It is Monday, and that can be a pain. People generally focus on what is causing them pain in their lives. Why? In a physical sense, it can be pretty hard to ignore. When the pain is mental or emotional, it can be overwhelming.
The bad news first, there will always be pain in your life. Pretty inspiring for a Monday, right? Pain is not always a bad thing. It can be one of life’s greatest teachers. It can let us know when something is not right in our lives. This can be the pain of a physical injury, where our body is letting us know something is wrong. Even the heartache of a toxic relationship is pain that is telling us that person is not right for us.
The good news is that in many ways you can choose your pain. In most cases this comes down to the decision of the pain of discipline verses the pain of regret. I am forever reminding Margie that “discipline equals freedom” a quote I stole from Jocko Willink. So much so, she probably is sick of hearing it. That does not make it any less true. If we choose to skip the initial pain of discipline, we will have to face the pain of regret.
Let us look at our examples above. In the case of a physical injury, physical therapy and doing exercises can be painful. If we do not do them, we could heal incorrectly and suffer the pain of regret. Toxic relationship? Breaking up with someone can be hard and painful. Staying in that relationship can have us waking up to the pain of regret with every painful episode.
How about you? Are there disciplines you are putting off because they are painful? Not disciplined in your fitness because you “don’t have time” or it is “too hard”. Let me tell you from experience. The pain of a good workout goes away in time. The pain of being out of shape is something you have to deal with daily. Not disciplined in your diet because you would just rather “eat what you like. ” or “eat what tastes good.” Then you must suffer the regret of all the pains an unhealthy diet give you. These pains, such as heart disease, can be fatal.
This week, if you find yourself trying to get out of the pain of discipline,ask yourself what the pain of regret will be if you don’t follow through. Be honest with yourself. The pain of missing just one workout or the pain of eating just one doughnut can lead to the regret of choosing bad habits over good ones.
It is the middle of the week. Might even be the middle of the day when you read this. It might be the middle of your life. I bet, if you are any kind of achiever, there are a few things you expected to have done by now that are not complete. Usually, this leads to a feeling of frustration. This feeling seems to grow as does the time since you began work on this goal/project. I get it. I’ve been there myself and still experience this. Especially, when it is something I am excited to achieve and complete.
What can we do to remain patient and, more to the point, sane while we are waiting for this goal to manifest? Also, what does this picture of my hiking path I took the other day have to to do with any of this? The answer is in the first picture. “The day you plant the seedis not the day you eat the fruit.” This is easy to understand when it comes to growing fruit, but not so easy when it comes to reaching goals.
What can we do if we want the fruit to grow faster? We can make sure it has the right amount of sunlight and water. In other words, make sure it has all the ingredients to help it grow as quickly and as strong as it can. What else could we do? We can remove any rocks or weeds around it. In this case, removing any obstacles that will prevent its growth.
On the other hand, what happens if we try too hard? What happens if we just keep pouring water on the seed? What happens if we put it in the sun too long? It will either flood or dry out in either case it will die.
You may be thinking “that’s great Neil, but I’m not trying to grow a plant!” Whether you are starting your own business, trying to get in shape, or learn a new skill, the answer is the same. Once we begin,or plant the seed, there is only so much we can do. We can work on creating an environment that will make it likely our goal will succeed as soon as possible. Just like watering and making sure our seed has enough sun. If we overdue it, like flooding our seed, it may kill our goal. Think of checking in on other parties that are involved in our goal. Do that once a week or so, it may remind and motivate them. Do it once an hour and you will lose their assistance.
How about removing the rocks and weeds? We can remove obstacles that may prevent our goals. Get all the junk food out of the house if you are trying to eat better. Does this mean you will be skinny tomorrow? Of course not. Does it make it less likely you will fall victim to temptation? Absolutely. Are you more likely to eat junk if you have to get dressed and drive to the store to get it or if you can stay in your pajamas and walk to the fridge?
Just like the tree in this picture, to grow it takes time. Sure, the tree will grow quicker if it has the right amount of sun and water. It will be more likely to grow if all the rocks and weeds are away from the soil. However, it will still take time. Not only does the time it takes a tree to grow vary according to the type of tree,just like it varies depending on what goal you are working on. It also can vary according to the individual tree and the environment it is growing in. Just like the same goal can vary from person to person.
