There is a fine balance here between looking for the silver lining, opening up to focus on the good, and making excuses or allowing ourselves to continue to suffer because of the bad. …Honesty has to come in at some point when we ask ourselves if, when we look at the big picture, we are feeling good or bad, happy or sad, full of joy or despair. …In other words, our emotional misery will put a cap on how physically well we can be.
-Meghan Telpner, UnDiet
Those lines (among many others) really spoke to me as I was reading UnDiet recently. If you’re looking for a good next book to read, I highly recommend picking up a copy, or borrowing one from your library as I did. Although, I think this is one I’m going to want to purchase and re-visit from time to time.
So this last week I challenged myself with making some changes to see if I could gain a better sense of balance and ultimately feel happier. I started out small, knowing if I took on anything really big, I’d probably just end up feeling more overwhelmed. Here’s what I did:
- I woke up an hour earlier. I’m a morning person and this was actually really easy for me, since I usually spend that hour tossing and turning anyway. It’s also light out super early, so that helps. I think I may even try setting my alarm for half an hour earlier next week and see how that goes.
- I used my extra hour to read for fun. I started a little ritual of making some tea with homemade almond milk, lounging on the couch, and enjoying a good book. I didn’t do what I usually do, which is immediately open my laptop to check emails. This felt so, so nice.
- I continued to not check emails incessantly all day, and I found that my life was much less stressful when I didn’t respond to emails within a few minutes of them being sent. Work people asking questions resolved more issues on their own, and the world did not end when it took me a couple of hours to get back to them.
- I unsubscribed from a million emails. Less clutter = more (and calmer) mental space.
- I went to the gym every afternoon, with the exception of one day where I let work take up too much of my energy. However, I realized I did this, and vowed not to let it happen again. When I received a last-minute meeting invite during my scheduled gym time the next day, I declined. Again, the world did not end.
- I ate a ton of vegetables. I chose not to get my usual brown rice bread or tortillas at the grocery store knowing that this would basically force me to subsist on mostly produce. Physically, I felt lighter, and mentally, I felt lighter too.
- I replaced my nighttime trash TV with more reading. Who knew I liked reading so much? Aaron always reads before bed and swears it helps him fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep. One thing’s for sure, it’s way more relaxing than watching Real Housewives.
I have some bigger things I’d like to do differently in the next month or so, but those are still a work in progress (and I’ll share more when I’m able). For now, I feel like these last two weeks alone are setting a positive foundation for what’s to come. It’s kind of crazy how much a few small changes can impact your entire outlook. These are the baby steps that I hope to turn into bigger leaps.
Do you have any habits or rituals that set a really positive tone for your day? Are there things you’re also doing differently (big or small) to create a happier life? Suggestions, as always, are appreciated!