I have a print framed in my living room that says “there’s something good in every day.” I truly believe that. Sometimes, a day is so rotten there doesn’t seem to be anything to be positive about. But, you woke up and got to live another day. I think we’ve all seen enough on the news to know that’s a blessing. I talked a little bit about attitudes and how they can make something like a crummy day be an adventure or an ordeal in my post yesterday. I’m expanding a bit on that today.
It can take some time to re-frame your approach. I went through a span of about a year where I was just down about everything. The book The Secret was peeking in popularity around that time. Desperate to improve my situation, I picked up a copy, read it in one sitting, and put some of the principles into action. There haven’t been any million dollar checks casually showing up in my mailbox, but my attitude and approach did change, resulting in a much more positive outlook on life.
Today, I’m listing out 20 of my tried and trues ways to improve your life.
I do most, if not all, of these things on a daily or at least weekly basis. Take what you want, leave the rest.
Practice gratitude. If there is only one thing you take away from this post, it’s to practice gratitude. Make a list of things you’re grateful for and read it each day. Create a gratitude journal and write something in it each day. Whatever works for you. When I started practicing gratitude, I was a list maker. Now, at the end of the day, I write down one thing from the day that I’m grateful for in my planner. It’s uplifting to look back on.
Move your body. In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” In addition to improving moods, exercise is so good for one’s overall health. Whether you take a barre class, practice yoga in your living room, go for a leisurely walk, or run 10 miles, try to move your body for 30 minutes, every day.
Read a book. I like to wind down by reading a chapter or two of whatever book I’m currently reading. Reading is also a great way to take your mind somewhere else for a while.
Write out your goals. Writing out my goals isn’t something I do every week, but I try to do it at least once a month. Goals change, for one thing. You reach a goal or a timeline shifts or you decide something isn’t for you after all. Writing out goals is also a great way to visualize them and track your progress.
Move the TV. If you have a TV in your bedroom, move it. This isn’t so much a weekly thing as a one and done thing, but no TV in the bedroom means no distractions. It’s a lot easier to go to bed at a decent hour if you don’t get sucked into Jimmy Fallon, just because the TV happens to be on.
Go outside. Nature has a calming effect. Whether you sit on your porch or go for a hike, spend some time outside, especially when you’re feeling stressed. Breathe deep, let go, and let nature do its job.
Play with your dog. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I come home and my appearance causes Knox to lose all chill. I make it a point to sit on the floor and play with him every day. Spend time with your pets – dogs, cats, rabbits, whatever – they are instant mood boosters, and it means just as much to them.
Journal. Take 5 minutes at the end of every day to write out your thoughts, recap your day, whatever. You can write a sentence or fill pages. Sometimes, I sit down with something in mind to journal about. Other times, I let my pen do the talking. Those times are typically when I stumble across some big “aha!” moment.
Sit quietly. This one is a game changer. When I get overwhelmed or frustrated at work, I leave my desk and go somewhere quiet for a few minutes. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, find a quiet spot and just breathe. No phones, no computers, no people. Hit the reset button and return to life in a better place.
Drink coffee. Or tea. The feeling of something warm in my hands is always soothing. I drink a lot of coffee, but tea works well too, especially when stressed out. Brew a pot or a kettle, add some cream and sugar, and sip your way to a better place.
Do daunting things first. That thing on your to-do list you’re dreading? Just do it. Tackle it first. Getting that big to-do out of the way frees up space and takes the metaphorical weight off your shoulders.
Meet up with friends. Nothing can lift your spirits quite like friends. If you can’t meet up in person, chat on the phone or FaceTime for a few minutes. Friends have a way of helping us put things into perspective.
Clean it up. Is your space full of clutter? Clean it up. Even if its just mail tossed on the counter, tidying up the area will help clear mental clutter as well. I always breathe better when I have a clean space to work in.
Don’t complain – unless. Don’t complain about your circumstances unless you have a solution. Complaining just puts negativity out there. Take a deep breath and move on unless you have a proposed solution to the issue at hand ready to go.
Make eye contact. How often do you actually make eye contact when someone is speaking with you? Making eye contact not only lets the other person know you’re present, it helps you focus and center, too.
Listen. We spend a lot of time listening to respond. Listen just to listen – sometimes that’s all another person wants, to be heard. Stop and genuinely listen when having a conversation.
Make your bed. Sure, making the bed is a chore. But, it’s been proven that the simple act of making your bed can set you up for success for the rest of the day. Plus, it’s rather nice to come home to a made bed after a long day.
Compliment someone. Everyone likes receiving compliments. I’ve made it a practice to issue at least one compliment per day. Sometimes its to a co-worker with a cute top. Other times, it’s to a stranger with a great bag. I especially like complimenting strangers – they always seem to light up just a bit more.
Pay it forward. A small act of kindness goes a long way. Pay for someone’s coffee. Buy a breakfast sandwich for a friend at the office. Give the homeless man you pass every morning a $5 bill. These small acts not only make someone else’s day, they bolster yours as well.
Sitcoms. When all else fails, I turn on an episode of Friends. I’ve seen every episode at least ten times over, but I still laugh every time. Put on a favorite 30 minute sitcom you know will make you laugh and get comfy on the couch.
After all, laughter is the best medicine.
What are some of the small ways you improve your life?