When you find yourself growing impatient, work on both improving the environment and removing obstacles for your goal. When you have done that and your goal has still not manifested, repeat to yourself, “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” When you have been eating good and putting in the effort at the gym, but you feel like your getting nowhere, say this to yourself. You never now what it happening with the seed under the soil.
Here in the northern hemisphere spring has arrived and summer is well on its way. If you are anything like myself you have noticed that you have a way to go until you have a body you are happy to show off in the warm rays of the summer sun. In today’s society it can seem like second nature to put ourselves down when it comes to our personal appearance. With everyone sharing their absolute best pictures on social median and celebrities going as far as photoshopping and air-brushing their pictures, it can be easy to feel inadequate. What, if anything does that get us?
Let me ask you this question, who would you do more for, someone you love or someone you hate? The answer here is an obvious one. You would do far more for someone you love. The same can be said for yourself. Last year, I had made a habit of going to the gym or some type of fitness 5 days a week. I was starting to get excited about my progress. January brought open heart surgery and required rest and time away from the gym. It has been almost 3 months since I was going 5 days a week. It is amazing how quickly your body can go downhill and how long it can take to get back to where you were. This cannot only be frustrating, it can be downright depressing. This can cause us to lash out in anger and frustration. Oddly enough, the recipient of this harsh talk and criticism is the person in the mirror. You are about to get in the shower and you glass in the mirror and hate what you see. You are not alone and this happens to far more of us than you can imagine.
You might not even be aware of the negative self-talk you engage in. That is the first step. Notice what you are saying to that image in the mirror. Is it along the lines of “Wow I have a big belly” “I look fat.” or even the less harsh sounding “I sure used to look better.” With statements like that, people end up viewing their body as an enemy. Something that is working against them. Maybe even someone who played a cruel trick on them. Instead, try focusing on something you like about yourself. Do you have a beautiful smile? Do you love your voice? Are your calves sexy? Then, simply say to yourself, or out loud if you are feeling brave, “I love my body. I will do better.”
This may sound like a lie and be hard to believe at first, but keep it up. When we are not healthy, it can be easy to focus on what our bodies are not capable of. We do no run as fast as we would like. We can’t lift as much as we wish we could. To, of course, we can’t fit into those jeans from 3 years ago. What we forget is all of the wonderful things our body does to for us. It gets us from point A to point B. Sure, it might not be as quick or as graceful as we would like, but it does the job. We can pick up things we drop. We can hug ones we love. Our body does a million different things we can be grateful for, if only we choose to be. Imagine if we started that? I say next time you catch yourself looking in the mirror, find at least one thing you love about yourself and your body or at the very least one thing that it allows you to do that you are grateful for. Say that to yourself or out loud and then follow it with telling your body that you love it.
One of the great side effects of this is how you start treating your body. You may pause when you are tempted to fill it up with garbage. Calories that add weight, but lacking the nutrition to supply the system with what it needs. Even if you do, you may find it easier to take a walk after dinner. It might even make you a little sore depending on your fitness level. Deep down you know it is for the best. That is called “Tough Love”. You owe yourself a little of this as well. I can understand how easy it is to get frustrated when the results do not come as quickly as you would like. Ask yourself this question when you feel like quitting, “Would you give up on someone you love?” Of course you wouldn’t. Don’t give up on yourself either. You got this and we are here to support you.
Here is one of the great things about self-improvement – you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Some of the greatest teachers and greatest teachings are new versions of very old ideas. They might have a slight new twist on them, but the main difference is the way they are presented. The same idea that was brought forth by a student of the seminary would be explained in a very different way from that of a young man who sang in a rock band and was a bartender and Postal worker for over two decades. That covers the transmitting end of things. The same can be said on the receiving end. That same idea will be heard differently by the young man in our example when he is in a band right out of high school verses when he is in his forties and has had more life experience. This is why to this very day I listen to and read self-improvement material every day. That, and I have a great passion for learning.
That brings us to today’s post. I was listening to a motivational video that I had heard a handful of times before. (Did I mention you can learn something new depending on where you are mentally at the time?) In it I heard one of those self-improvement clichés I have heard countless times before. I am not really sure this is a term, but this idea has been mentioned so often that I can think of no better way to describe it. Here is the funny thing about this idea and how I heard it this morning. When I began to ponder it I realized although I had understood this concept intellectually, I never really made use of it to the full extent, nor got it in my spirit. It seemed too simple, too obvious. Often we miss great opportunities because they seem too simple. I am letting you know that although I have know about this success tool for years I never put it to its full use because I dismissed it due to its simplicity. I tell you this in hopes that you will not do the same.
