For years I hung on to bad habits that made my life a lot harder than it needed to be. While I was a positive and optimistic individual, I continued to cause myself a lot of discomfort and suffering because of my habits.
I started living a better life when I replaced negative habits with positive habits. I had to change my ways and practice healthy mental, emotional, and physical habits every day to get to a place where life was pretty great- even when things weren’t going my way. Sure, I still have some good days and some bad days but these days there’s more good than bad and the bad aren’t usually all that bad.
I’m going to tell you what worked for me, but feel free to come up with your own positive habits that improve your life. It’s not too late to start creating positive habits in your life.
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11 Ways to improve your life today!
01. Be grateful
Gratitude is the cure for what ails you- no matter what’s going on in your life. If you pause the hustle and bustle and be thankful for the good stuff you realize your life is actually pretty good- even great! There’s always something to be thankful for.
02. Be happy
Think you need life to go your way to be happy? Think again!
Often simply making the conscious choice to be happy makes you feel a little happier. So does smiling! If you want to be happy, smile more.
03. Be kind
Do you feel like you’re usually at odds with the people in your life? Being kind is a wonderful way to improve your relationships. Everyone deserves kindness- don’t you?
Kindness towards others is sure to improve your mood, too!
04. Mind your business
A lot of suffering you cause yourself happens when you worry about what everyone else is doing or not doing. You cause yourself pain by trying to advise, convince, and control other people. Focus on living your own best life and you’ll suffer a lot less.
And while you’re minding your business- stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking and feeling, too. Ninety percent of the time what someone else is thinking or feeling has absolutely nothing to do with you or what they think about you. It’s not about you- really, it isn’t!
05. Do something different
You’re never going to get different results by doing the same thing. If you don’t like how your life is going, try something new!
Say “no”, say “yes”. Ask for help, ask for more responsibility. Speak up, shut up. Whatever you would normally do, try a different approach- you never know what will happen if you haven’t tried it!
06. Don’t judge
People label life events as positive or negative but many situations are really neutral- neither good or bad but your judgment makes it so.
Cut off on the highway- so what? Why is your life suddenly deemed bad because of this minor annoyance? Your co-worker was late for work again? How is this really your problem unless you make it your problem?
That goes for pre-judging, too. You know, when you decide how something will go before it happens? What, you’re psychic now? Remember, a positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one.
07. Stop complaining
The more you focus on what’s wrong, the more life feels all wrong.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- stop complaining. You’ll be so much happier, I promise!
08. Put yourself first
You deserve a good life and the only person that can make that happen is you! The way you make it happen is by putting yourself first.
Now I’m not talking about putting yourself first at the expense of others, but you can take good care of yourself and meet your own needs before the needs of others.
09. Take care of yourself
Self care is the most important thing you can to do create a great life! People often look to others to meet their needs but that never really works, does it?
Yes, you need other people sometimes, but if you can’t be what you need for yourself then chances are no one else can be that for you. For example, if you don’t love you, you can’t really accept love from others.
10. Be confident
Confidence doesn’t come from being perfect or getting it right the first time; confidence comes from doing your best and making progress.
11. Just be
Sometimes you have to stop and just embrace this moment. Yeah, you have goals and ambitions and you want to improve your life- great!- but it’s okay to just be. After all, you’re a human being, not a human doing.Join the Conversation
Does your job keep you up at night? Do you work too hard? Do you care too much? Yeah, I’ve been there.
I’ve always been a little too serious with a highly developed sense of responsibility. This trait carried over into my work in a serious way. I tried to do it all and rarely said no. I stressed myself to the point it started to affect my health. After several significant illnesses I realized something had to give- my body already was.
I made a conscious choice to stop taking work too seriously. I had to give up my inflated sense of responsibility and importance. I had to make mistakes, have fun, let go, and simply be happier at work!
What did it take to stop taking work so seriously?
