This article was last updated on December 30, 2015
Over the past six months I have turned my life around! Where I once procrastinated over the smallest of things and got anxious about irrelevant, trivial day to day events. I have re-conditioned my thinking to the point that I simply will not waiver from my big plan, to do truly amazing things with my life! I took the decision to leave a job that was causing me no end of frustration, resentment and making me sick and began to rebuild a new mentality. Through wide reading in the area of ‘personal growth’ and ‘mind power’ alongside some weekly sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I discovered ways to bring a far greater meaning to life and derive incredible levels of happiness and gratitude from the smallest of things. Having stepped back from day to day monotony and invested time in my inner self putting all thoughts of external circumstances to one side, I have equipped myself with tools and thinking patterns that I trust will make the next chapter of my life the best chapter of my life!
I hope that by making you aware of some of the exercises below and by practising them regularly you can derive joy, satisfaction and recondition your mind to believe that whatever you want from this life is yours to go out and achieve.
10 Simple Habits That Could Transform Your Life
(1) Create a Gratitude Journal
Creating a small book or journal of positive past experiences and things in your life that bring joy is a great starting point on the path to a new version of you. Train the mind to move away from thinking about what you don’t have and towards all the great things that you do have. Before you settle for bed each night, take 5 minutes to recall and note down one or two things that went well today. Additionally, fill your book with photos of family, friends, holidays and write short captions that take the mind back to some of the best moments of your life! Drift off to sleep each night and wake up each day truly grateful for these experiences.
(2) Train the mind to visualise more favourable outcomes
Like I, most, have often fallen into the trap of seeing only one outcome to situations that, on the surface, have caused worry and anxiety. Train the mind to visualise more favourable outcomes and get into the habit of beginning each day by seeing things turn out in the way that you want them to happen. Apply the law of attraction and truly believe that things will turn out as you expect them to (they often do!) Visualise yourself achieving the weight you would love to be, having the strength of character that you’ve always desired or doing great work in a job that you love. Commit yourself fully to something that you’ve always wanted and remove the internal negative chatter that holds you back! Say to yourself ‘I can’ and ‘I will’! and remember – that in order for great things to materialise we have to first allow great things to be visualised!
(3) When negative thoughts creep in…. Consider an alternative more empowering thought.
This will take a great deal of time, practise and patience but start applying this exercise now and you will be amazed at the resulting change! When you doubt any aspect of yourself or your life, put yourself into the role of a supportive friend. What advice would your best friend tell you? Is the thought helpful to you in anyway? Is there any evidence from your experiences to tell you differently?
If you are having troubles, with let’s say your performance at work. Your critical self might hammer down on yourself by trying to convince you that you are just not good enough, not able enough or not up to it!
What would a more compassionate self say? Your great at your job, you just need a short break to recharge the batteries and go back to it re-energised and enthused. Has anyone actually told you that you’re doing an awful job, you’ve not got where you are today without hard work and skill!
Before passing judgement, think of yourself as standing in a court room and listen to everything that the defence team has to say that empowers you to move forward!
(4) Meditate and practise mindfulness.
If your biceps were aching after a tough workout then you’d rest them! Yet the mind (without doubt the most powerful tool in all of us) is expected to work hour upon hour, day upon day, week upon week. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to state what’s going to eventually happen. Instead of spending five minutes flicking through social media and comparing what people you haven’t seen for many years might be doing, apply some simple 5-10 minute meditation or mindful exercises. I implore you to not ignore this! Books by Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn or Mark Williams will tell you everything that you need to know! Try this for one month and begin to live in each moment fully aware of every individual experience.
(5) Look at problems in a different way.
Break them down into smaller more manageable chunks. Again, use a notebook and jot down all aspects of the problem. Look at the problem from different angles. Consider possible solutions, look for ways to connect the dots and train the mind to look forward to problems. I know this sounds a little crazy, but once you begin to overcome problems with more ease and less energy, this will naturally begin to happen! Get into the habit of making decisions as much as possible and don’t ruminate too long upon the potential outcomes or effects of those decisions.
(6) Set 5 goals that will kick start more positive habits.
