5 Simple Things That Will Revolutionize 2014
December 31st, 2013
2014 is filled with the specters of catastrophic horrors or with opportunities for challenging growth depending on our perspective. Let's ease into the new year with some workable things that are guaranteed to make the whole year--our whole lives--feel better.
No, not a fake denial smile--a real one that feels right on our lips and in our eyes because it is humming on the inside of us. Face it. Nobody feels like smiling all the time. When you feel the frustrations making you dour, stop what you are doing and name five things for which you are grateful. In about a minute you will reach number three, and a real smile and the feelings that go with it, displace the sadness. (We're not talking about grief here, just everyday run-of-the-mill sadness.)
Smiling feels better to you and is more inviting to others. A smile makes you more approachable. Smiling invites a smile in return. Relationships can begin with a smile and a nod.
Most of the material I read indicates that about 30% of people in the United States do not get sufficient sleep to be effective in their lives. Billions of dollars in productivity are lost annually because of lack of sleep. A schedule that allows for an hour of downtime (no electronic devices) before bed is ideal. Most people still seem to function better on eight hours of sleep. Give it a try.
Getting enough sleep to wake up a couple of hours before you need to be wherever you need to be doing whatever you need to do is also a huge attitude adjustor. Forget the snooze button. Wake up and move. I'm not hypocritical enough to urge you to do a 20-minute workout before breakfast, but do whatever you need to do to begin to come alive after your sleep-time.
Get a little quiet time in after you are up and dressed for your day. Meditate, pray, reflect or just daydream for half an hour or so and the day is off to a smiling start.
You are breaking a fast of several hours duration while you are waking up. Hydrate. Eat a breakfast that is nutritious and satisfying. A favorite of mine is whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a banana. Make a green smoothie the night before and store in the refrigerator. How about having a good grain cereal (hot or cold) with fruit or berries? Just do it. Metabolism kicks in. Blood sugar levels adjust. Your start of day just got better.
Set aside some time each day for you.
Cuddle with a pet or other loved one for a while each day. My little dog constantly reminds me of the importance of cuddling. When I go too long without holding my spouse gently I feel the grump effect happening. Body to body contact is important to our happiness and well-being.
Speak kindly to yourself and others.
These five suggestions are in no particular order. This might be the most important one of all for our attitudes.
Most of us say (or think) things to ourselves that we would not use to attack any of our friends or colleagues. Love yourself a little. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You are not stupid because you overlooked that detail yesterday. Learn the lesson from the error; find a way to correct it, and move on. "Now look what I did!" turns into "What steps should I take to fix this and to help ensure that it doesn't happen again?" The words and the attitude not only feel better, but are more productive.
Think before you speak to someone else. A soft answer turns away wrath, says a Jewish proverb. Be clear (no mixed signals), and be kind. This counts even when the person you are speaking about is not in the room.
What are other simple steps do you use or might you use to make 2014 a more pleasant year than it otherwise might be?