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I am virtually unable to be happy and stressed (or angry, or sad) at the same time. Focusing on being happy meant I felt less stress and was less likely to take every little thing that happened during the day to heart.
Being happy is easier than I thought once I stopped thinking happiness comes from the outside instead of the inside.
Be responsible for me and me only
As a manager I thought my employee’s performance was ultimately my problem. I tried directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. If an employee didn’t live up to my expectations I was sure I was the one that failed. I made myself crazy and undoubtedly make other people a little crazy, too.
I cannot control what anyone else thinks, says, or does- that’s up to them! I can be responsible for me and me only.
Be a team player
I not only took on responsibility for my employees and co-workers, I took on responsibility for the overall business success but one player alone cannot win or lose the game. The more responsibility I accepted, the more serious I was about my work.
Seeing myself as part of the team helped me give up some of my responsibility and share it. Plus, it’s just more fun to work with others!
Ask for help
If a job was assigned to me well then I was going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Only it turns out whatever it takes sometimes meant working myself sick. Yeah, that’s no good.
Work is less overwhelming when it’s shared so I started asking for help. The best part of asking for help wasn’t even the help I received, but the relationships I improved with the people that worked with me.
Not only did I say yes to just about every request, I volunteered to take on more without even being asked! I’m sure it’s no surprise to you I was overburdened, overworked and over-serious!
I started to say no, not only to others, but to my desire to be helpful to others all the time.
My fear of mistakes was one of the main reasons I took work too seriously- what if I screwed up? I still made mistakes and I was seriously stressed out every time I did.
When I began to accept and even embrace mistakes I stopped stressing myself out and started having more fun with my work.
Do my best and forget the rest
All I can do is my best today, and nothing more. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of me, or expects of me. It doesn’t really matter what I think or expect from myself!
Since I don”t control what happens next, I’ve found it easier to focus on just doing my part. In the end all I can really do is my best.
The more I focused on goals, results, and achievements, the more seriously I took my work. I gave all of myself today for a presumed future win but it was like planting spring seeds and not watering them- with my mind always on tomorrow I wasn’t making the most of today.
Focusing on simply doing my best work for this day only made today a whole lot happier and yielded better results.
Believe in myself
Another reason I took work so seriously was because I worried what might happen if I lost my job. I tended towards worst-case-scenario thinking and imagined myself becoming homeless and living on the street. While losing everything was a possibility, it wasn’t very likely to happen. I needed to believe in myself.
I am a competent, smart, and resourceful person. When I was laid off I bounced back just fine. I didn’t end up homeless. Was losing my job difficult?- hell yeah, it was- but I got through it. Whatever happens, I’ll face it. I can do this!
If there was one underlying reason I was too serious about my work it’s because I was constantly assigning either positive or, most of the time, negative value to everyone and everything that happened at work.
Instead of doing my best with what’s in front of me I lamented and complained over every perceived injustice. I made myself miserable! I had to stop blaming everyone and everything to find some peace in my work and my life.Join the Conversation
Are you feeling worn out? Burned out? Beat down? Let’s face it, sometimes life is tough. When times get tough it’s especially important to take care of ourselves.
I’ve been dealing with a particularly difficult work situation the past few months. The intellectual and situational stress of my job have taken a toll on me. I’m doing my best to take care of me but, I’ll be honest, it’s not enough. I’m suffering from job burnout. I’ve taken steps to improve my situation and in the meantime it’s more important than ever to be kind to myself.
An added benefit of being kind to myself is an increased and natural capacity to be kind to others. Don’t we all deserve a little kindness? Yes, we do!
33 Ways To Be Kind To Yourself
01. Adjust your expectations
Sometimes I need to adjust my expectations. I enjoy life more when I am mindful of what I do, not what I get. One leads to happiness and the other, more often than not, leads to frustration. I control what I do, I don’t control what happens next.
02. Let one thing go
I admit it, I care. I care about all kinds of things. Sometimes I care so much I cause myself a little bit of pain. But for all the cares I pick up throughout the day, I can always put one thing down.
