I was fortunate enough to have a mom that told me it was important to love myself and gave me many suggestions when she noticed that the love light for myself became dim. However, what she didn’t realize was that the way she treated herself was what I mostly paid attention to and guess what? She didn’t do much of anything to love herself. Sad, but true of many women.
I worked for many years trying to reverse the habits my mom exhibited about herself, from my memory and my actions. It was tough work. Even the things she told me to do to make myself feel better weren’t the best or maybe I should say weren’t the best for me.
She’d say things like, “Honey, you just need some comfort food.” Or, “Maybe you should go buy yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes.” Sometimes, she’d even say, “Maybe you just need to think of others instead of thinking for yourself.”
She meant well; I know that. And, I love my mom dearly. I know she was only trying to help and only told me those things because she cared and that is what she learned from her mom. But, after too many shopping trips, credit cards maxed out, treating myself too many times to comfort food, and wearing myself thin creating stress while doing for others – I realized maybe I needed some other options for taking care of me.
So, here goes. A new list. A list geared towards modern women and men who are juggling about 20 things at once and need a break. A list not just for now, today, but to last generations.
#5 Connect with nature. There’s something about being out in nature that reconnects us to ourselves. Maybe it’s breathing in the fresh air, the beautiful green trees and plants, the crackling of the sticks and branches, the rustling and blowing of the leaves, sounds of the animals, or just the silence? Maybe it’s the realization that all these things were created by something much bigger than us and that we are so small and there are much larger issues compared to our own. Maybe it’s the fact that while we’re walking, running, biking or just sitting still in nature, we are silent. It’s like a meditation sesh!
#4 Let go with the music. Have yourself a little one-person dance party, or belt out your favorite song in the car or the shower. Music has such an impact on our emotions – even when we’re not paying attention to the lyrics. We feel alive, we feel like smiling when we hear a song that makes us happy. The melody and the rhythm together – filling our hearts and maybe even making us move and groove. There’s no doubt that music can equal happiness and a great way to love ourselves.
#3 Volunteer. There’s a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
It’s true. Giving back has a big effect on your body. Studies have shown that people who donate or volunteer their time to help others trigger the mesolimbic system, the portion of the brain responsible for those feel-good chemicals – and what psychologists call “helper’s high.”
I recently became an ambassador for an amazing organization, RunFar.org that is helping young adults whose parents’ served in the military, suffered from PTSD and as a result committed suicide. The team is committed to helping young adults hold on and to believe in something greater – all while offering them a chance to attend college by having the opportunity to apply to receive a scholarship.
Being a part of something bigger than me and having the ability and opportunity to help with a cause that is so very important – truly makes me smile.
#2 Journal. For me, when I write I feel like I can say anything – I feel complete freedom not just to say any words but to say how I feel and express my emotions. Did you know that writing has been linked to improving your mood, and reducing stress? Yes, it’s true. Those who write on a regular basis – whether you’re blogging or writing your next novel – writing makes us feel happier and healthier.
Many successful people have found it the most rewarding thing they do to keep their mind and heart in tip-top shape. Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Warren Buffet just to name a few are super fans of regular writing. “My most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook,” says Richard Branson.
#1 Increase “hang out” time with positive people. Every choice we make in life is influenced by someone or lots of someones. So, it’s pretty simple when you think about it. The more positive people you hand around – the better your overall outlook will be. Positive people practice gratitude. Psychological research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with happiness.
Being around positive people reminds you to appreciate the good stuff – you’re less focused on the bad stuff or what could go wrong or what went wrong and how you can fix it. Sometimes you can’t fix it, and you just have to let it be what it is. You just have to feel those emotions.
Do you have something to add to this list? If so, I’d love to hear it.
I’m all for being happy. Aren’t you?