Most of us dream of doing better in life, at least compared to our current state. We assume to improve our lives we must make some drastic changes. While that’s true to a certain extent, it’s not necessarily applicable for the things I’m going to talk about.
Yes, if you are morbidly overweight you’ll have to make a drastic lifestyle change to drop the excess fat. You’ll be required to switch to a healthier and more restrictive diet for the weight loss to come. You’ll also need to exercise and pretty much update your whole daily routine to reach your goal of getting to a healthy weight. Here’s what they don’t tell you, though: the real changes you make that actually last aren’t the drastic ones, they are the small, manageable everyday changes that stick with you.
If you go on crash diets your weight is likely to yo-yo up and down for who knows how long. These types of drastic changes temporarily fix your problem, but they don’t solve the root cause. But if you focus on the smaller issues—the issues you have more control over—you’ll have a much better chance of reaching your goal and maintaining the life changes you’ve made.
Here’s an example: you can lose an incredible amount of weight by going on a very calorie restrictive diet and intense exercise program, but once you reach your goal weight and go back to eating more normally you’ll gain a good bit of weight back. But if you slowly decrease your daily food portions, increase exercise frequency weekly, and make healthy choices hourly, you’ll also lose the weight but have a way higher statistical chance of keeping it off. This is because you did things the right way and made steady progress which your body and mind could handle. Now, here’s where things get good: this same principle applies to all facets of your life. Small daily changes can improve your life much more efficiently and permanently compared to drastic or impulsive changes. Much like losing weight, these 5 small things can drastically improve your life without being quite so drastic at all.
5. Force Yourself To Smile
Well, this already sounds like a hippie-dippy steaming pile of bullplop, doesn’t it? How the hell can forcing yourself to smile everyday improve your life? That’s a reasonable question, so here’s a reasonable answer: it’s all about being positive. Positive thinking can improve your attitude, help you make better decisions, give you better focus, and makes it easier to build and maintain healthy relationships with others. Forcing a smile boosts positive thinking, even when you aren’t happy. And the best part, smiling doesn’t cost anything!
That’s right, smiling is something we can all do. But before you hit the X in the top right corner and banish DPW from your browser history due to thinking we are some lame and fictitious self-help website, you should know that this is actually backed by science. Yup, forcing yourself to smile is scientifically proven to improve your mood and mental state. But don’t take my word for it, check out this study done by psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales.
4. Do Something Diffcult Everyday
Right off the bat I’m going to tell you this doesn’t mean you need to fist fight grizzly bears or break unsolvable codes. It just means you do something challenging everyday. You see, we tend to avoid things that are hard in life. Why take the stairs when there’s a perfectly good elevator right next to them? Why sweat your ass off in the gym when you can relax comfortably on the couch watching TV? I think you can already see the flaw in taking the easy route. It’s not only your physical health that suffers, though.
If you never challenge yourself you’ll never know what you are capable of physically and mentally. You won’t know your own strength and therefore you’ll always have this slight sense of insecurity. You’ll doubt yourself in tough times and may experience feelings of worthlessness or even full-blown depression. When it comes down to it, facing and conquering challenges is extremely rewarding for us. Luckily, we live in a period of time where we can create our own challenges to conquer instead of them coming at us. Like how our great ancestors had to fight off wolves and stuff on the daily.
If you want to improve your life, start by creating a goal you want to reach. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy like winning the Moab 200. Something small yet challenging will work just fine. It could be something as simple as going to the gym a certain number of days a week, or writing 3000 words a day for your current WIP. These are doable challenges and will greatly improve how you feel about yourself and your life.
Few things feel personally as good as accomplishing what you set out to do. Even something dumb like cleaning your house and finishing the errands you planned for the day can make you feel like a million bucks. This is because you did something you didn’t want to do. You tackled an obstacle that caused you discomfort. Humans thrive on overcoming challenging situations. When it comes down to it we are problem solvers. Our minds are wired in such a way that we find pleasure in finishing difficult tasks.
3. Create Daily Goals
This kind of goes with the previous entry but it’s a bit more detailed. A great way to make improvements in your life is to create daily goals. The best way to do this is to write down all your goals for the week in a day planner or calendar. I recommend using Google Calendar on your phone.
Using the Google Calendar is simple and very user-friendly. Of course, plain old pen and paper work just as well. The important thing is that you write down your daily goals and stick to them. What’s awesome about writing down your goals is that it actually makes you stick with them more often instead of blowing them off. There’s just something about physically writing your goals down that makes it seem more “real” and conversely, more important to you.
2. Look At The Bigger Picture
It’s easy to let yourself get bogged down with the grind of everyday life. Unimportant irritants at home or work wreck your mood. You can’t stop thinking about small problems you’ll have to face in the upcoming days. You might even feel guilty because you aren’t accomplishing as much as you’d like at this point in your life. Here’s the thing, though. This type of thinking doesn’t do anything but hold you back.
One of the best ways to improve your life instantly is to look at the bigger picture. Realize your place in the world and compare your problems with those who have it much worse than you. It’s important to take time to evaluate where you are, what’s important and not important to you, and if the things you’ve been focusing on or stressing over really matter in the long run. Often times, they don’t matter. So, don’t let yourself get caught up in the small stuff. At least once a day you should take yourself out of the moment and think about what’s most important to you. You’ll quickly find things like petty work grievances and minor home annoyances don’t bother you nearly as much as you thought.
1. Do At Least One Thing You Enjoy Everyday
Stop and think about how often you do the things you enjoy. I’m talking about the things you really enjoy. You’ll probably find you don’t do these things nearly enough. The problem is, if you don’t do these things regularly, you probably aren’t enjoying life all that much, either. And if you aren’t enjoying life that much, what’s the point of continuing down the path you’re currently on?
People lose sight of what makes them happy because they get too focused on work, raising a family, and or dealing with personal relationships. And while these things are very important and in need of your attention, you still need to focus on yourself a lot more than you probably do. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. Hell, it’s a necessity for good mental health.
Improving your life starts with your attitude. The best way to develop a positive attitude is by doing things that make you happy. Doing things that make you happy on a daily basis means you’re much more likely to be in a positive frame of mind most of the time. And if I may reiterate, this leads to increased work productivity, lower stress levels, and better relationships with others. And while you might feel bad at first for taking time out of your day to focus on yourself, you need to remember why you are doing so in the first place.
The two types of people who tend to ignore the things they enjoy are parents and workaholics. They put their own happiness on the back burner for work or their kids. Unfortunately, this can lead to depression, drug and alcohol dependency, and high stress levels. You should never feel bad about taking time out for yourself. The day is never as busy as you are making it out to be. And if it is, you’re probably putting way too much on your plate and need to reorganize your priorities. You only have one life, don’t waste it being miserable.
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