03. Set boundaries
I get in trouble every time I fail to set boundaries. Without boundaries I am stressed out, burned out, and unhappy- that’s no way to live! Boundaries are the ultimate form of self-kindness. I can set boundaries any time, any day.
04. Get a good night’s sleep
I don’t know about you but I barely function without a good night’s sleep. When times are tough I need sleep more than ever! Yeah, I’ve been known to go to bed at 9pm every night. What? Girl loves her sleep!
05. Listen to music
I choose music to suit my mood- mellow, happy, relaxing, energetic- whatever I’m feeling I have a favorite track that imbues good feelings.
06. Be happy
I don’t need everything to go my way to be happy, all I need is to celebrate whatever happiness exists in this moment. I can cultivate habits of happiness that carry through to difficult days. Happiness is always there, whenever I choose to embrace it.
07. Be silly
A little silliness is the best medicine when I’m taking life too seriously. I might make run around in circles, wave my arms, do a funny dance. I can be spontaneous, be ridiculous, and just plain silly!
08. Take a nap
You already know I like my sleep, and some days being well-rested takes more than a good night’s sleep. Some days a nap is in order to get me through the day. When I nap I wake up refreshed and clear-headed.
I hold my stress in my body. My jaw clenches and my shoulders tense. Moving my body regularly breaks up the tension and provides and outlet for my stress.
I can ride my bicycle, take a walk, or dance along to a favorite tune. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym- just moving my body!
10. Know yourself
A little self-reflection goes a long way. Before I can decide what I want, what I need, or what needs to be done I must first know myself. Even just a few minutes of thoughtful mediation or journaling can give me insight into myself.
I love to read! Curling up with a good book is a wonderful reprieve from the stress of the day. Reading a favorite blog can motivate and inspire me. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes of my day.
12. Catch up with a friend
There’s nothing like catching up with a good friend- it’s good for my soul! Isolation, on the other hand, is undoubtedly bad for me.
13. Take a break
Taking a break is not only rejuvenating- I actually get more done when I take breaks than when I don’t. Plus, taking breaks is a really nice way to be nice to me!
14. Ask for what you need
I’m not a mind reader and I have to assume no else in my life is, either. Whatever I need, I have to ask for it.
I love to write! Obviously, I write this blog, right? Before I wrote this blog I kept a journal. My journal was actually my inspiration to start blogging.
It doesn’t really matter what I write, only that I get my thoughts down on paper instead of keeping them churning about in my mind.
Every day I stretch my smile, stretch my body, stretch my heart, and stretch my mind.
17. Get inspired
I try to get a little inspiration every day. Sometimes I inspire myself by writing my blog post. Other days I read something inspiring, collect inspiring quotes on Pinterest, or get out there an be inspiring.
18. Do more of what you’re good at
I do something I’m good at every day. Maybe it’s sharing a smile, helping another person, crafting, planning, organizing, giving hugs, or writing a blog post. I get energized when I do more of what I’m good at.
I’ve got to have my “me” time. I might catch up on a favorite show, re-watch an old favorite, snuggle with my dogs, snuggle with my cats, or simply do nothing at all!
20. Say no
Kindness is saying no when I want to, when I need to, and when I mean it.
Laughter is life’s best medicine for whatever ails me. When all else fails me, there’s always Grumpy Cat.
22. Eat good food
When I eat well, I feel well. Eating good food is kind to my body!
23. Accept and love yourself exactly as you are
Right here, right now, I love me just as I am today. I’m not perfect and I never will be. I’m doing the best I can in this moment and that’s enough.
24. Be gentle with yourself
I can be hard on myself but, really, that gets me nowhere good. On the other hand I make more progress when I am gentle and caring with myself.
25. Celebrate your success
Every day I muster all my awesome in whatever I do. Even better, I celebrate each day’s success- from small to big. (By the way, today I won 2nd place in my Toastmasters club International Speech Contest. Woo hoo!)
