Creating my vision for 2015 was the easy part. BELIEVING that I can make it happen is certainly the harder part, for me. Having a plan to create positive change is my biggest priority for 2015.
Sure I am that this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strengths; that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us. Winston Churchill
I believe that self-control and discipline are strong foundations for creating a healthy, contented and happy life. But I also believe that you need to find peace in the way that you become disciplined; it must be a practice that is kind to yourself.
To build this discipline there are layers of smaller steps, or practices, that together create a sturdy paradigm through which you view yourself and your life. The following is 5 ideas for creating positive change that will support you in achieving your dreams:
Scientific studies show that people who practice gratitude are more loving, forgiving and optimistic. We can cultivate the thankfulness and appreciation for life by practicing gratitude. The practice of gratitude is associated with:
- better sleep
- decreased depression
- decreased stress
- decrease in negative emotions
- improved coping
- increase self worth
- improved relationships
- increase joy of work
Ideas for practicing gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Write a letter of gratitude
- Write thank you notes
- Acknowledge your hardships and identify at least one aspect for which you are grateful.
For me, I have downloaded an App called Gratitude Journal that sets an alarm on my phone each morning at 9am and asks me what I am grateful for today. Seeing the question on my phone triggers my mindful consideration of the question and I have noticed that it is now instinctual for me to look at most situations and acknowledge what I am grateful for.
Exercise may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits, which include combating stress; reducing infections; controlling blood sugar; preventing heart attacks and easing mild asthma.
Many people are “wired” to crave exercise but if you are not that way inclined, you might consider making the choice to meet a friend for a walk, rather than meet for a coffee. Sometimes it is the act of actually scheduling your exercise in to your diary – as a non-negotiable item, like keeping a doctor’s appointment – that helps to keep you on track.
Studies show that the increase in oxygen level from deep breathing has numerous benefits. These include: easing inflammation in the body; helping improve clarity of mind and cognitive function; reducing stress and stress-related health problems; and improving wellbeing levels.
Meditation using deep, regular breathing as a focal point offers a host of valuable health benefits. Whether you are nervous, excited or relaxed, when you focus on your breathing, you will feel your breathing patterns change. Spending just two minutes breathing regularly can help reset your nervous system, no matter how stressed you may be feeling.
You may find this 1 minute video an inspiring place to start your journey in to meditation.
A pen coupled with paper can serve as an important life tool.
Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides unexpected benefits. Writing helps you to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. After journaling for a while, you will notice that you:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings.
- Know yourself better.
- Reduce stress.
- Solve problems more effectively and with intuition.
- Resolve disagreements with others.
There are no rules to journaling. Some people like to write on a theme, some people just like to “go with the flow” and write whatever falls out of the pen. It is helpful to write quickly, so that it frees your brain from censoring and it is also most effective if done every day.
I started my year by journaling every day, after meditating. I have definitely noticed how it helps to keep my 2015 vision in focus. My challenge however is to schedule in the time and make the practice non-negotiable. Do you journal regularly? How does it make you feel?
5. Random acts of kindness
Have you considered the purpose of life? I’m not sure that I have a clear answer on this but most certainly it has something to do with making a contribution to humanity, to the planet, to all existence.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb: “A little bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses.” Meaning that if you practice random acts of kindness, your own life becomes far richer and more meaningful. Have you ever noticed how great it makes you feel when you do something thoughtful without any intention of being acknowledged in return? Next time you do, take a moment to appreciate how you feel which I’m sure will inspire you to keep up the practice!
I’d love to hear your ideas on how you keep your vision for yourself front-of-mind. Does it take discipline? Are these practices habit now, so much so that you can’t imagine your day without them? I’d be grateful to hear how you “make it happen”!