What is this powerful secret that can help us achieve our biggest goals? Before we reveal it, let me tell you two other benefits of using this method. First, it can reduce the stress that often comes with chasing goals. The feelings of failure or impatience will be few and less intense when they do show up. Second, you will also have more motivation to keep going. Here is the grand secret – The big things are made up of lots of little things. Not too mind-blowing huh? You may be tempted to think so, but I am here to tell you that you are wrong. It is the secret to achieving everything we thought we never could.
Do you have a goal you are working on? Do you want to write that book you have been talking about for years? Do you want to finally start that business of your own? Maybe it is something a little more personal like trying to mend a friendship or save a marriage? We often look at those things as a singular event when they are really countless little events. Writing a book takes discipline to write day after day for months and perhaps years. Trust me, I have written two of them. Starting your own business takes planning and many actions before you can call yourself a business owner. Picking a business, exploring locations and names. Developing a business plan and a million other things. How about the personal issues? Mending a friendship or saving a marriage? Let me ask you, did those fall apart overnight? Usually they did not. Even if you are just looking to strengthen a friendship or deepen a marriage, the answer is the same. It is a million different things. It is finding ways to genuinely compliment your spouse daily. It is learning what a friend is passionate about.
This can seem overwhelming at first, but once you dive in, the opposite is true. If I would have fully grasped the truth of this years ago, I would be so much farther in life. If I sat down and tried to write a book one night, I would either end up consuming vast quantities of rum, or having my brain explode. If, instead, I sit down and focus on writing the best chapter or idea that I am currently working on, I will not only be obviously be less stressed, but have a better quality end product. The same is true with my relationship. I always want Margie and I to be more loving and have a closer connection. This is not to say I feel we are unloving or not close, just that I am always looking to improve. I know that this is not going to happen in a single evening. What can happen in a single evening is taking one step to deepen our connection or strengthen our love.
I will give you two more quick examples to help drive this concept home. I recall a story told by the actor Will Smith. He told how his father had him and his brother build a wall one summer. Before they could get started, his father pulled him aside and told him some great advice. “Do not try to build the perfect wall.” he told young Will. “Instead, focus on laying the perfect brick. You do this over and over again and you will have the perfect wall.” It seems logical, but then why do so many of us find this so hard to do? The perfect example is working out. Especially around the first of the year we are all determined to get back in shape. If you are anything like me, you find yourself saying this on August 20th as well. We go in and try to run 460 miles or do a thousand pull ups, get sore and quit before seeing any results. That is why the gyms are full around January 1st, and seem almost empty a month later. What we should be focused on is getting the most out of each workout. Focusing on working the right muscles for the right amount of times. Enough to give us a good workout but still allow us to lift the pencil off the desk at work tomorrow, let alone be able to get out of bed to go to work. We focus on having the best workout we can each time we are at the gym and before we know it, we will look up and see how much better we are in shape. The same holds true for improving your diet, your parenting skills or anything else in life.
The lesson here is instead of being overwhelmed at the prospect of a large goal, become excited at doing each step to the best of your ability. When you do so, celebrate each win. You didn’t complete that book in one sitting, but you wrote one hell of a chapter. Maybe the chapter sucked, but you get that rough first draft out of the way so you can improve it tomorrow. You didn’t go from eating two pounds of bacon in one sitting to a runway model, but you did make it to the gym and walk on the treadmill. Maybe you didn’t make to the gym, but you walked around the block. You still ate way too much pizza, but instead of downing it with root beer, you drank water. Just keep at it and celebrate those wins. Do each step, each day to the best of your ability. Not only will that lead to accomplishing great things, but each day lived to the best of your ability will lead to an amazing life!
Most of us know a great deal of things that would help our lives be better than the one we are currently living. We may even know some of the steps we should take to increase the quality of our life. Yet, even armed with this knowledge, many of us don’t take those actions. As a life coach and self-improvement author, this can be one of the most frustrating things I encounter. So much so, it is often a subject of discussion with my friend Nick when we get together for coffee. The million dollar question is “If people know what to do to improve their lives, and they even know how to do it, then why are they not doing it?”
