1. Create a morning or nightly ritual.
Why do you wake up in the morning? Is it because you have to? Do you jump out of bed and immediately start chasing after your to-do list? Shower, shave, coffee, clothes, work? After a while, this daily grind gets tiring. It also can make us feel like we’re living a life without much joy or excitement. But it doesn’t HAVE to be this way. Create time and space for your personality and your joy. Morning or night time rituals can help you build a buffer between the mandatory grind and a life of gratitude and ease.
Take as little as five minutes to get your morning started the way YOU want. Maybe even take an hour if you’d like. Ask yourself what you’d enjoy doing as soon as you wake up? What would put a smile on your face? What would make you feel like you were taking a mini vacation? And then go do it! If you absolutely can not find the time in the morning to do these things, make time for them before you go to sleep.
Doing this can frame your day with things that make you feel alive. You get to create your day. You get to decide what to look forward to. You get to control your schedule. Ownership combined with authenticity is pure joy.
2. Make time for fun.
As you go through your day try to remember to smile. Uncover an aspect of fun in everything you do. Turn it into a game for yourself. Find one fun thing about every single activity you engage in throughout the day, and take a mental note. You might even want to go as far as actually writing it down and reading through it at the end of your day to remind yourself of all the tiny moments of joy you experienced.
Sometimes huge moments of frustration can overshadow the good things - so paying attention to the good as it comes can drastically shift our focus. As you do this day after day, over time, looking for good things will become second nature. It will be as simple as knowing how to walk. The good will seem to appear, unrolling like a red carpet at your feet. Make time for happiness, and happiness will show up for you.
3. Prioritize and choose happiness.
It is often said that no one can be happy every day. I used to believe this. But, I’ve since decided that happiness is a decision. You can experience negative emotions and still be happy. Tony Robbins says he allows himself 90 seconds of a negative emotion before he looks for a way to see the positivity in it or let the negativity go. I believe it really is that simple.
Be stubborn in your refusal to dwell. Be stubborn in your decision to be happy. Make happiness a priority. Your peace of mind is worth more than pleasing other people. your peace of mind is worth more than impressing anyone. You peace of mind is worth more than living up to a standard you once held for yourself. Because honestly, nothing matters so much that you can afford to lose your joy over it. Nothing.
4. Follow your intuition.
Our inner knowing. The little voice. Our gut. Our internal guidance system. You can call your intuition whatever you want… listening to it, actually trusting it is a different ballgame. How many times have you ignored your inner knowing? How many times have you wished you would have listened? We all know the power of our gut instincts. And when we shut that down, we all know how diminished and disengaged we feel. Stop it. Seriously.
Be open to the fact that your gut knows more than you do. Be open to trust. Not because you know that every decision you make will work out when you trust your intuition. Trust your intuition because you’ll become who you really want to be. Go with your gut because if you don’t, your life will be a tennis match and you’ll be the ball - swinging back and forth from one person to another, never truly taking ownership for your own game.
5. Say what you need to say.
We all know we’re here for a finite period. For the most part, we hope that we’ll get to a ripe old age - with wrinkles and grandchildren… but we also know that it doesn’t happen for everyone. We try to ignore that fact - expecting time to expand in the same way for everyone. And we’re typically shocked when it doesn’t (which is a post for another time, because really, we need to work on accepting this massive truth about being a human)… but if we truly understood and accepted that each day is a spectacular, unpredictable experience, we wouldn’t waste a second. We would say what we needed to say to the people who needed to hear it.
Stop wasting time. Stop thinking you’ll have more of it. You’ll feel lighter. Freedom will be your vehicle. You love that person? Tell them. You want that job? Ask for it. You’re thankful for what someone else did for you? Let them know! Make it simple. Stop worrying about outcomes. And trust in the process of communication.
6. Filter your focus.
Asking the right question can change your entire experience. Questions guide our understanding.
Think about it. If you get into an argument with a friend, initially you have a belief and your friend has a different one. You argue because you two can’t see each other’s point of view. You could leave the argument thinking that person is simply the more horrible human to ever walk the face of the earth. You could walk away wondering why they just can’t understand that you’re right and they’re wrong.
