People say that change is difficult but it really doesn’t have to be. Most of us can comfortably walk a mile, but did you know that a mile takes, on average, two thousand steps! As Lao Tzu famously said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” and so we can, in our every day lives, break difficult processes, such as change, into smaller, more manageable, stages. These small steps, each and every day, will build to a huge journey of change and self-realisation. All you have to do is spend just a few minutes each day, devoting a small amount of motivation and energy, to gently and gradually change life-long habits and you’ll change your life for the better. Try some of these ideas; the rewards will be enormous…
How To Change Your Life For The Better
Spend two minutes every day on something that you’ve always wanted to do.
Whether it’s writing a book, starting a small business, learning a new sport or exercise routine, meditating, learning a new language, making clothes, planning a trip around the world or supporting a local charity… make a very small commitment to it each and every day. This can be spent on the initial stages of research or actually doing your chosen activity. The important thing is that you are making a start on a life-long dream and these two minutes a day will add up to fourteen minutes a week, which will add up to seven hundred and twenty-eight minutes a year which will add up to… well, you do the math. And of course, once you complete the two minutes (the first step is always the hardest part, right?) you will almost certainly feel motivated to continue and do much more. The important thing is making a start: the rewards will be huge and you won’t have that little voice in your head telling you that you’ve always wanted to do something but never even tried!
Spend two minutes every day saying thank you.
Take the time to survey your life exactly as it is right now, your surroundings and the world in general, and look for things for which you are grateful. It’s easy to go through each day seeing the negative, finding things to grumble about or searching for ways to change your life for the better, but if you spend just two minutes a day looking at the sunnier side of life and feeling true gratitude for even the smallest good fortune, the optimism will spread. Remember, the more you nurture something, the more it flourishes, and gratitude is a wonderful form of nurture for everything good in your life.
Take one good, deep breath each day.
This is a really small thing that can have a huge impact on your life. Stop what you’re doing once a day and take one conscious breath. When I say conscious, I mean to really notice how it feels to breathe. Relax your body. Let your shoulders drop. As you breathe in, feel the cool air on your nostrils as it enters your body. Breathe slowly and feel the breath descending all the way down to deep in your chest. Feel your abdomen gently expand as you appreciate every drop of life-giving air. Pause for a moment. Then slowly and meditatively allow the breath to gently release. Feel it slowly rising from your abdomen to your head, feel the warmth of the breath on your nostrils as it is expelled. And that’s it. It takes just a few moments out of your day but you will feel more relaxed, more clear-headed and certainly at least a little refreshed.
When you wake up in the morning, release all expectations for the day. Each day is a miracle in itself, it’s a marvel that you are alive; realise this and accept that it is enough. This doesn’t mean you don’t have ambition or don’t wish to change your life, it just means that you don’t have to expect complete happiness, success and satisfaction each and every day. Take the pressure off yourself, take it one day at a time, and allow what will be to simply be.
Spend two minutes being mindful each day.
Either sit, stand or lie down, it really doesn’t matter, and simply allow yourself to fully come in to the present moment. Do this by engaging with the sensations of your body, noticing your breath, noticing the ground beneath your feet, the chair under your buttocks or the bed under your body and the air on your skin. Notice any smells you can perceive, listen for the smallest sounds, open your eyes and really look at the detail of what is in front of you. Concentrate on what your senses are telling you, forgetting the past and the future and staying firmly planted in the “now”.
Change judgement to understanding.
We go through life judging others by our own narrow standards. We get annoyed with the impatient person who pushes at the back of the queue, or the slow person who is holding everyone up at the front. When you feel such frustration and irritation growing in judgement of someone else’s behaviour, take a moment to imagine how their life may be. Perhaps the impatient person has a sick relative that they need to get back to. Perhaps the slow person has a migraine, a learning difficulty or some other difficulty that means that the simple things in life are more of a struggle for them. In short, cut them some slack and try to understand that there is always a different point of view from your own. We all have different crosses to bear and most of them are invisible to the onlooker, so just try to understand rather than to judge.
Make someone else’s day a little better.
Most of us spend our day trying to make things better…. for ourselves. We think of ways to fulfill our ambitions, to be happier, healthier and fitter. Take a moment each day to improve someone else’s life. Just a small amount of thought can make all the difference. Buy someone a cup of coffee, help them with their shopping bags or hold the door open, pay them a genuine compliment or simply just give them a warm smile and really listen to them when they speak. A small effort can go a long way and you will, ironically, be helping yourself because good deeds improve our happiness and well-being in many ways.
Do something new every week.
We are mostly creatures of habit, eating and drink the same things at the same times of day, going to the same shop on the same day of the week for our shopping and hanging out with the same friends or family members year in year out. Take some time to mix it up. Change your routine and try some new activities with new people. Walk or cycle rather than taking the car. Go to a new café and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Try out a new recipe or a new restaurant. Even a small change like taking the stairs instead of the elevator (which will also help keep you fitter and more active) can give you a fresh perspective on mundane, everyday activities.
You can, of course, expand these activities, investing more time into those that you find rewarding as and when you can, but these are a minimum to help you commit to change in your life. It is said that a habit is formed after doing something just seven times, so try this for a week and see how you feel. You will almost certainly feel more relaxed, more alert and clear-headed and more motivated.
If you’ve enjoyed this article on ‘How To Change Your Life For The Better’, please share on Facebook and don’t forget to join my mailing list. Thanks for reading!