The answers can seem as complicated and wide-ranging as the people who have them. If we boil it down to the facts, it usually falls into one of two categories. How do I know this? First of all, through this website I communicate with people in over 150 different countries. These include people of all different ages, cultures and geographies. I also connect with many people at book signings and seminars. Plus, I find myself falling victim to this on occasion. If you think it is frustrating wondering why people you are coaching will not take the actions they know will improve their lives, imagine how frustrating it is when you, the coach, do not do it.
Let us look at the reasons why people will not take the actions that they know will make them happier, healthier, wealthier or whatever improvement they are looking to make. The first one is overwhelm. This is one I often suffer from. We tend to look at the entire process instead of the first step. I want to get healthy but I am going to have to eat more vegetables everyday, workout 5 days a week, drink more water and less soda. STOP! Start by making one simple change. Maybe after, or even before, dinner go for a walk around the block. This may seem insignificant but it serves many purposes. It gets the ball rolling. It starts to build momentum. Same can be said for wanting to write a book. You may think of the hours, days, months and sometimes years it will take to complete. Trust me on this one. Instead, just commit to sitting down and writing 1000 words. In many cases, you may find that this progress is moving a little too slow for you and you will find yourself pushing to do more. Add a healthy meal once a week, type 1000 words several times a week. As we mentioned before, you gain momentum.
The danger in this is on occasion the progress can seem so slow that we give up. That is because we forget our why. I have written several posts on the importance of having a strong why. I devote a whole section of it in my new book Living the Dream. For the sake of brevity, we are going to look at how to keep our why strong. The secret is to keep it in front of you. There are 2 ways you can do this, and I highly suggest you make use of both of them. We are motivated as humans in 2 ways – our desire to experience pleasure and to avoid pain. When it comes to motivating ourselves, we should use both. There is no sense in throwing away 50% of our motivation. Let us say our goal is to lose weight. Find a picture of yourself that you do not like. Couple that with a picture of your goal weight. If you don’t have one of yourself, you can find a picture of who you would like to become. Worried about not being healthy for your children or grandchildren? Maybe a picture of them would motivate you as well. You can use these same techniques for any goal you have. Many of you may say “How could I forget why I want to be healthy, I see it in the mirror everyday.” I will be the first to agree that life has a way of reminding us of situations where we might not be quite at our goals. I also know that sometimes I walk into a room and forget why I am there. It is easy to forget that we are pained with how we look in pictures and how much we want to change when there are doughnuts sitting in the break room. Keeping a visual reminder of our goals in front of us increases our chances of success significantly.
When it comes to our goals, remember it is important to just start. I love increasing my happiness and joy in my life. I saw this picture at a place Margie and I like to eat and it made me laugh. Not sure why it seemed so funny to me, but it did. I decided to take a picture of it to look at on occasion and make me laugh. Do the same with your goals. Add one thing, one simple thing. Do this over and over again. You will start to build momentum and it will gradually become easier. Also, be kind to yourself. If you forget, if you mess up do not beat yourself up. Success is seldom and linear journey. Just recommit and refocus. Keeping a picture of our goals in front of us will help that. Do your best to include the pain of what will happen if you do not reach your goal as well as the pleasure of what will happen if you do. Don’t concern yourself with everything you have to do to reach your goal, just start by doing something. You will not only feel better, you will be one step closer to success.
We here at Secret2anamazinglife.com convey what we have to say in a positive manner. That does not mean, however, that we sugar coat things. The quote above is a prime example of that. Recently, I was asked how I manage to maintain a positive attitude daily despite new, and sometimes fairly intense, life challenges. People often ask what was the ‘one thing’ that I did to transform my outlook on life and be able to maintain that positive mindset. The good news is that you can stop looking for that ‘one thing’. The reason being that it is not just one thing, there are several things and they are done daily.
I often use physical fitness as a comparison for self-improvement because the two go hand in hand. In today’s society people are looking for the 6 minute abs routine that will transform their bodies. Some are looking for that one diet, or even diet pill that will do the trick for them. When the trainer tells them it is a daily habit of working in at least 30 minutes of physical activity they are shocked. “I have to do this every day?” It depends how bad you want change. If you really desire to have that healthy and fit body so that you have more energy and less illness, then yes it will take some time and dedication. That is why diets seldom if ever work long term. You need to change your mindset and eating habits, not go on a 28 day diet.
This holds true for any type of self-care. The most common excuse people have for not starting healthy and productive habits is “I don’t have time.” What they are really saying is that it is not a priority for them. If having a healthy body was important to you, then you would make time to go for a daily walk in the park or go to the gym for 30 minutes. Can you find an hour a day to meal prep for the week ahead? If you are dedicated you could. You know that spending 10 minutes a day in quite meditation would greatly reduce your stress, but you just don’t have the time. Then reducing the stress in your life and all the unpleasant side-effects is not a priority for you.
