There are many things you can do to start loving your life, but first and foremost, you must start by loving yourself. I am not talking about conceit or narcissism. I am talking about loving your Spirit, your Soul, your Body and your Mind, just as they are at this very moment. Sure, we can all improve ourselves, and in fact we must always strive to do so, but until you love yourself as you are in the present moment, you will forever be chasing the someone that you want to be, not who you are.
I invite you to undertake the following challenges, and see how your life begins to change.
Feed Your Body Well
The human body is a truly remarkable creation. It is designed to function optimally without much thought or effort. Unfortunately, with the popularity of fast food and convenience foods, which are filled with simple carbohydrates, sodium and preservatives, nutrition has suffered greatly.
Add to this busy lives, mindless and emotional eating, and what you have is a recipe for less than optimal nutrition. If our bodies are not nourished, they start breaking down.
Think about how you feel after you overindulge in your favorite comfort food. I personally love a good mac n cheese now and then, and as I’m eating it, it’s wonderful creamy goodness makes me supremely happy. Ten minutes after I’m done, however, I feel heavy, lethargic and definitely not happy. It is precisely this feeling of yuck that keeps me on track with a healthier diet. Don’t get me wrong, an indulgence now and again is not a bad thing, but when the indulgences become the norm, the health of your body pays the price.
Challenge: Take one day out of your week to eat 100% clean. No processed foods, no sugar, no simple carbs, minimal sodium. If it comes in a package, don’t eat it. Put only fresh vegetables and lean protein into your body and see how you feel. Drink lots of water. If you feel inspired after the first day, go for two days, then three. Trust me, you will get to the point where you feel so darn good that you will wonder why your didn’t do this earlier.
Feed Your Mind Well
In today’s high tech, social media driven world, attention spans have truly taken a hit. Media-bytes seem to be the order of the day, providing news or entertainment in 3 minutes or less.
Reading books is no longer the norm, being replaced by digital podcasts, audiobooks and streaming. We have become a society of passive imagination, with the need to multi-task in everything we do. As a result, our minds are cluttered with information and always focused on the two steps ahead of the present.
When was the last time that you spent any part of your day reading a book? Not a tell-all, controversial political tome, but a book that carries you off into another time or another place? A book in which you completely lose yourself and are sorry to see end? Reading dissolves away the stresses of the day and helps your brain by departing from routine thoughts of stress and worry, and firing those lesser used neural pathways, which stoke brain function, creativity and imagination.
Challenge: Buy a fiction novel (preferably non-digital if you are able), and schedule non-negotiable time on your calendar as “reading time.” This can be an hour, an afternoon, or an entire day, but make sure the time you set aside is non-negotiable. If you live with others, make sure that they know that you are not to be disturbed during your reading time. Most importantly, leave your phone in another room and turn off the ringer!
Make your reading time special. Find a comfortable location, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and really allow yourself to become immersed in the story you have chosen. This time that you set aside to allow yourself the special joy of reading will melt away stress and improve your mood.
Get to Know Yourself
When you are first getting to know someone, be it a potential romantic partner, a potential friend, or a business associate, there is the initial “get to know you” phase where you are curious about the other person. Part of developing a connection with the other person is finding out what they like and don’t like, how they spend their time, their aspirations and dreams. You ask questions, you listen, and you develop a connection with that person.
Have you ever done that with yourself? Have you ever truly sat down and asked yourself what makes you happy? What are your likes and dislikes? What are your dreams? Many go through life never asking these questions, instead reacting to everything life throws at them. By living reactively, dreams get ignored and overshadowed by the busyness of life. You start focusing on what you don’t like. If you’ve ever read anything about the Law of Attraction, living this way will simply attract more of what you don’t like to you. (But that’s for another post!)
Challenge: Make some alone time to get to know yourself. Take yourself out on a date, whether it’s a drive to the beach, a solo lunch or a trip to the bookstore to peruse some new titles (see what I did there?). Travel. Experience new cuisines. Meditate. Write. Paint. As you are getting to know yourself, journal about your experiences, focusing on the ones that make you feel good, at home and on purpose. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, refer back to your journal and smile, knowing that life is not about all of the bad stuff that happens, but more so about the happiness that lies in your very own self.