7 Ways To Make Changes To Help Improve Your Life
1. Remind yourself daily about the finiteness of time
Time is a finite resource, and isn’t something money can buy. Being prompted that today could be your last day will prevent you from putting off the things that you can do today to improve and better your life.
Be present with your family and your children as you may look back with regret wishing you had spent more time and enjoyed the moments. Think, what would you do today if you knew that there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow? How would you feel if you looked back with regret that you didn’t do everything you wanted to in your life? If you have more you want to do with your life, then take steps to start doing it today.
Time waits for no one, and that includes you. Give time the respect it deserves and make each day count.
2. Daily reflection, introspection and evaluation of our purpose
Our minds are supercomputers. We are always taking in sensory inputs, calculating and have constant streams of thought. At times it can be hard to concentrate or pick out things that are just sitting there in the back of our minds. We can quickly find ourselves stumbling through life dealing with one problem after the next, just putting one foot in front of the other.
Reflection and introspection are essential to be clear. The process of just jotting down and journaling your thoughts each day is a useful practice which may help you identify things that may be niggling at you. It also helps you to empty the mind of all thoughts bothering you so that you can either get on with your day if you are journaling in the morning; or helping to get things out of your system so that you can go to sleep soundly at bedtime.
Our purpose on this planet has always been a great mystery. Sure, we cannot answer the question for the human race but when was the last time you evaluated your purpose on this planet?
Do you participate in competitive sports — if so, is your goal to achieve all you can when competing? Are you a parent? If so, is your mission to be the best parent and to ensure that you are moulding your children into good people with morals.
Whatever you settle on as your purpose, you need to remind yourself of it daily. It can be so easy to get up one morning and wonder what you’re doing with your life. Once in a while, you may find yourself in a negative state which can be controlled and turned positive by focusing on the purpose you have defined for yourself and why it is you do what you do.
Do you have goals or objectives for the future — how do you plan on achieving them if you haven’t identified the steps you need to take to get there? If it’s not written down, then it’s not something you are fully invested in. Writing things down makes them real. If you write down, ‘ I will be ……’ then it sends a message to your subconscious. There are many students out there that deem writing something down as a way of getting it into their minds; they cannot revise without it.
3. Practice mindfulness in any way you can throughout the day
Mindfulness encourages you to experience, identify and then control your thoughts. The goal is to be present with and aware of any feelings you are having at a point in time and then being able to monitor them.
For example, anger, it is one of if not the most self-destructive emotion out there. It’s the cause of many a meltdown and can lead to disastrous consequences that can last for long periods time.
I’ve always had a problem with a short temper, and I was known to overreact and blow little things out of proportion, even punching holes through tables (cheap IKEA tables!). I started to meditate a few months before my daughter was born in July 2014.
Since I started to meditate, I found myself catching negative thoughts. When some guy cut in front of me in traffic, I thought to myself ‘What the f*ck is this guy doing?’ Then I slowed down my mind and started to think, why did he do that? Well, it’s before 9 am and I am driving to work. Maybe he’s late for work? Maybe he had a rough time this morning getting his kids ready and to the nursery which has made him late (I have been in this exact position on many an occasion). Maybe he had a bad nights sleep, and he woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Before I know it I have worked through some scenarios that have allowed me to calm down and understand there was a reason for doing it that wasn’t necessarily to offend me.
Mindfulness allows you to focus on what is real and control your emotions and specific reactions that you have. The switch to fight or flight mode was embedded in our DNA to help us avoid predators and react quickly when our lives were in danger. Now it’s more of a hindrance than a help in the social environment where we can overreact and sense things which aren’t even there.
4. Love everyone and yourself, be there for those you love and those who love you
Love is a fundamental human emotion. We need to feel loved and we value love above all other emotions. However, in the modern day, our views and expectations of what love should be are formed through media and fiction. Unfortunately, most of us first encountered love when reading a book or watching a Disney film. We transfer this onto our lives — then wonder why can’t find this feeling.
Love isn’t just an emotion. Love can teach us many things. Love can make us do many things. Love is about accepting people for who they are. Recognising who you are, and doing your best to be a person that can be loved and can love.
Alain de Bottom, the prolific writer and modern philosopher recommends that we treat our partners like children. Why are we so patient and understanding of our toddlers but don’t give our partners any room for unexplained behaviour? Love isn’t just about the fun; it’s also about understanding that there will be some suffering. We shouldn’t expect too much, but we can give as much as we want. We shouldn’t hold back, sharing feelings, thoughts and talking things through makes us easier to love.