26. Say yes
Sometimes I need to say no, and sometimes I need to say yes.
27. Have fun
There’s a little fun in every day! All I have to do is enjoy it!
28. Eat ice cream
There’s nothing wrong with a little self indulgence, is there? Like the ice cream sundae I enjoyed just now. mmmmmm…!
29. Do what’s right
All I really have to do is the right thing. What’s the right thing? Well, that depends on the moment. When I take a deep breath and quiet my mind I usually know what’s right. When I focus on simply doing what’s right, everything else seems to fall into place.
30. Adjust your attitude
What I experience is up to me. When I’m struggling I can often find relief by simply adjusting my attitude. I don’t have to be stuck in negative thinking, I can choose to think positive instead.
31. Express yourself
Failing to express myself will undoubtedly cause me frustration and pain. It’s important that I’m honest about what I’m thinking and feeling.
Even though I don’t have to believe everything I think or everything I feel, it’s important to recognize those thoughts and feelings exist.
I don’t necessarily have to take action- just acknowledging and expressing myself is enough. I don’t even have to tell someone else what I’m thinking and feeling- I can write it down and put it away until later.
32. Respect yourself
I used to put other people’s opinions, needs, and expectations before my own and that way of living was quite unkind. I have to believe in myself and trust myself to live a happy life. I have to respect myself so I can be someone I’m proud of, someone I admire.
33. Try again tomorrow
Some days are difficult and it’s all I can do to somehow muddle through- that’s okay, I can try again tomorrow.Join the Conversation
Most situations in life are neutral and it is only our perception that is good or bad. There’s power in perception and you can decide what kind of day you’ll have by looking at your day the right way.
I almost had a bad day
Earlier this week I had a day that was not going smoothly. I was tired and groggy in the morning and had trouble getting going. I headed out to work a few minutes late after having to change the outfit I laid out the night before due to unexpected cold weather. A blanket of fresh snow slowed traffic considerably and I was getting later and later by the second.
When I arrived at work late, I might have qualified it as a bad day but I didn’t. I wasn’t about to have a bad day on account of a few small setbacks.
Then I really almost had a bad day
I arrived home that evening to a burst pipe and a flooded family room. Okay, now I was having a bad day- but I wasn’t, really. We were really fortunate the flooding happened in the middle of a remodel and our furniture and valuables were out of the room. The sopping carpet was the old carpet we intended to replace anyway.
I admit I felt a little bit of stress over dealing with the cleanup but the damage was really minimal. The important thing was this was a situation I could handle. It was a much bigger setback than I experienced in the morning, but it was still manageable. By putting my situation in perspective I was able to deal with the inconveniences and still have an okay day!
Image courtesy of That Girl Crystal
Is it actually a bad day or just an inconvenience
Do you get worked up over the little things like waking up late, heavy traffic, spilling coffee on your shirt? No doubt these experiences are inconvenient but are they bad? Does your entire day have to be bad because of an inconvenience? What if, instead, you saw these situations for what they are- inconveniences and just that.
When you experience inconveniences your life isn’t greatly affected- you still have your family, your job, your home. You have all the things that you have on a good day. When you change your focus from the immediate inconvenience and consider your life as a whole you may find those things that cause you to have a bad day aren’t really so bad.
Okay, but sometimes it really is a bad day
Sure, sometimes you just have a bad day and you just can’t find your perspective. It happens to me, too. When I find myself in a funk I make an effort to shake off a bad day.
When I’m really having a bad day, I love to listen to the song Bad Day by Fierce Bad Rabbit and I usually end up with a smile on my face.
“So it’s a sign today you won’t fly, your beautiful wings clipped by this life. Another day, another way, spread those wings and you’re gonna fly high. Everything will be fine. Just wait and see.” ~Fierce Bad Rabbit
The point is you don’t have to be victim of circumstance. You don’t have to buy in to the “Monday” cliche.
