Better Than I Was11:23 AM
Guys I've been on a quest for a few years now. The goal? Betterment (is that a word?) You see for years I followed little "resolutions" I would grandly declare on the first day of the new year that all lead to nothing, of course. Bikram! I will write 350 words every day! Sugar is satan's bastard child! Yoga every day all day! No more wire hangers (literally)! And then one day I had a lightbulb moment and decided from that day forward that I wouldn't attempt to "lose weight," "read more," "eat better," etc... Now I would simply commit myself every year, every month, every week and every day to be, even to the smallest degree, a slightly better version of myself today than I was yesterday.
There are some themes that have emerged since I started this journey that have helped keep me on the right track and moving forward. Little guidelines that continue to keep me focused on bettering myself. And so in case any of you find yourselves on the same path I am sharing what I've learned so far and what has worked for me.
Surround yourself with positive, kind, intelligent and happy people.Here's the thing - getting rid of "toxic" individuals in your life is extremely important but not because you're some sort of paragon of perfection and light, but because toxic individuals will tempt you to indulge in parts of your character or personality that will drag you down. Being around negative, critical, cynical, gossipy and mean people is like hanging out with a bunch of chain smokers when you are trying to quit. You're no better than them but being around them makes you want to "smoke," i.e. - gossip, judge or criticize so bad. So it's best to not go there. Cut those people out and replace them with people who challenge you to think kinder, be more forgiving, see the good in others and celebrate beauty, love and joy. Slowly but surely you will start to see these qualities rubbing off on you.
Nourish your mind and soul at least on a monthly if not weekly or daily basis.Whether you read ten books a week or one a year start including inspirational, "self-help," or simply books outside of your comfort zone in your "diet." Not one for spirituality? Pick up a book about a religion that has always intrigued you. Are you pragmatic and numbers oriented? Read a book focused on feelings and thoughts. Do you usually devour the likes of "Eat, Pray, Love?" Pick up something on a more concrete subject such as a book that's a study of the mind or the latest scientific breakthrough. And no matter what religion (or lack thereof) or belief system you have find a way to inspire yourself daily through the words of people that have accomplished wonderful things (notice I didn't say "great" or "successful"). Perhaps find a book of poetry that you notice has a positive effect on your mind and soul.
Educate yourself about the human body and how it relates to food and exercise.Full disclosure - I believe bbq was thought up by angel unicorns that live in a giant rainbow colored heart somewhere up in the sky and if I could partake of it for every meal (breakfast included) I would. People tell me that is not the brightest idea. So I don't do it. I also don't do diets and I don't go to the gym. But I am constantly finding ways to eat mindfully, give my body what it requires both in food and exercise and opening my mind to the possibility that the way I've been living isn't necessarily "the right way." I'm no crazy organic/gluten/gym rat/juicing/fasting/cleansing woman but I do find myself gravitating more and more to foods that are grown locally, responsibly, are seasonal and low in carbs, sugar and salt. I am also blessed to live in a beautiful area so any time I can I like to spend it outside walking, running or simply breathing in the clean air. Whether or not I lose weight is not of consequence to me, however, how I feel is. And it's pretty simple - when I eat better and move my body at least a minimal amount I feel better.
Say some nice things every once in awhile to someone.This one seems pretty obvious but I have found that occasionally when life gets busy and hard I become heavy handed with the complaints and very scant with my compliments. And so instead I decided to remind/measure/track how often I say nice things. Sometimes it means leaving someone a sweet compliment, sometimes it's writing a card or a letter, sometimes it's a chicken soup for the soul phone call with a loved one and sometimes it's giving that sexy husband of mine a big hug and telling him exactly just how awesome he is. Doing this usually makes me feel all tingly and hyper and makes me want to tell more people nice things so it's kind of a self-replenishing exercise. Highly recommend it.
Stop thinking you are entitled to anything like yesterday.Honestly guys this is probably my biggest revelation. It was a few years ago now that I realized that approximately 75% of my life's frustrations were coming from the fact that I thought that I was entitled to anything I happened to covet. Other people's lavish vacations, a certain bloggers closet, a friend's house, an acquaintance's job. Turns out entitlement begets coveting which begets hating your life so... So I realized that essentially we are actually not even entitled to the next breath that we could potentially take. Which means that the fact that you ate a meal, went to sleep with a blanket, told someone you loved them and have a little corner of your own to call home probably means you are already winning at life. And... spoiler alert... if you learn to be grateful for, appreciate and celebrate these things you will notice how little you actually covet. Just think about it this way: if that blogger didn't have a blog, or that person didn't have an instagram would your life be any different? But when looking at their lives you for some odd reason think it is? Lesson learned: don't allow someone else's shine to dull yours. Your life is brilliantly awesome just the way it is. Those people don't have better lives, they're just better at celebrating theirs. Your life is a party if you make it so.
Those are just a few things I've learned that have seemed to make a difference and really help. And because this is a journey and it's never going to be over I turn the floor over to you and I ask: what is one thing you do every day, week, month or year that you believe has made you a better person? I know we will all benefit from helping each other on this quest!