We are barely into the New Year and many people are struggling to keep their “new year’s resolutions.” Have you ever wondered why so many new year’s resolutions become temporary actions instead of real lasting changes? Often times, we get so caught up in changing specific aspects of our lives (losing weight, getting a new job, finding a new relationship, etc.) that we miss the overall picture. What if our main goal was to live a better life each day? What if our mission was to wake up a little happier every day?
I challenge everyone reading this blog to work on improving their lives by decreasing stress and increasing happiness. Why? For the simple reason that it is so much easier to work on those major life changes when we are happier and less stressed. Imagine how hard it is to lose weight when you are constantly unhappy and worried. Imagine how hard it will be to find a new job if you don’t even know what you want to do with your life. Instead of beating ourselves up for not achieving unrealistic goals, we can aim to achieve happiness by doing something about it every day. (Yes, every day).
Below Are 10 Challenges That Can Help Bring Real Positive Change To Your Life Each Day:
3 Things To Do Right Now
Challenge #1 Write Down Everything You Like And Don’t Like About Your Life. Start by writing out everything you like about your life. You’ll be surprised by the difference this can make. Not only can it help bring positive emotions but it can also give you a better idea of what activities you should keep doing or increase to make your life more satisfying.
Next write down things you don’t like (or anything that causes stress). Cross out anything that you can’t change.
For everything else, identify something that you can realistically do to change each item:
i.e “I don’t like my job” What Can I Do About It?: Think about what type of job I would like, Start job searching, Apply for 1 job today
Challenge #2 Write Out Your Life Goals Write out everything you want to achieve in life, no matter how big or how small. Post it up somewhere. Read it every day. Think realistically about how you can achieve these goals. The purpose of this is to get a better idea of what you really want out of life. Once you know that, it is easier to actually work toward the life you want.
Challenge #3 Get Organized (or plan to get organized) This may seem like a big challenge but it can be done is simple ways that can produce enormous benefits. Start by perhaps re-organizing your desk, purse or wallet. It helps to start with small tasks and then work your way up to bigger tasks (such as organizing an entire room). Being organized not only provides a sense of accomplishment but it makes it easier to think while working or doing tasks.
How to get organized: http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Organized
7 Things To Do Daily
Challenge #4 Meditate Everyday Starting the day with a clear mind makes life challenges so much easier to handle. Furthermore, meditation has numerous psychological and physical benefits. You can start simple by meditating for as little as 1 minute per day.
Benefits of Mediation: http://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/
How to Meditate: http://www.wikihow.com/Meditate-for-Beginners
Challenge #5 Give Yourself A Break. Literally. Often times we get so caught up in work or worrying, that we forget to give ourselves a break. Studies show that those who take breaks are more productive. Even if you are not working a traditional 9-5 job, taking breaks from whatever you are doing can be extremely beneficial to your mental and physical overall well being. Assign yourself three times a day where you can realistically take a break. If you feel like your time is limited, start with 5 minute breaks and then increase the time gradually.
Here are some tips on taking breaks: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/youve-been-taking-breaks-_n_4453448.html
Challenge #6 Do Something You Enjoy Every day Surprisingly, this is something that many people forget to do on a daily basis. We focus so much on what we have to do (go to work, clean, cook etc.) that we don’t take time to enjoy ourselves. I challenge you to do something you really enjoy everyday even if it’s only for a short amount of time. Pick up your favorite book, go to a place you enjoy, spend time with someone you like, watch your favorite movie, etc.
Need Some Ideas? See this handout: Self Care Activities LHLH
Challenge #7 Express Gratitude Daily. This may sound cliché, but there is actual research that shows the health benefits of expressing gratitude:
“7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude”: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude
At the start or end of each day, try to express your gratitude (“I am thankful for __,__,__”). Name as many things as possible. See how this changes your mood and perspective each day.
Challenge #8 Get Adequate Sleep. This seems obvious but at least half of our population is not getting enough sleep. As adults, we should be getting about 7-9 hours of sleep per week. Inadequate sleep often leads to increased stress and a great deal of physical health risks. Notice how much better you feel when you get enough sleep as opposed to days where you do not.
“12 Simple Tips To Improve Your Sleep” http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips
“How To Improve Sleep Naturally” http://wellnessmama.com/4936/improve-sleep-naturally/
Ironically, stress and physical illness can cause sleep problems. If you are continuously having difficulty sleeping, consider seeking professional help.
Challenge #9 Drink More Water Whether you are trying to lose weight, eat healthier or think clearly, this is one easy way to instantly get significant health benefits. Numerous studies have shown the countless benefits of increasing daily water intake. Drinking purified water is even better as tap water itself can contain harmful substances.
“12 Unexpected Reasons To Drink More Water” http://greatist.com/health/reasons-to-drink-water
**Tip: If you want your water to be tastier, consider adding fruit or these others delicious ideas: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/20-tips-make-drinking-water-taste-better
Challenge #10 Get Positive Inspiration Positive Thinking is key to living a happier. If you are struggling with internal motivation, external inspiration is always good. Every day, commit to watching an inspirational video, reading inspirational quotes or reading inspiration material. If you like, post quotes around your home, register to an inspirational blog or follow inspirational social media pages.
Start Here: “50 Inspiring, Uplifting and Positivity-Focused Sites To Make You Happy” http://gimundo.com/news/article/50-inspiring-uplifting-and-positivity-focused-sites-to-make-you-happy/
Keep in mind that these are just a few suggestions to start you on the path of living a better life. The more you implement these and other positive activities in your life, the more you will see change. Also remember that happiness and life satisfaction are gradual goals or paths. You may not feel instantly happy but the key is to be a little happier and live a little better each day.
Need More Help?
Are struggling with a problem you can’t fix? Are you going through serious emotional distress? Don’t prolong your suffering. Get help. There are countless options for psychotherapy, life coaching, life healing and other helping services. Many mental health professionals take insurance and medicaid; many also provide sliding scale fees.