Life isn’t easy, as the saying goes. But there are always obstacles between us and the next phase of our journey to become the best version of ourselves. Sometimes those obstacles are things we are actively doing, and sometimes the obstacles are the absence of good habits.
To pursue health, whether mental, emotional, or physical health, we’ve got to stop doing the things that weigh us down and create unnecessary barriers. In turn, we’ve got to establish healthy practices that will lead us towards success. Let’s start by examining just a few of each.
STOP Punishing Yourself
One of the ways we drag ourselves down is by over-doing it on the self-loathing. Take a breath and remember that the weight of the whole world isn’t on your shoulders. That’s an easy first step, so what’s next?
Don’t set your expectations so high that you doom yourself to failure, for starters. Then, don’t look for the worst in every moment. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the what-ifs, but that only punishes you and cranks up the anxiety.
Give yourself some encouragement and take inventory of the successes both large and small in your life. Look for the good in others and yourself. Train your eyes and your mind to find things to be happy about. Also, keep the proper perspective. It’s easy to feel shame, but shame as a companion is a cruel friend. Forgiving yourself is one of the most healthy things you can do.
STOP Looking for an Easy Way Out
As tempting as it is to play the lottery and hope it solves all your problems, it’s not likely. That may be an extreme example, but the point is still valid. Always looking for shortcuts is not a sign of health. Especially when we face problems that require grit and resolve.
Learning to face your problems head-on is crucial. There’s no genie in a lamp or magic fairy around the corner ready to solve all of our woes. Life offers us no shortage of difficulties and if we don’t acquire grit, we will succumb to our worst potentials. Don’t bury your head in the sand or expect a bailout all the time.
Learn how to push through your fears and obstacles honorably and you’ll create a much better pathway to success and health.
STOP Settling for Less
You should absolutely know your worth, whether it’s in a relationship or your career journey. If you’re working hard and doing the necessary steps to grow and learn, do not allow yourself to be short-changed.
Find an employer that sees the value you bring to the table. Find a significant other that affirms your positive traits. Don’t let self-doubt or unfair criticism dictate the narrative of your life. Own your story. Don’t settle for opportunities that ask you to pretend you couldn’t do any better.
START Practicing Positive Thinking
It doesn’t get more cliche than someone telling you to just “think positively”. Disregard the urge to roll your eyes because there’s a lot of power and wisdom in this advice.
Researchers in the medical industry have concluded that thinking positively Increases life span, lowers the rate of depression, decreases stress, creates healthy coping mechanisms for difficult times, and even helps fight colds and the flu as well as reduces the risk of death from heart problems.
Find the humor in difficult times. Make friends with people who bring positivity to your life. Put distance between yourself and anyone that always sees the negative in everything. It may seem like something Mary Poppins would tell you, but it’s a scientifically proven fact that training yourself to be more positive is beneficial.
START Thinking Generously of Others
More than ever, we are connected to billions of people via the internet. This is fantastic because we have access to more knowledge and opportunity for growth than at any time in the history of civilization. However, this means we’re also more tempted to get offended and frustrated by what we see.
Don’t assume the worst of everyone. Just like you, they’re fighting a battle in life. And just like you, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Living into your offended-ness creates a potential enemy out of anyone and everyone. Life is a lot better when we’re building bridges instead of putting up fences.
START Learning New Skills
Now is the time to learn new things. You can basically get a free education simply by watching Youtube videos. Don’t let all that access to knowledge go to waste and don’t stop learning new things. Don’t think you have to do this for your career, either. It’s important to have a private life that you indulge, too.
Stretch your mind and give yourself challenges every once in a while. Learn a new language, master the culinary arts, or become a whiz at a subject you’ve always been interested in. Don’t get complacent or give in to your boredom. Take some time to grow and you may even impress yourself.
Photo credit: Japheth Mast