We all are guilty of wasting time. I am no exception. If there is an area of our life that is suffering, we must develop and dedicate ourselves to habits to improve that area. We discussed ways in which that can be done in the physical fitness arena, let us take a look at a few others. Let us say your relationship is not at the level of intimacy you wish it would be. You need to develop a habit that increases that intimacy. You could send your significant other a message on lunch every day letting them know something you are grateful for in your relationship. You could get in the habit of planning a weekly date night with your spouse. If your finances are not where you want them to be, you need to develop a habit of savings and/or investing. That could be as simple as swapping out that gourmet coffee drink you usually stop and spend $5 on for one that can be created at home for $1 or so. You do that 3 times a week you are saving $12. Doesn’t sound like much, but multiplied times the 52 weeks in a year you just saved $624. Simple, small changes in daily habits can make big transformations in our life. There is a simple
We have seen how important changing our habits can be. How can we make sure that we do implement them? More importantly, how can we make that easier to do? Most importantly, how can we make sure that the habits we put in place stick? To answer those questions and more come back and read tomorrow’s post.
Today I share with you a video from my YouTube channel. It contains a challenge those of us at secret2anamazinglife.com are undertaking. We invite you to join us and share your experiences as we share ours.
This challenge will last 30 days. It will improve many areas of your life including, but not limited to; fatigue, headaches, stiff joints, insomnia, digestive issues, skin appearance and may even help you drop a few pounds during the holidays!
This challenge, although very helpful, is safe and simple. All you will need is some water and some will power. Click the link below to watch the 2 minute video and find out how you can join the challenge too!😀
Today so many people are chasing happiness. The look for it in books, retreats, people, relationships, money, cars and a host of other outside influences. The truth, as you may have heard, is that happiness is an inside job. Even my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, teaches you ways to find your inner happiness. Here is another hard truth. If you place your happiness in someone or something else, you are also handing over control of your happiness. They can decide to give you happiness or take it away. If that person or thing should ever leave your life, your happiness will go with it.
Taking all of this into account, how do you gain inner happiness? There are several key components to accomplishing this. Gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to accomplish this. Becoming grateful for what you have in your life, good and bad, is a great key to happiness. We have devoted many posts to this and I invite you to search for some posts. Another great key to happiness can be summed up in one word – PROGRESS. That is why goal setting can be such a strong tool toward happiness and success in life. We once again refer to the quote from our great friend Earl Nightingale – “Success in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” There is that word ‘progress’ again. Working on losing weight and becoming healthier? Maybe you went for a short walk after dinner – progress. Doing your best to write that book that you’ve kept inside you for most of your adult life? Write 500 words – progress. In these and many other examples, you are certain to feel happier once you complete these tasks and become one step closer to your goal.
Another great way to harness the power of progress is through continuing education. Before you begin to worry about student debt, transportation or if you are too old to go back to school, let me put your fears to rest. There are more ways than ever before to educate yourself. I am very interested in the second world war and the psychology behind it. I can pull up videos on YouTube, order books and DVDs from Amazon or look for material on the internet. In addition, there are great sources at my local library. No matter what subject you choose to pursue, gaining knowledge gives us a feeling of accomplishment, or said a different way, progress.
If you add to this gaining knowledge in the field of self-improvement, you will be progressing in two areas simultaneously! You will be both gaining knowledge as well as improving your position in life. Double the progress; double the feelings of joy and happiness. Even if your goal isn’t exactly knowledge based, such as living a healthier lifestyle, gaining knowledge on the subject could be progress. I say could be because it must be followed with action. If you do pair this gaining of knowledge with action, every bit you gain will be progress. Look up what foods have the greatest thermogenic effect? Progress. Viewing and the picking a new workout to try? Progress. Picking out those cute new running shoes and then actually using them to run? Progress.
We are all looking for secrets to an amazing life. One of the key components is happiness. The secret is that to find happiness, look for progress. There are so many avenues in which to do so. Set a goal. Work to increase your knowledge base or combine the two and feel twice the feeling of progress. What in your life are you progressing toward?