The kind of life you experience is up to you. You don’t have to have a bad day just because things aren’t going your way. And when you do have a bad day, because sometimes that happens, you can wake up tomorrow and have a better day.
It’s not too late to set yourself up for a great day
Why wait for a few setbacks to do damage control? I also have some tips for making every day a great day! Why not start the day right? Even if it’s the middle of the day, you can restart your day.Join the Conversation
If you want to live a happy life, you’ve got to stop complaining! But sometimes complaining is a good thing- if you complain the right way. Complaining can be an effective way to express yourself, spark positive change, and release your stress. Enjoying the benefits of complaining is all about complaining the right way- the right way to a happier self! (Note: Complaining the right way is not the get exactly what you want way. Sorry, that way doesn’t actually exist.)
I try to avoid complaining, though I will admit sometimes a challenging situation gets the better of me and I momentarily enjoy the self-satisfaction of righteous ranting. The more other people agree my complaints are valid, the more tempted I am to repeat my complaints to someone else and get even more validation. But I know it’s a negative, unproductive cycle and one I’ve got to stop. When I have a legitimate complaint, I focus on complaining the right way to the right people.
Recently I was on the receiving end of the wrong kind of complaining. I felt berated and powerless, unable to come up with a solution while another person repeated their complaints multiple times, blaming and judging me for their perception of the problem. Not only was I unhappy, so was the person complaining. The entire situation was frustrating and demeaning to us both! This unfortunate experience could have had a positive and productive result if approached differently.
What, exactly, is the right way to complain? Here are some ideas for complaining for a positive purpose.
Complaining the right way
Put it in perspective
When you’re unhappy about something it may appear the problem is more dire than it really is. The more powerful your complaint there’s more inflation of your negative perception of a potentially neutral situation. It’s rarely as bad as it feels.
Own your part
Whatever your complaints about another person, organization, or situation, know that only you are responsible for your own happiness and well-being. When you complain the right way you own your part and accept responsibility for your actions and reactions. The best part of accepting responsibility for yourself is having greater influence over your own health and happiness.
Could you have been more communicative? Were you clear about your expectations? Did the other person have all the information? Do you fully understand the situation? Do they fully understand the situation?
Often complaints are built on assumptions or judgments. Perhaps your complaint isn’t really about what someone else did but your expectations, which may or may not be realistic. Maybe there are really good reasons they did what they did. Maybe they just made a one-time mistake (mistakes are okay!).
Asking a few simple questions about the situation can diffuse a your disappointment and provide an opportunity to clarify what really went wrong.
It’s never a good idea to communicate when you’re angry. Take a break, get some space, and calm down before sharing your complaints. You can express your concerns more effectively when you’re not emotionally charged.
Tell the right person
If you have a complaint, go directly to the source. Telling your complaints to everyone but the person you’re upset with is just gossiping. It undermines your reputation.
Say it once, and only once
If you repeat your complaints over and over again you are trap yourself in a cycle of negative thinking and your legitimate complaining becomes bullying!
Image courtesy of P Shanks
Be kind and respectful
Every person deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. If the situation were reversed, think about how you’d want to be treated. You have a legitimate complaint and still other people deserve your respect.
If they aren’t being kind and respectful to you, be the bigger person! Don’t stoop to their level. Be someone you are proud to be!
Keep it productive
You have more to gain by focusing on solutions instead of problems. Voice your complaint and follow it up with a solution. How could the situation be improved? What could be done differently next time?
Make a change
Sometimes complaining the right way won’t improve your situation. If a situation is not working for you, you have choices about how you respond- you can choose to make a change. You can change your attitude, change your behavior, or change your situation. You’re never as stuck as you think you are.
Let it go
You’ve complained the right way so what’s next? Let it go! Don’t hold grudges. Don’t keep score. The past cannot be changed and the future is not yet determined. The more you hold on to your complaints, the more likely your reality will match your perceptions.Join the Conversation