5. Practice self-improvement, read, listen and watch
If you’re not moving forward, then you are standing still. Self-improvement is an essential part of being human and its where we get our wisdom from. Unfortunately, in our modern environment tools and resources have gotten us into bad habits.
We no longer read maps to navigate anymore. Satellite navigation and mobile devices do it all for us. We no longer have primary navigation skills — that’s why when your battery dies, or there’s an accident on the motorway you’re reluctant to try a different route. Some people even use help on a daily basis to commute to their place of work.
We are reading less and less each year. Why read up on something when you can google it, or look it up on Wikipedia when you need it. We spend too much time on Netflix and other streaming sites binge-watching seasons of tv shows. Reading is how humans load software into their brains. Unfortunately, most people read from electronic devices, and if you’re using the internet, there is the added obstacle of click-bait designed to pull you from your original purpose over to sensationalised stories which in its basic form is useless data and nothing more than a distraction.
The internet isn’t such bad thing if used correctly. There are online courses out there that you can even take to earn a full degree. There are short-form classes that allow you to pick up a skill in your spare time. There are libraries of historical documents that have been scanned in and are available to all to read at your leisure. There are YouTube and other forms of video that show you how to do something that you may be interested in.
These days I get most of my books from second-hand sellers on Amazon. The books cost a fraction of the price of a new book, and this means I am less likely to miss out on a book due to the cost. I always have a list of books at the ready so that I can move onto the next one as I finish one. I also expand the subjects and categories from fiction to non-fiction, business to history, philosophy to self-improvement. There are so many different books that can develop your knowledge and understanding of the world. The difficulty is justifying the time to spend reading over the other activities that you have got used to doing.
Podcasts are also an excellent option for using the dead time when sitting in traffic or on a train to work as a positive. You can even have a podcast on in the background when showering in the morning or cooking a meal. There are podcasts for everything these days. Health, wealth, mindfulness, business, finance you name it. You can find podcasts where one of your favourite authors shares his or her writing process and how they come up with their material. You can listen to your favourite rapper or singer detailing their creative process and how they managed to get where they are today. The best thing about Podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere and can do so while performing another task. You can turn dead time into a learning experience.
6. Give nature it’s due respect, reconnect with the Earth we live on
The earth is our home and is the habitat in which we evolved. In the modern world, we have moved away from our connection with nature.
We spend all of our time outdoors walking in shoes and then on artificial surfaces at home. We do not set foot on our earth unless we are on a beach or it’s a sunny day, and we are out in the garden with the kids. Some of us fail to ever set foot on earth throughout a whole year. There is a whole host of scientifically proven benefits to the earthing process, yet how many of us take advantage of this free and easy way to improve our energy levels. Instead, we look to new technology, pills and potions.
We also need to open our ears and listen to nature. People these days spend all of their time outdoors in a car or with headphones in. We miss out on bird songs, the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of trees and; for those lucky enough to live close to the coast, the noise of waves hitting the shore. Isn’t it funny that when we are on vacation or holidaying in the sun somewhere, we take the time to notice nature and the animals around us, but fail to do so in our home environments?
Finally, as a good reminder of our insignificance in the grander scheme of things, we should look up at the stars. The sheer enormity of space and what is out there beyond our world is a reminder that sometimes we make too much out of our situation. The brilliance and illumination are rarely visible in the concrete jungle due to the artificial lights that surround us. If you do find yourself out in the wilderness, or you are lucky to have particularly clear skies one night, then just staring up into the stars will ground you and make you realise that we are standing, walking and living on a ball of molten space material that is always spinning and orbiting a star.
7. Just BE— we are human BE-ings
We spend all of our working days getting things done. We spend our family time planning meals or getting the kids ready for school in the morning and then for bed in the evenings. We plan weekend excursions to meet the family or to attend an event. While doing all of this we forget just to be.
Keeping busy is always at the forefront of our minds but how about just being. Do we ever make time to watch the sunrise? Do we ever take a walk for the sake of taking a walk?
Don’t spend each day having to do something, try to spend some time each day doing something you want to do. Get out and enjoy nature, take up a new hobby, learn something new, try different things.
You are never too old to play with your children. Try and see the world from their eyes, the world is a beautiful place, and we can do whatever we want to if we can unshackle ourselves from the rules created for us by societal norms.
A great quote that captures this sentiment was from the late Steve Jobs of Apple back in 1994:
“Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”