How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. ~Annie Dillard
And . . . we’re in December. Wow. This year will soon be a memory, to the relief of many. The pandemic, now in its second wave in some countries, has presented a great number of us with unprecedented challenges. We have been forced to change our habits, and for most, the majority of those changes have not been positive, affecting our perception of ourselves and the world in general. It is said that about half our actions are not conscious, but a result of our habits. I would like to share a few small actions that, when practiced consistently and made into new habits, can change you for the better. What’s more, they will change the way you feel about yourself.
- Read something inspirational each day, even if it’s a simple quote. After reading, close your eyes and savor it, focusing on how it lifts your spirit, opens your heart, or motivates you. This savoring acts on the brain in a similar manner as the concept of muscle memory in strength training or stretching. The more you do it, the easier you’ll find it is to access those good feelings throughout the day.
Change your thoughts and you change your world. ~Norman Vincent Peale
- Speak of your blessings and express gratitude daily. Even if nobody is around to hear you. I am so blessed to have food on my table. I am super grateful that my family has been safe from coronavirus. I am so fortunate that I am able to work from my home. Gregg Braden, five-time New York Times best-selling author, scientist, and international educator, says, Just the way sound creates visible waves as it travels through a droplet of water, our “belief waves” ripple through the quantum fabric of the universe to become . . . the healing, abundance, and peace – or disease, lack, and suffering – that we experience in life. And just the way we can tune a sound . . . , we can tune our beliefs to preserve or destroy all that we cherish, including life itself. By reinforcing beliefs that we’re blessed and grateful, we tune ourselves into more goodness.
Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. ~Swami Sivananda
- Practice little acts of kindness daily. Let a car merge in front of you; send a text or card to an out-of-touch loved one; give a small hand-made item to a neighbor. Do these things without expectation of reciprocation or even expressions of gratitude. Most folks will respond favorably, but not always. The first couple times my acts of kindness were not acknowledged, I was hurt. But then I realized that the recipients could be so busy with the sometimes overwhelming nature of life that they simply forgot. Giving is the part that will make you feel good. Hold on to that.
- Leave all your devices inside and get outside for (at least) a few minutes a day. While outside, allow your attention to be captivated by wildlife, trees, flowers, and the sky. Why did that tree grow in such an odd manner? That cloud looks like Snoopy! I wonder what kind of bird that is. Look at that incredible moon! These wildflowers are gorgeous! Placing your full focus on Nature has numerous health benefits and helps you remember somewhere deep inside that you are a part of it.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein
- Spend a couple minutes each day working on some small action that you find difficult. I have done yoga for decades, and until just recently, I was always embarrassed in class during balancing poses. I was never able to hold the poses as long as most others without falling out and resetting. Because I’ve learned the hard way that unaddressed issues have a tendency to get worse over time, I decided to do something about it. So, a couple years ago, I started practicing half-moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana) every day. As a result, my balance has improved tremendously, and my embarrassing falls are in the past. I also have a sense of pride for conquering a limitation!
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
- Get more fresh organic or non-GMO fruits and veggies into your diet to upgrade your microbiome, lose weight, and improve overall health. (You might also find, like I did, that this helps increase athletic performance.) If your doc gives a thumbs up, replace one meal a day with a smoothie made from 1 part fruit, 3 parts veggies, and coconut water to your preferred consistency. (For example, 1 pear, 3 stalks of celery, a beet, and a couple handfuls of spinach. Or 2 fruits and 6 servings of veggies, if you need more to fill you up. In addition to the coconut water, I like to add cinnamon and cacao powder, and top the smoothie with goji berries and unsweetened flaked coconut.) I also suggest learning to prepare a few quick and easy meals. Brown rice with green lentils topped with chopped red onions, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro is possibly the easiest meal I prepare, and it’s delicious. A simple stir-fry with rice is always a good choice. Also, check out my Bok Choy Soup recipe. You can easily substitute another leafy green or a different bean in the soup while keeping the other ingredients and utilizing the same instructions.
In these strange times that have forced change upon us, it’s more important than ever for each of us to bring beauty and positivity to our days. Our daily experiences, after all, compose our lives. The small actions above can go a long way in changing a negative mindset, and, once habituated, changing your life.
Blessings for Happy Changes,