I’m serious. Absolutely nothing!
Every single person that you admire (or perhaps envy) is every bit as human as you. The only thing that separates you from them is YOU! Change your mindset, and believe in yourself! Change your envy to admiration and then to inspiration. Learn to imitate the things that they do that you admire. Are you close enough to ask them what has helped them? I’m sure they’d love to share the ways that have helped them to achieve the things they desire. Not close enough to ask? A quick internet search can provide you with a list of things that successful people share in common.
Here are a few things I’ve emulated from the people I admire that help me stay happy, healthy, and motivated.
- Have a regular bedtime routine and get to bed as early as possible. When I’m at my best, I’m in bed at 8:30 most every night. I don’t stay up later than my kid, because I know that to be fully present for him and show up in the world in the best way I can, I need to be fully rested. I know a lot of people who insist that they can do just fine on only a few hours of sleep. Here’s why this is a bad idea: https://www.healthline.com/health/science-sleep-why-you-need-7-8-hours-night#get-more-sleep Plus, getting to bed early allows me to wake up early. And it’s in the first few hours that my brain functions best. I have my best ideas at this time and this is when I do the majority of my writing.
- Exercise. I know, this list is starting to sound cliched. But there’s science to back this up too. Exercise releases endorphins like serotonin, dopamine, and all the feel good hormones. And regular exercise can give you a steady supply, keeping your brain happy! It also keeps your body functioning properly. With clean fuel (healthy eating and lots of water) and regular exercise, your body stays healthy. Your musculoskeletal , and skeletal systems strengthen. Your organs function better and your immune system improves. There are a million reasons why exercise is so important (well that might be a bit of an exaggeration… but only a bit!) please check in with your doctor before making any drastic changes, but in most cases you can start with walking five minutes a day. Wherever you’re at, start there.
- Don’t drink. Well that’s not entirely true… I rarely drink. Alcohol negatively affects your brain and alters your thinking. You don’t have to have an addiction or a drinking problem for it to affect you negatively. And for the very same reasons, I avoid sugar. But life is short. truly, sweets, and alcohol should be treated as occasional , small indulgences. Treats.
- Don’t watch TV. There’s the occasional show that catches my interest and I will occasionally hit up the local movie theater. But I don’t have a TV in my living room, only a projector for movies. There is no need for background noise or distraction. Sometimes I have music playing, but more often I enjoy a quiet space where thoughts and conversation flow freely.
- READ. At least 2 hours every day. I spend the vast majority of my free time reading. I’m not just reading books, I’m reading on my phone/computer too (which research suggests is bad for your eyes so I use a blue light filter, but books are still better). But the only way to truly learn is by reading. It doesn’t really matter too much what you’re reading. As long as you’re enjoying it, and it is thought provoking. Filtering out bad information on the internet is another subject however…
- Stop procrastinating. Well mostly anyway. I’m still working on this one, but I read or heard somewhere recently that just touching the thing that you’re procrastinating on, and spending ten minutes on it, today, can help you get the ball rolling. If that only means developing an action plan, at least you’ll have accomplished that! It feels good to achieve attainable goals and it helps you to stay motivated. So the next time you have some big project weighing you down, try this approach and let me know if it helps!
- Meaningful connections. This was a big one for me. Having the courage to be vulnerable and put forth the effort to build and maintain meaningful connections with the people in my life. I think I took for granted that some people were just “there” and always would be. Truly value your family and friends. Understand them as individuals, who need connection just as much as you do. You have to be willing to see them and value them as they are, this is integral to your own happiness.
- Practice listening. Practice? Yes. Listening is a skill that needs to be developed. Listening is not simply waiting for your turn to speak. Listening is about clearing your mind from distraction and focusing your attention fully on the speaker. It’s about receiving, processing and understanding the message they are conveying without attaching your own thoughts or feelings. A good listener does not assume, but instead asks clarifying questions. And perhaps most importantly, listening means no interrupting. Really. It takes patience to develop this if it wasn’t instilled in you during childhood. It’s also important to pay attention to subtle cues that we can glean from body language, and notice the changes in tone and inflection. Many of us picked up on the subtleties as children, but if not, it’s not too late!
- Apologize. And don’t just apologize, do it first! But only when necessary. This is a whole article in and of itself. Well I could write a full article on each of these topics really. But in the interest of keeping this relatively short… Acknowledge the role you played in a disagreement or hurting someone’s feelings, and apologize. This is not a display of weakness but rather courage and strength in character. The fragile ego is what prevents us from acknowledging our imperfections openly to others. This is a true test of strength. Also, “Sorry you feel that way” – is not a good example of an apology. I’ll elaborate more on this in my next article.
- Practice gratitude. It started out with a daily list. Write down three things that you’re grateful for. This was the most difficult thing for me to grasp to be honest. I was in a miserable place in my mind. But when I decided that I needed to change my life, I couldn’t knock it until I tried it. I couldn’t really understand then just how much this one thing would change my life, but once I got the hang of it…the affect was tremendous. TREMENDOUS! I’m at the point now where I can find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds and I can tell you that this along with the next point… game changer.
- Forgiveness. Not just forgiveness of others, but forgiveness for myself. I don’t beat myself up for not living up to my expectations. I repeat I DO NOT BEAT MYSELF UP when I don’t live up to my expectations. Sorry for the repetition, but this one thing is what probably changed my life the most. If I decide to stay up late and I’m dragging myself out of bed the next day, I remind myself all day that I can do better today. Yeah, today. Not tomorrow, what am I doing now to fix this? I do not punish myself by thinking, “Well, that’s what you get for making a dumb decision like that. You should’ve known better.” -Sound familiar? If so, you need to stop that right now. Accountability for your actions is one thing, but punishing yourself is another thing entirely. Realize the mistakes that were made (no blaming others here either), simply by acknowledgement and then course correct. This is where the primary focus should be. Focusing on the problem is where so many of us tend to get stuck. If you consciously choose to focus on the solution, you are effectively changing your patterns of thinking and more likely to achieve the thing you want. There was a saying we had in the military, “Adapt and overcome.”
- Keep rituals and routines. A simple act of waking up and making coffee every day can help you maintain a semblance of comfort in an otherwise chaotic world. Particularly when you’re on the 9-5 grind, having routines like making lunches the night before can have a dramatic effect on stress levels. Routines also allow for moments of meditation. You may already do this unknowingly. Zoning out, is a form of meditation usually sparked by the subconscious. If you’re actively meditating, even better!
This list could go on for days… so I’ll stop here and take a few notes for myself for my next article. Please feel free to leave a comment below and share some of your tips on how to live your best life!
I don’t claim to be perfect, and I’m okay with that because perfection is an unrealistic, unattainable goal. Set realistic attainable goals for yourself and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish. You CAN change your life, the moment you change your mind. Perspective is everything, you just have to be kind to yourself, believe in yourself, do the work, and you can become the best version of you.