Identify 5 aspects of your life that you could improve in the area of diet, lifestyle, exercise, relationships and work habits. Make a vow to discipline yourself to stick to these goals no matter what. This is vital as each time you tell yourself that you’re going to do something and fail to do it, the mind is provided with ammunition for disempowerment rather than empowerment. You will be surprised how good making 5 small changes to you will ultimately make you feel on both a physical and mental level. Keep these positive habits going and slowly add additional ones into your day to day routines and start the journey now to feeling great!
(7) Steer clear of unhelpful thinking styles.
Through CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) I learnt and was able to reflect upon several negative thinking styles that were causing me to feel drained and not worthy. I often saw things as black or white and situations were either perfect or awful! I have since learnt to accept that between these two outcomes is a wide open space of very good, good, satisfactory and could have been better. I was a bit of a perfectionist and beat myself up if it things didn’t turn out how I wanted. I now give more time to my family and self and accept good outcomes as being fine!
Do you ever find that you think you know what someone else is thinking about you? We all fall into the trap of mind reading but once again ask yourself: Do I really know what that person might be thinking about me? Could they be thinking something completely different? Might they just be too busy to have even noticed? Does it really matter what they think? Channel your efforts towards your thoughts and actions rather than the wrongly presumed predictions about the thoughts of others. Let the inner drive to please others go!
(8) Develop a more Compassionate Self eliminate the Critical Self.
When did you last negate yourself for forgetting to do something? When did you last smile and feel a sense of satisfaction at the great job or deed you just did?
Take time each day to absorb the efforts that you’ve put into completing tasks, the successful outcomes that you’ve achieved, the way that you’ve helped others, the problems that you’ve found solutions to! Internalise your successes more often and don’t put it down to luck or someone else’s doing. We naturally find it much easier to be critical of our selves than we do compassionate. Work on rewarding yourself both with positive inner dialogue and healthy rewards. Make your compassionate self a more influential figure in your life!
If time allows, give up one or two hours each week to a voluntary cause that means something to you on a personal level. It might be helping out at your local athletics club, or delivering food parcels in the local community, helping out with homeless projects or volunteering your time on a helpline. Stop making excuses not to do this and start feeling great for contributing on a personal level whilst giving something back! Sacrifice an hour of Eastenders each week to give your time to a truly great cause!
(9) Switch off the TV and read inspirational books.
How you spend your evenings or weekends is entirely up to you. Of course it is! But consider what value watching the latest episode of your favourite soap or series really adds to your personal growth and development! It might make you feel relaxed and help you unwind but wouldn’t reading books on inspirational leaders or figures, professionals in the world of spiritual enlightenment and motivational speakers add a new dimension to you and your ability to expand and grow into the best possible version of you?
I was never an avid reader, I would read on holiday and read the first few pages of many stories but never get round to finishing them. Through reading the right kind of books I have not only grown in strength and positivity but also discovered more about myself in 6 months than I have discovered in the past 35 years. I have found that once you find one book that you can develop a connection with, it begins an incredible cycle of discovering one book after another. A few personal favourites of mine that I would highly recommend include:
(10) Relaxation (Make time for yourself)
Try and develop a system of relaxation each day that allows you to have some time for yourself. Try to avoid sticking rigidly to the almost same gym routine at the same time each day. Mix things up and experience some new relaxation techniques. Try a gym class, learn some basic yoga moves, listen to some classical music, take up gardening, learn to play an instrument or to speak a new language. If you never had to work, what would you spend your time doing? What have you always told people you’d love to be able to do? Spend one week logging how you spend each hour of the day and then find one or two slots that could be amended to start doing those things that you’ve always wanted to do. Stop saying if only I had more time and make the time!!!
I’d like to say that I’m just an ordinary guy who wants to share his story but the new me values myself as much more than that!! I move forward in my life with the confidence to demand more, expect more and driven to achieve more! I’m going to get as much out of this life and push myself as far as I can possibly go; knowing that it will be a million times better to fail trying that to fail to even try! You too can achieve anything you want to do, be anything you want to be and go any place you want to go. The only thing stopping you is the fear to face the unknown.
I’d like to finish with a final question?
Do you choose unknown heaven or known hell? Only you can decide!
Photo credit: Jason Rogers