5 Ways To Turn Your Life Around
Is your life going the way you want it to? If you are like me, you’ve woken up on many mornings with a lingering, haunting question in your mind about what you could do to turn your life around. Then you let yourself be caught up in the bustle and drama of your existence and you didn’t do anything to address the burning void in your soul.
I know. I was doing the exact same thing.
Then one day I didn’t ask the question; instead I made the decision to not waste one more minute just wanting my life to be better or to feel more at peace with myself and my world. I would make it so.
I knew the answer had nothing to do with acquiring possessions. For decades I have been a minimalist, and I have always been content to keep the amount of stuff in my life to a minimum, thus maximizing my freedom.
So I began my transformation by looking inward. I realized that if I wanted to turn my life around, I needed to embrace love and surrender: love of self and surrender of control.
I made a conscious effort every day to put the brakes on my lifelong habit of trying to control everything in my life and to feel like I had to be working every waking moment. I needed to release the misconception that the only way I had value was to be a multitasker and to worry about everything in my life.
The change was difficult to meet head on. I admit I cried a lot and felt frustrated and angry with myself.
In the beginning I floundered. I wasn’t sure exactly what I should do to tame the raging need inside of me to maintain my control and workaholic habits. So I turned to what I have always enjoyed doing: research.
I investigated names and ideas that had poked at me in the past but that I had ignored or just paid lip service to because I was “too busy.” Now I wanted to meet them and experience them.
Thus began my journey to realize self love and surrender. It is a path I will follow for the rest of my life, because it is a continuous learning experience, but a joyful and rewarding.
I began to read about, experience, and practice different types of meditation. The books at my bedside include names like Pema Chodron, Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, and Thich Nhat Hanh. From the wisdom I continue to gather from these and other sources, I have made several other small but significant changes in my daily life that have allowed me to turn my life around.
I am calmer, less anxious, and more mindful. In challenging situations, I am less hard on myself and others. I tend to be more patient, although I am not always successful. In relationships, I listen more before I speak. I am becoming more comfortable with and accepting of the idea of surrender.
Are you ready to turn your life around?
So here, in my experience, are five ways to help you turn your life around. If you practice these suggestions every day, over time they will become a habit.
It has long been reported that it takes about 21 days to establish a new habit. However, more recent scientific research from experts at University College London has determined that it takes an average of two months (66 days) before a new behavior becomes automatic. (I did not discover this study until I had been practicing my new lifestyle goals for more than three months, and I can vouch for the accuracy of this study!)
I cannot begin to tell you how valuable meditation has been in my life. Before I began my recent transformation, I could barely sit still for more than five minutes. My mind was always racing, thinking of past events or planning for the future.
However, within two months of starting meditation practice, I was sitting for up to one hour per day. I still have much to learn, but I am reaping the benefits already. I suggest you explore several different types of meditation to see which one best suits you.
Learn something new every day I feel especially satisfied when I learn something new. It can be something as simple as the meaning of a word you never heard before, different way to prepare a food, or a new function on your computer. Since I write a lot of health-related articles, I am always doing research and stumble across new things all the time. However, I also like to watch documentaries and explore YouTube videos on a wide range of topics. The Internet has made learning new things easy!
Start Each Day on a Positive Note
I used to think that waking up with a positive attitude was too Pollyanna. After all, if it was cold and snowing again and I didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t I have every right to complain? Sure, but it didn’t set a positive start for the day, nor was it productive.
Focus on an uplifting or loving thought to start your day. Perhaps you can wake up to your favorite song or you can concentrate on your purring kitties in bed next to you. Maybe you can feel grateful for the smell of coffee in the kitchen or the sound of birds singing outside your window.
As a health writer, I have always done a considerable amount of reading for research purposes, but making time for pleasure or growth reading has been a challenge. Now I make sure to read for myself every day. I’ve already mentioned some of my favorites, and I never tire of Thich Nhat Hanh’s True Love. Sometimes the first thing I do in the morning is pick up a book and read a few pages, or it’s the last thing I do at night.
Change your Routine
I used to thrive on having a schedule and doing the same things every morning when I got up. If something tossed a monkey wrench into my plan, I got upset. Then I gradually introduced change into my routine, and what a difference!
When you keep doing the same behaviors over and over again, you train your brain circuitry. When you make changes, you create new brain neural pathways. The change doesn’t have to be dramatic. If you usually dash immediately to your computer or to the coffee pot when you wake up, meditate first or read something uplifting instead. Go for a brisk walk before lunch instead of sitting around. Choose a positive rut-breaker and do it. Congratulate yourself every time you do. Love yourself for the changes you are making.
If you want to turn your life around, your journey begins with the first step. These five suggestions work for me; they may help you too, or create your own. The important thing is that once you make the decision to turn your life around, keep going and be patient. The joy is in the journey.