated on, broken or maybe even forgotten.Spring cleaning isn’t just about cleaning out your make-up drawer or filling bags for Goodwill, it’s about sweeping the dust bunnies out of the corners of your mind and refreshing your attitude.Even just five minutes a day dedicated to sitting quietly, clearing your mind and imagining the positivity you want to bring into your life can make a huge difference.This is easier said than done, believe me! I make a conscious effort to set aside even just three minutes, and sometimes days go by before I get a chance to try it again.As spiritualist author Mike Dooley says “Thoughts become things!” So, even if I don’t get a chance to…meditate (I don’t like using that word—that just makes it sound harder)…I still watch what I’m thinking and making sure those thoughts are ‘clean.’ Clean as in positive, that is.

Although cleaning out your closet and making donations to Goodwill also feels good.

AVOID COMPLAINING

This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed, if you really started listening to your friends, how one whiny complaint can infiltrate a conversation like a virus, everyone jumping on the bandwagon, comparing woes and telling sad stories.

Ironically a former co-worker and I noticed this as we were having drinks at Happy Hour one day.We discovered we had spent our entire Happy Hour discussing everything we hated about our jobs, getting angrier and more resentful, ordering more and more margaritas.We challenged each other to go an entire day, the next day, without complaining.

We lasted until 9:38 a.m. when the UPS guy returned a crushed package with a missing destination label.


But we tried again, and again, and each day we got better at it.I don’t think we ever went a full day, to be honest, but being aware of our attitudes, outlook, and reaction to things really made a difference.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Most negativity stems from feeling out of control. Negativity at the aforementioned job stemmed from hypocrisy in upper management.Boom.That was definitely something I couldn’t control. There’s not enough time in the day to do everything on my Post-Its. Sadly, I’ve discovered that I can’t control time.The sense of panic that comes with feeling helpless generates a lot of stress and unspent energy.

Something you can control is how you take care of yourself. Even the most minimal of exercise can make a difference.For one thing, it can help you design a routine, which in turn can help you prioritize your time and feel some sense of order.Additionally, you’ll expend some of that nervous energy, release endorphins, all that good stuff.

You can also control what you eat. Eating healthfully is the best way to prove to yourself that you’re worth the time it takes to learn about what to eat, what not to eat, what’s going to cause a sugar crash, what’s going to make you jittery during a morning meeting, and so on.It’s a way to show yourself (and others, for that matter) that you respect yourself.Self respect is the atom bomb in the arsenal against that inner critic.In fact, once you respect yourself, you’ll care less about the opinions of others, which is the ultimate self-control.

AWARENESS

There’s a second part to Mike Dooley’s “Thoughts become things” quote above: it’s “Choose the good ones.” Considering we’re all human and the mind is a slippery eel, flitting here and there, reacting to all sorts of outside influences, this is the important part of the quote. No one masters the mind to the extent that only positivity comes through. Giving into that negative voice is admittedly the easy way out short term, but in the big picture, the simple gesture of awareness of the direction and mood of your thoughts can make all the difference in your world.