In our quest to discover as many secrets to an amazing life as we can, there are many things that can get in our way. One of them is overwhelm. There are so many things to incorporate into our lives that it may prevent us from even beginning. There is meditation, visualization, positive self-talk, getting into the right mindset and a million other secrets and tools we can use. Much like my motivation for writing A Happy Life for Busy People, today I want to take it down to the basic principles that we can use to begin our life transformation. Sure you candeliberate over how to create the perfect vision board or what affirmations will bring about the biggest positive change. Before getting hung up on these details, we should just start with the basics. Oh, and if you are already on your self-improvement journey, trust me, you will benefit from going back to basics.
We are going to use the picture above for our guide. The four principles listed are not only good basics to start with, but they play off each other just like it shows in the picture. Let us start on top with Positive Thinking. If we approach life with the right mindset it can make all of the difference. There are so many ways to develop that mindset feel free to explore what works for you. One of the ways that has helped me the most is having more gratitude in my life. It is very hard to feel grateful and not be positive. No matter what is going on in our lives, there is always, always something to be grateful for. What if your life is a total mess right now and you are just deciding you have to do something because you find yourself on rock bottom? That your journey is just beginning and you will be improving your life a little each day (even though it is important to remember there will still be ups and downs) that is something to be not only grateful for, but excited about. Another great way to start to develop a positive mindset is to try and find the beauty in everything. As you drive to work you can notice the flowers growing in your neighbors yard. Have a coworker who really gets on your last nerve? Be grateful there is someone to help you strengthen your patience and positivity. Not to mention, they help you be grateful for all of the nice people in your life.
Starting to think positively brings us to our next basic tool – Feel Good. When you begin to think good thoughts, you begin to have good feelings. Nothing too tricky there. What is important to think about is what does feeling good do for us? On the most basic level, that kind of is the whole purpose of life. Think about why we do anything in our lives, it is either to feel good or avoid feeling bad. You may be thinking, “If that is true Neil, how come I go to work every day at a job that doesn’t feel good?” because the feeling of not paying your bills and living on the street would feel a lot worse. Even altruistic activities we do fit into this category. I used to help at a meal program once a month. The main reason I did so was because I wanted to give back. Why did I want to give back? I felt it was the right thing to do. Guess what? Doing the right thing had me feeling good. When we feel good we are also far more likely to try new things. This can lead to an expanding of our life. Which can, in turn, lead to more things to have us feeling good. To me, the most important reason to feel good is because it makes it easier to take actions that lead to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Think about your own life, when are you most likely to stray from your healthier eating or exercise routine? When you are stressed? When you find yourself feeling down?
That leads us to the third step in our basic life improvement series – Regular Exercise. While some of you might be cringing or debating about concluding your reading here, rest assured this may not be as tough as you think. Especially if we have focused on developing Positive Thinking and Feeling Good, this will be a little easier. Regular exercise does not mean going to the gym everyday, unless of course that works for you. No, regular exercise, especially in the beginning, can be any physical activity you enjoy. Do you like basketball? Head to the playground and shoot around for an hour a day. Perhaps walking in nature and looking for different kinds of birds is your thing? Then make a trip to different parks several times a week. Maybe you would much rather be shopping than doing any kind of exercise? How about a walk around the mall? You could even get a little resistance training depending on how much you buy. Just make sure to avoid laps around the food court as it may undo all of your hard work. You can even mix a couple of these together in a week. The secret here is to find something that is fun for you, yet requires some physical activity. Another great tool to use here is an activity tracker. You don’t necessarily need to purchase an expensive Fitbit. Most smart phones have free apps that allow you to track much of your activity as well as other healthy aspects. Even a simple step counter can be fun. Set a daily and weekly goal for yourself and then find fun ways to reach it.
I saved this one for last because for many of us, myself included, it can be the most difficult. Eat Better. That sounds simple enough, and it really is. Think about what eating better entails. No crazy diets. No skipping this and having to eat that. It is just eating better in general. Less pizza, more vegetables. I know, writing that line was even a little painful for me. Still, eating healthier is not that tricky and like regular exercise, does not have to be that painful. Let us take the example of eating more vegetables. What is your favorite? Margie’s is corn. I rather enjoy green beans. We try to work in a vegetable with each meal at home. If they are ones we like, we are far more likely to eat them. The more vegetables we consume, the less room we have for stuff that is not so good for us. Think of snacks too. This is a place where a lot of damage can be done to our diets. Try to find a healthy snack you enjoy and make it convenient. Do you enjoy snacking on carrots or cucumbers? Have some washed, sliced and ready to be enjoyed. This is where a little meal prep can make a big difference. The same trick can be used for healthy meals. Think of a healthy dish and prepare it ahead of time.
