“Getting started on our dreams is easy, it’s the Honeymoon period. But following through with our promises demands progress. And that progress is not just agreeing to this and saying thank you, it's waking up every single day and making the decision to not just be our self, but to be the self that our dreams demand. The self that is able to be of service.” - Sharon Pearson
What is it with us humans? We want to please everyone yet we’re last ones on our to-do list.
It’s not about “self-love”. It’s to do with bringing down the barriers we’ve built against it.
It comes down to having courage to break the walls down, embrace new ways and become open to connecting with our true selves. Because when you push through the self-inflicted boundaries, you become more loving, empathic and caring toward you.
Which is why it’s time to…
Most of us put our happiness and dreams on hold for the next day, whereas the reality is, your life is happening right now, in the current moment.
Here’s the thing – once your own needs are met, you’re far more likely to be able to help others meet theirs. You’re far more able to value others once you value and care about what matters to you. Self-love is not selfish.
What to do next
Think about what makes you feel alive; now write a list of what makes you happy. Make sure you create room for these into your week. Just writing down the list will put your mind to ease. Can you feel the weight lift off your shoulders? Feels good, doesn’t it?
Your possessions eat up space both physically and mentally. They may empty your wallets, yet they fill your mind with more to think about. Not to mention, they add an extra line to add to your to-do-list. Let’s be honest, we’ve all enjoyed experiencing instant gratification after a purchase. However, at some point you realise the “high” ends. And that you need to start creating space rather than filling it.
What to do next
Start with de-cluttering physically. Whether it’s reducing the possessions in your home or getting rid of your clothes you haven’t worn in the last two years, you will begin to experience a shift in your thoughts and will have much more room to focus on all that’s really meaningful to you.
For years, gratitude has been linked to health, happiness, satisfaction and how you relate with other people. Happy people give thanks for no reason at all.
According to a 2-week study published in the Journal of Personality, Dr Roberts Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California and his colleague Michael McCullough examined the effects of writing gratitude diaries on 200 college undergrad participants.
At the end of the experiment, the participants who excercised gratitude experienced more positive mood than those in other groups, and also reported to doing more acts of service during this period.
Here is the full account of three experiments conducted with slight variations in the frequency of writing in the gratitude diary.
The conclusion was that practising gratitude for 5-10 minutes on a daily basis reorients your mental compass to focus more toward the positive.
What to do next
Go out of your way to tell someone how well they’re doing and that you appreciate them. It may feel uncomfortable at first because we are so used to having a reason to say ‘thank you’, yet such a small act can mean so much to someone.
Think of somebody in your life that helps you on a daily basis (your partner, friend, parent). Spend some time to reflect how they make a difference in your life and how you can return the favour.
And once you’ve done that, do the same for you. Look around at what you have, the person you have become and how you make a difference to the lives of people around you.
In the words of Joe Pane, “You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.”
Most of us are stuck in our comfort zone. The most basic scientific definition of a comfort zone is a behaviour that keeps your anxiety levels to the minimum.
Although comfortable and safe, after a while, the zone also gets boring. Anything that increases your anxiety level lies outside your comfort zone. And although no one seeks out ways to become anxious, a little bit of anxiety can help you hit the sweet spot and create wonders for your personal well-being and growth.
Embracing the new won’t always feel safe and easy, but it’ll be worth it as you gradually get rid of inexperience and let awareness in.
Perhaps you want to learn a new language or travel half way across the world alone. Maybe you want to build a new career utilising the potential you know you have. Whatever it is for you, you can go discover new things and realise how much bigger the world is than you thought it was.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your own world, your own little bubble, that you don’t notice everything going on around you. Continue to learn, keep challenging yourself, and build up momentum in doing so.
What to do next
Find that middle ground between becoming anxious, but with manageable levels of anxiety. The way to do this is by regularly challenging your comfort zone in manageable steps and become okay with constant growth. That way, you will increase the number of things you’re comfortable with and bring in novelty in your life, which is directly linked to the dopamine in the brain.
Think about a time when you listened to a colleague whilst replying to a text. Wasn’t long ago, right?
As humans, we’re conditioned to multi-task and juggle everything that life throws at us. And that leads to either living in the past,or focussing too much in the future.
When we’re at work, we fantasise about going on a vacation. When we’re on a vacation, we’re worried about returning to work.
As the saying goes, “Tomorrow never comes”. Because it’s forever in the future – it’s only a concept in our minds. If you’re waiting for tomorrow, you’ll forever be waiting, because it will never quite “arrive”.
Here’s the thing – right now is the only time that’s guaranteed to you. It’s yours, for sure. And no one can take it away from you. What are you doing with it?
What to do next
There’s a lot of advice around how you should quiet your mind. And most of the times, you end up feeling more worried about how to quieten your mind, instead of quieting it. Instead, try this. Practise mindfulness. Which means you pay intentional attention to your thoughts, without judgement. You be with your thoughts (but not become your thoughts), neither trying to grasp them nor ignore them. You don’t pursue it for benefits (because that brings in future-oriented thinking) but just trust the process for its rewards and go with it.
… but don’t berate yourself for the old mistakes made. We all have made them in the past, but doing something and getting it wrong is 10x better than not trying.
Think of it this way: If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re actually doing something instead of being idle, which creates problems that weren’t there in the first place.
If you are stuck regretting the past, then you are leaving no room for personal growth. Reflect and embrace all that you are and all that you can become.
What to do next
Reflect on your past, present and future and how you react to life’s challenges. Of course, it’s not OK to lie to yourself saying everything is OK when it isn’t – this is not about lowering your standards. It’s not about living your life as a bystander.
It’s about taking a pause, reflecting on what has worked for you and what hasn’t in the past, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Mistakes, wins, goals, hits and misses – all play a role in that.
I have found the way to a happier life is not by focusing on endings but on beginnings.
So many people wait for the “right time” and put their happiness and personal goals on hold – they push it to the next day, thinking “now is not the time”.
But here’s the truth: There are no perfect moments. Because every moment is perfect if you make it so for you.
Changing your way of life does not have to be drastic; it is as simple as making small changes that will eventually lead to your overall happiness.
In what way do you need to bring small changes to your life? What thoughts, habits, and attachments do you need to let go? What do you need to embrace?
Leave a comment below and let us know.