How many of us find ourselves falling into the trap of the first column in the photo above? After over 20 years of both studying and teaching self-improvement, I am confident in saying…I do. Yes, even those of us who should ‘know better’ can still fall victim into letting our thoughts get the best of us. In my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, I equate this to a snowball rolling downhill, it gets bigger and bigger with each passing second. A most recent example for me is when it was near freezing as I left for work in the middle of the month of May. As I am not a fan of the cold at all my thoughts were on the fast track to nowhere good. Thinking about how much I didn’t like the cold, how much I wished I were on vacation or lived somewhere warmer. I began to think about how it didn’t seem fair I had to wake up and go to work when it was so unseasonably cold. If my thoughts were allowed to keep going like that, how do you think I would have shown up for work that day? With a positive attitude ready to face the day and any challenges that would go with it? Not hardly.
You may be thinking, “If this guy who has been in the field of self-improvement for over two decades still has his thoughts run away on him, what hope do I have?” The answer is plenty! Success in life is progress, not perfection. We are always going to slip up. If we continually beat ourselves up over that, we will most likely find ourselves living in the first column of the picture above. The secret to living an amazing life is not to never have any negative thoughts or tough days, but to be able to recognize them and take actions to correct and move on from them. The million dollar question is how do we do that?
Having some self-care ideas and actions at the ready can be the solution we all need. Personally, I love having my ‘happy playlist’ or list of songs I know put me in a good mood. I love having images that remind me of fun, warm tropical destinations. I keep them in my phone, at the calendar at work and on the occasional travel mug. Speaking of calendars, I have a inspirational day-by-day calendar that wakes me up with something positive to think of every morning. If you are low on ideas for self care ideas for your life, feel free to borrow some of mine, or even print out the list above. It can work even better when you combine a few. Using the list above, that can mean dancing to your favorite song while laughing out loud. You could make a journal entry celebrating your wins while relaxing in a hot bath. There are so many options. My only suggestion is to have a list or idea in place before the challenges come along. It can prove difficult, if not impossible, to be resourceful when you are in a bad emotional state.
Just remember when you find your thoughts running away on you that success is progress not perfection. Look at it as a great opportunity to practice some much needed self-care. A good time to pause and focus on what is really important and what really brings us joy. The more you practice this, the better you will become. The one thing that you can be sure of is that life will give you plenty of opportunities to practice.