"Self-Help." It's a common term these days. I love it because it empowers me to take ownership of who I am and what I am creating around me. It's clear that if I choose to create an amazing life, it is going to require action. I can choose to be a passive bystander or an active participant. I choose the latter. Here are 15 reasons why you should, too.
1. Connect with yourself and others
According to a Harvard Study entitled "The 75-Year Study That Found The Secrets To A Fulfilling Life" it all comes down to connection. The study findings show "strong relationships to be far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction."
2. Live in the present
Have you ever found yourself worrying about the future or feeling depressed about the past? By making the conscious choice to be present and mindful we create deeper and richer experiences. Additionally, being present when talking with family and friends is crucial. People can tell when your thoughts are elsewhere. Do yourself a favor and choose to be present for them and you. You will be happy you did and find more fulfillment in your time spent with others.
3. Create always
How do you feel after you have prepared a homemade meal, built Legos with your children or made a sandcastle? We were born to create. When you think about the bigger picture and creating yourself, who do you want to become? Create an "I AM" statement or mantra and fake it until you make it if you have to. For example, "I am a strong, secure, and confident woman. Through embracing myself fully I create love for myself and others." Every moment we have the opportunity to re-invent ourselves. Who will you choose to be right now? If you need a little pep talk, Oprah is here to dish it out:
4. Cultivate an "Attitude of Gratitude."
"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." - Brian Tracy
Harvard Health Publications put out an article which claimed that "In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."
It's a wonder to me that we have a Holiday designated for Thanksgiving. How amazing would our lives be if we cultivated an attitude of gratitude and practiced "ThanksLIVING" daily.
5. Choose a mentor wisely
You can have a mentor for life, business, relationships - you name it! Think about it, in almost every Disney movie there is a mentor of some kind helping to guide the main character on his or her path to accomplishment and success. Need help choosing? No problem. U.S. News & World Report provides us with "13 Tips on Finding a Mentor."
6. Give your body the gift of rest and relaxation
The American Psychology Association presented a challenge to sleep an extra 60-90 minutes per night in order to make one happier, healthier and safer. The recommendation is eight hours of sleep or more per night. According to the article, "Consistently failing to get enough sleep is the biological equivalent of consistently spending more money than you make." No one wants to be in debt. It can have serious ramifications and create unnecessary stress. Think about that the next time you contemplate pulling an "all-nighter".
7. Five ways to eat for happiness
According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, there are 5 rules of eating that will lead to greater health and happiness. Dr. Ramsey explains that mental health issues like depression and anxiety are highly linked to the Standard American Diet (SAD). It's challenging to feel like you have an amazing life when you are feeling anxious or depressed. Here are his five tips:
1. Skip the Processed Foods.
2. Go Organic.
3. Don't Fear Fats.
4. Mind Your Meat.
5. Make Friends with farmers.
8. Cleanse Your body
Do you ever find yourself craving sugar? You are not alone. In 2009, the Harvard School of Public Health, reported, "The average 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and the average teenage boy consumes nearly three cans of sugary drinks a day." This is more than ½ cup of sugar per day for these young men.
One of my wise wellness teachers once shared with me something so profound. He said, "Once you find the sweetness in life, you will no longer rely on sugar." I didn't realize how much I was depending on sugar (and food, in general) to make me happy and feel good. I made a conscious effort to focus on the sweetness of the company versus what we would be eating - especially for dessert.
After going on a 21-Day Sugar Fast, I could feel my body responding in a positive way. I felt like I could feel more - especially emotionally since the sugar wasn't there to numb any emotions. It was then that I started the process of becoming more mindful that my body is a temple, and what I put in it affects me. The food-mood connection is real. Try going on a sugar fast for 21 days and see how and what you feel.
9. Cleanse Your mind - Positive Self-Talk is key
According to author Polly Campbell, "Positive self-talk can help you win the race -or the day."
Her advice? "When you become aware of what you're thinking and saying to yourself you can then edit and revise the snarky voices with phrases that empower you or at least help you better manage the situation at hand."
10. Cleanse your spirit - Find a spiritual practice that grounds you
In his article, Why Be Spiritual? Five Benefits of Spirituality, Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., discusses how a search for something sacred is a very relevant topic today. "Religion, meditation, yoga, or even personal reflection" are all means to approach the realm of spirituality. Howell provides the following five benefits of spirituality:
Spiritual people are gracious.
Spiritual people are compassionate.
Spiritual people flourish.
Spiritual people self-actualize.
Spiritual people take time to savor life experiences.
When it comes to creating an amazing life it appears that Spirituality (whatever that means to you) is key.
11. Establish healthy boundaries for your life
According to author Judith Sills, "Wielded wisely, 'No' is an instrument of integrity and a shield against exploitation. It often takes courage to say. It is hard to receive. But setting limits sets us free."
Have you seen how setting boundaries in your own life can set you free? There is power in honoring ourselves and saying "No" in a firm yet polite way. Still writes,
"No says, 'This is who I am; this is what I value; this is what I will and will not do; this is how I will choose to act."
12. Let go of anything that isn't serving you
This is so much easier to say than do, but with a little effort it is possible. Holding onto guilt, worry and anxiety is like holding onto poison. Oftentimes these things we hold on to keep us from progressing and being our greatest selves.
13. Set SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely
How do you feel when you hear the words "goal-setting"? Do you cringe or feel anxious? Goals often go unset for fear of failure to achieve. That's why SMART people design goals with this template in mind. Be sure the goal is specific and measurable. Is this a goal that can be achieved? Is it relevant to your life and is it pertinent and timely in this stage of your life?
14. Accept that perfectionism is the enemy of progress
Have you ever started writing a letter or assignment only to stall out at the first sentence because you wanted it to be perfect? Or perhaps you have never allowed your self to develop strong emotional connections with others because you aren't quite where you want to be yet? Whatever the case, if the desire to have something or someone (including yourself) be perfect, you and your progress will be paralyzed. As you accept that there is beauty and perspective in imperfection, the process becomes much easier.
15. Help others - Help yourself
"People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness," according to Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota. If this is true, then helping others helps us help ourselves.
Listen up parents! This is the part I find most interesting about youth volunteerism. Research links youth volunteering to a higher quality of life as an adult. Studies show that participating in high school tends to boost participating in adulthood, which is related to enhanced well-being.
What is the clear message for parents? Get your children involved in community volunteer programs.
How are you going to choose to make your life amazing today? I challenge you to pick one of these 15 ways and test it out for yourself. See if it makes a difference for you in your life. Be amazing. Be you. Be well.
Written by Jamie Relei for Healthy Living