Or you could ask yourself a different question. You could wonder why is that point of view so important to your friend? What does she have to lose by seeing it a different way? You could ask yourself what you have to lose by letting the argument go. You could ask what do you gain from being upset? You could ask yourself how you made yourself feel by holding on so tightly to one particular belief? And when you ask yourself the winning question, you’ll know it. The tension in your body will dissipate. You’ll relax. You’ll know what to do next. And it will come from a place of love and light. Not a place of resistance and frustration.
Questions help us focus. And if you ask yourself the right question… you’ll get an answer more beautiful than you could have imagined. (This is why I love guided journaling… we can write down our thoughts in a diary format every day for the rest of our lies, and never really understand ourselves any better because we might be stuck in the same thought patterns. But when there’s a new question to consider - a new perspective to take into account - shifts in our understanding really start to come through. Check out Meditate & Wonder's Love My Life Journal: 365 Days of Self-Care and Mindfulness. It's loaded with questions to help you find your authentic self, build a self-care practice you’ll love, and discover your innermost desires).
We can stop ourselves from doing things because we don’t know what’s going to happen. The fear of the unknown, right? Part of that is just something to accept. You can’t know everything. You’ll never know everything. And that’s probably a magnificent gift. You might not want to know everything… But the other part of understanding this fact is that these days, if you want to know something, you can probably find out a lot about it with the click of a button.
Research! You want to start a crafting business but don’t know where to start? Watch videos and read articles about people who have done it already. Even if you decide you don’t want to start your business later on, you’ll scratch the itch by living vicariously through another person’s experience. You’ll know about one possibility because someone else told you how it happened for them. I’m not saying your experience will be the same - it might not even look similar in the slightest amount.
All I’m saying is that you can find a model, a mentor, a perspective that can change your life if you’re brave enough to look. You don’t even have to learn from people who are doing the same things you’d like to do. Listen to people who have already gone out in the world and made things happen!
Listening to someone talk about how they built something out of nothing should inspire you enough to take action with whatever dream you’re sitting on.
8. Analyze less, act more.
If the inspirational stories aren’t enough for you, then you simply need to act. If you’re someone (very much like myself) who can think about things for years, wondering about the outcome, thinking about the consequences, making plan after plan to see what is the best option for attack… you have to know that at some point thinking and researching and analysis does more harm than good. I found this out the hard way.
If you’ve gotten to a point where you’re using research and analysis as a reason why you can’t do something, its time for you to jump in. If you spend your time going over the same information, and your brain hurts from trying to figure it all out, its time to jump. Get out of your head and into your life. What can you do right now? What are you interested in right now? How can you improve your life right now? If those questions alone give you hives, check out my post about mindfulness or my more general post about meditation - those two activities have been little pots of gold for me. Maybe they’ll help you analyze less and act more, too.
9. Check in with yourself.
After all is said and done, this is YOUR life. No one else wakes up as you. No one else walks around with your face (unless you’re a twin or triplet or other multiple birth sibling… but even then they’re not walking around with your soul and your perspective). So you have to check in with yourself.
You have to try things and know that letting go of what isn’t serving you doesn’t mean you’re weak. Letting go doesn’t mean you’ve given up. It simply means you’re becoming more of yourself. You’re living and learning and growing. You’re supposed to change. You’re supposed to stop doing what isn’t working in favor of something better. And only you know what’s going to work well for you.
Advice can only help so much. If nothing on this list resonates with you, that’s fine! If college doesn’t resonate with you, don’t go! If your job doesn’t resonate with you, find a new one! If the food you eat isn’t working for you, eat something else! But you have to be willing to reassess. Check in with yourself. And be willing to switch it up when necessary.
10. Listen to your body.
So we talked about listening to your intuition and your logic system… but listening to your body can’t be ignored. We might be making choices that are logically sound that our bodies just can’t handle. It’s logical to eat avocados… they’re “healthy.” People love them. But if you’re allergic, if your skin breaks out when you eat them, if you get itchy or swollen, or start wheezing… they’re not “healthy” for you!
Listen to your body. If running is not something you enjoy doing, if your body hates it, try swimming. Or try lifting weights. Or try a martial art. Experiment until you find what works for you. You’ll know the difference between something not working for you and being sore. You’ll know the difference between what everyone else says is healthy and something that makes you feel sick. Trust that.
Don’t continue to force yourself to enjoy the thing that you hate just because other people said it's wonderful. Trust yourself.