‘Here is the thing about life, it goes on’. That is a great mantra for bad days, days when your motivation fades, when the mornings are bad and the rest of the day is even worse.
It worked, sometimes. However, once it goes on, life demands a little more. That is, if one is to live it to its fullest, to enjoy it and get the most out of it. This is where the life coach in me, comes in. If I can give you one, or ten, lessons to make this life easier, better, fuller and more colourful, this is what I’d say. Trust me, I didn’t just write this, I lived it and tried it and swear by it.
Your values are the lighthouse that guide you in your journey through life. They tell you whether you are on the right track or not. They keep you in line with your goals and help you determine right from wrong. However many of us do not put any thought into identifying what our values are. Think of the common denominator amongst your decisions, what matters most to you when you need to choose between two equally attractive options. Is it security? Family? Wealth? Adventure? Pleasure? Freedom? Creativity? Spirituality? Whatever your values are, they are yours and stem from the accumulation of your life experiences and trials, so find out what they are, keep them visible, and use them in your daily life.
Before you seek the approval of your parents, your partner, your co-workers, your boss or your children, think of whether you are giving yourself that approval in the first place. The problem with seeking external validation (be it in the form of a pay rise, a promotion, a much wanted declaration of affection or a simple compliment), is the insatiability of it. If you don’t grant yourself that approval, if you don’t believe within your heart and soul that you are good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, then no matter what anyone else says or does to give you that validation, it really will not count.
We all seek the big wins, and believe that they will make it all different, all better. But even though the big wins are absolutely amazing, wonderful even, they are too few and far between. What we often lose track of are the small wins and the little pleasures we take for granted. Think of that great sunset you unexpectedly caught while walking the dog, the compliment you received from that stranger in the café, or the smell of your loved one’s hair as they hugged you this morning. Learning to catch these small pleasures as they happen will bring a sense of gratitude and fulfilment to your everyday life. Think of writing a few sentences in a journal each day about each day’s little wins or pleasure. Studies have shown that people who kept a journal of gratitude had lower stress levels and reported a more relaxed approach to daily stresses.
4. You are not your mind
We each are a body, a soul and a mind. Like three sides that make up a triangle. But many of us live in our minds and neglect the other two sides of who we are. We analyse things, think them through, draw conclusions and decisions based on the logical mind-set that we trust and listen to. Eventually, we become so engrossed in these thoughts and patterns of ideation that we forget to listen to what our emotional self is saying. We ignore the physical needs of our body. We cater to one side of three, and end up collapsing. Your mind can be your greatest ally and your worst enemy so treat it well but be careful not to give it all your attention. There is more to who you are than your mind and that is a good thing.
5. It’s okay to ask for help, really
What is wrong with asking for help every now and then? Many people perceive asking for help as a sign of weakness or failure. This leads to you being overwhelmed and stressed. Eventually, your to do list grows and grows to the degree that the thought of looking at it fills you with dread. A bit of help, in whatever area you may need help in, is not only beneficial for you in getting whatever you need done completed, it also gives the other person a chance to lend a helping hand and perform a kind act. A win/win situation.
Elsa like! People tend to carry things, memories, hurts, incidents, negative experiences and toxic people on their backs, day in and day out. At some point, that weight wears you down, both mentally and physically. Sometimes, you carry all that stuff around because you fear that letting them go means quitting or forgetting what the other person did, or what the negative experience taught you. However, the energy consumed in carrying all that negativity around means that you have no energy left for the positive and good things in your life. So, let it go. Let go of the fear, the hurt, the insult and the pain. It happened then, it isn’t happening now and carrying it around will not stop it from happening in the future.
In order to get a different result, you need to do things in a different way. It really doesn’t work in any other way. Unless you start working in a different manner to how you always worked, the results you will get will not differ from the results you have always got. Do you think it sounds way too easy? It does, because it is! Change your approach to the situation and the outcome will automatically change.
8. Be impeccable with your word
I borrow this from the teachings of Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements. Being impeccable with your word means being honest with what you say. Avoid hearsay. Don’t manipulate the other with the words you use. Don’t lie. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Doing this changes your communication with others which is then reflected in your relationships. Don’t dismiss it till you try it because it really actually works. Take responsibility for your word, and the world will reward you for it.
9. Be true to who you are
Being authentic is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. To live authentically means to live in accordance with who you are within, what you like and what you believe in. When you think of it, the media and our society try and sell us an idea of what it looks like to be right or be popular. However, who is to decide what right is when it comes to your life? Only you. You are the expert on who you are, and nobody else can claim that.
Just breathe. Take a deep breath in, hold it, and then release it out slowly. Do that again, and again, and again, slowly and with intent. Deep breathing relaxes your muscles, increases your levels of attention and induces tranquillity in what can be an otherwise busy mind. In the end, that is the one thing all of us can do - breathe. So make it work for you, and allow yourself that moment of calmness.