Improving your life doesn’t need to be a massive overhaul. Taking simple steps each day to implement new habits can lead to enormously positive changes.
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Remember Your Why
Why is it that you get out of bed and do what you do each day?
In his popular book Start with Why, Simon Sinek uses the analogy of a golden circle to describe his approach to leadership. At the centre of the circle is his ‘why’ – his bigger picture purpose. The next concentric circle is ‘how’ he intends to achieve his goals and the last details ‘what’ these goals are.
To do today: Draw/create your own ‘golden circle’, and place it somewhere you look as you wake up each morning.
Practising the art of gratitude can encourage you when things get tough. Exploring what you’re grateful for will create positive emotions, as well as helping to focus your creative energy.
Many find that hand-writing in a journal each day helps them anchor feelings of positivity and appreciation.
Divide your gratitude lists into the most important areas of your life. These could include career and lifestyle, body and wellbeing, and love and family.
Remember that specificity increases the feeling of gratitude. Instead of listing the same general themes time and again, include detailed descriptions of gratitude-worthy moments specific to a particular day.
To do today: Start a daily gratitude journal or practice.
Focus on Feeling
We live in a results-obsessed society that applauds us for operating on achievement autopilot, often treating feelings as obstacles in the way of reaching our goals. And yet – if we really stop to think about it – it eventually becomes clear that everything we do is driven by a desire to feel a certain way.
How do you want to feel when you get the job, make the money, buy the home? Have you found yourself achieving any of these externally oriented goals and still long for some elusive sense of joy, peace or fulfilment?
Do you want to earn a specific amount of money a year, or do you want to feel abundant and secure? Try to adjust your focus to the way you want to feel, and set and pursue your goals from there.
To do today: Choose two or three feelings you’d like to experience more in your daily life. Write them on a post-it note or save them on your phone, and think about whether your goals and behaviours are moving you closer towards or further away from them.
Choose Your Filters
We’re each living through the lens of our own private reality – one that is shaped by our automatic system’s attempts at allocating our attention to the right thing. We experience an incomplete, subjective version of reality – one that may not serve us. We can’t switch off our automatic system’s filtering function (it is, after all, automatic), but we can adjust the settings by being more proactive in defining our perceptual filters.
In How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb suggests taking some time to consciously set our filters each day by defining our AIM, ATTITUDE and ATTENTION.
Think about what’s most important to you on any given day. What do you want to achieve more than anything else? What matters most to you right now?
Notice and acknowledge the concerns that are dominating your thoughts and mood. Are they standing between you and your aim?
Where do you want to consciously focus your attention to override your default attitude and achieve your aim?
To do today: Set your aim, attitude and attention for the day, and proceed accordingly.
Practise Mindful Moments
While mindfulness may seem like an intangible concept, it’s really just the act of being aware of your body, breath, thoughts and surroundings in the present moment.
Developing greater awareness can open us to seeing how the mind becomes entangled in its own attachments and aversions. Mindfulness can help us see, with greater clarity, how we can approach our moment-to-moment experience more skillfully, taking more pleasure in the good things that often go unnoticed, and dealing more effectively with the difficulties we encounter (both real and imagined). The more you practise, the easier it becomes.
A SIMPLE MINDFULNESS EXERCISE
PAUSE for a moment.
FOCUS on something with all your attention.
RETURN your attention to your point of focus without judging yourself when it drifts away.
To-do today: Pause, focus and return your attention to at least one mindful moment.
As highlighted by popular breathwork teacher Dan Brulé, breathing is the only system in the body that is both automatic and also under our control. It is “an invitation, an opportunity to take part in our own nature and evolution.”
There are details in the way you breathe that you have probably never observed and explored, and these can act as doorways that lead you to new and profound abilities. “Mastering the breath is a major skill if you want to become a high performing individual and enhance every aspect of your life,” shares Brulé.
Take some time out today to practise this conscious breathing exercise:
- -Sit comfortably, close your eyes and gently place your hands on your belly.
- -Breathe in for a count of five seconds, and out for a count of five seconds. Spend some time settling into this rhythm, making it as smooth and steady as possible.
Inhale, 2, 3, 4, 5
Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5
Inhale, 2, 3, 4, 5
Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5
- -Repeat for five minutes, and observe how your body and mind feel when you gently open your eyes.
To do today: Take a few moments to consciously focus on your breath.
Eat for Success
The nutritional field is varied and vast, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There are, however, a few foundational principles that can serve us all well…
- -Foods grown or raised without pesticides, hormones or antibiotics wherever possible.
- -Non-organic dairy and meat.
- -Organic produce whenever possible, avoiding the non-organic produce with the highest pesticide content.
- -Five to ten servings of fruit and veg daily, with an emphasis on green, red and orange vegetables. Go crazy with the leafy greens!
- -Protein with every meal.
- Fast food restaurants, deep-fried foods, sweets and soft drinks.
- -Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (often found in margarine, crackers, crisps, packaged baked goods and bagged and boxed snacks).
- -High-fructose corn syrup (present in most soft drinks and packaged desserts).
- -Sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame and sucralose.
- -Cane sugar.
- -White flour.
- -Processed foods, including commercially prepared and packaged foods with artificial flavours, colouring, preservatives, and salt and sugar.
To do today: Practise foundational nutritional principles to improve your mental and physical functioning and wellbeing.
Watch this space for next week’s life-changing daily prompts!