From my experience, the greatest challenge to Eating Better is time. We are running around with a million different things to do and our diets are the sacrifice. We often settle for fast food because…well…it is fast. Plan accordingly. Perhaps on a board in your kitchen write down meals that are quick to prepare but still healthy. If you don’t even have time for that, make note of some of the ‘healthiest’ meals you can order out. Here is another GREAT way to motivate yourself to eat healthy. Note how many calories you burn doing certain activities. For example, on an elliptical machine I know I can burn 700 calories (give or take) in an hour. If you run a mile you burn, on average, 150 calories. These numbers vary depending on the individuals, but serve as a good example. Next, look at what you eat. There are 563 calories in a Big Mac. Doing the math, you would 3.5 miles to burn off one Big Mac. When you are sweating and near hyperventilating at the end of your workout and find that you burned 700 calories, are you really that keen to replace 563 of them with one greasy sandwich? Now, there are roughly 3500 calories in a pound of fat. Multiply that by how many pounds you care to lose. This is how many more calories you will have to burn than you consume. This may seem like an insurmountable number. A mere 10 pounds is 35,000 calories. This is why it is important to understand that weight loss takes time. You can also understand why losing 2 to 3 pounds a week is a great accomplishment.
Working on these 4 basic principles can transform your life in big ways. It can also be easy and fun. Looking for things to be grateful for and finding the beauty in everything? That’s fun. Finding different things that make us feel good? Also a fun check mark there. Regular exercise fun? Yes! If it is an activity that we enjoy. Eating healthy can be fun when we understand it does not have to involve restrictive diets and starvation. We need to incorporate more of the healthy foods we enjoy and even experiment with new healthy recipes to dazzle our taste buds while at the same time helping our waistlines. These 4 areas are broad categories and leave plenty of room for customizing it to fit our individual liking.
Today’s post is one that is simple, not complicated. It should be easy to do then, right? I have learned in my over 2 decades of work in the self-improvement field you should never confuse the word simple with the word easy. Sometimes the simplest things in life can be the most difficult to do on a regular basis. Even if we know what to do, having the strength and will to do so can be a different story all together.
That brings us to today’s step in our ’10 steps to happiness’. That step is Frown less, smile more. There are many studies from some of the most prestigious universities that prove the physical act of smiling can go a long way to improving your emotional state. There is even one study where they took clinically depressed individuals and had them do nothing but smile in a three-way mirror for a scheduled amount of time and the results they experienced either rivaled or surpassed the prescription medication they were on. Of course, the economic ramifications of this will reduce the chances that we will see more such tests.
The results are there. From a personal standpoint, how do we feel when someone smiles at us? Even if they have the audacity to do that to us when we are trying to remain in a bad mood, it will, if only for the moment, bring us a certain amount of joy. Often, the act of receiving a smile will cause us to return one of our own. Get one from a puppy dog or small child and you can all but kiss that bad day goodbye! How does it feel when you receive a genuine loving smile from that special person in your life? I can tell you that nothing gives me a greater sense of pride or accomplishment than to see a smile on Margie’s face and knowing I had put it there. (Not to mention her beauty shines through the most when she smiles. It is like a ray of sunshine)
If all of these smiles feel so good, if there is even scientific evidence to back up the physical benefits of smiling, why do we not smile more? Some of us are self-conscious of our smiles. Maybe we even have dental reasons to feel so. Keeping that in mind, you don’t have to flash your teeth like you are a used car salesman or a star on an infomercial. Although, it does bear mentioning that a smile can even be an effective business tool. Even an upturn at the end of our lips and a little sparkle in the eye can be joy to anyone’s soul. Someone who smiles is automatically more attractive. Don’t believe me? Think of those weight loss commercials. The have a before and after picture. Guess which one is smiling? The one after they have used the latest miracle pill.
Sometimes the act of smiling takes effort. There are many people, myself included, who when concentrating or otherwise involved have a stern look on their face. If we were to take a deep breath and smile, it would not only undoubtedly make us feel better, but would also refresh our brains so that we may better concentrate on the task at hand. Whatever you are doing today, make sure to take a few moments out of your day to offer a smile to as many folks as you can. it will help increase both your happiness and theirs. That is what you call a win/win situation.