Life can be busy and life can be boring. It can be wonderful, and it can be disappointing. Life can be a challenge, a continuous series of hurdles to mount and complications to navigate, and it can also be confusing. But throughout life’s ups and downs, we must make sure that we are always growing, always developing. We must always find ways to make things a little better for ourselves than they were a year ago or a month ago.
We can’t ensure that our life will always be perfect, but I believe that we can find ways to ensure that it is always filled with measures of love, faith, growth, and joy. To that end, here are a few suggestions for a “slightly” improved life. Whether you are looking to assuage holiday stress or hoping to get a head start on improving your life in 2019, I hope that you will find these suggestions (these “lovely living" tips) useful.
As always, message me with questions and comments.
Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Your Dreams
Lovely Living Tip #1
Remember to Take Breaks
Maybe this sounds simple, but we all need to be reminded of the simple stuff at times. Whether you are at work or just working on a project at home, remember to step away for a bit to clear your head. If we forget to do this, then we run the predictable risk of plunging ourselves into an irritable or creatively stifled place—a negative mental and emotional state that might last all day or longer.
So, if you want your life to be truly productive, remember to take breaks. Step away for a minute or thirty or whatever makes sense. You can make a snack, watch YouTube videos for laughs, or get in a quick workout. Then, when you feel refreshed, you can get back to attacking your projects and responsibilities like a boss.
Lovely Living Tip #2
Refine Your Personal Mission Statement
Have you been pulling yourself in too many different directions recently? Are you feeling overwhelmed or maybe even feeling like a failure because you can’t make progress on every front that you’d like too? If so, then maybe it’s time to define and refine your own personal mission statement. Instead of obsessing over a list of fifteen or twenty things that you’d like to accomplish, think about who you are and what you believe in, then write down A) a short mission statement for yourself, and B) a list of only two or three concrete ways to move in the direction of that statement. Also, remember that it’s okay and necessary to reevaluate your statement and the direction of your life every few months or so.
Lovely Living Tip #3
Don't Assume That Other People Are Smarter Than You
We are constantly bombarded by images of the rich, famous, and supposedly successful. The media fills our minds with celebrity lifestyles and celebrity worship, and our Facebook feeds overwhelm us with people saying, "I've accomplished more than you. Here’s how I did it.” Eventually all of this content and commentary might turn us envious and self-critical. We might start to put ourselves down and assume that others are simply more clever or talented than we are. But self-depricating thinking gets us nowhere.
The fix: Never believe that other people are smarter or more valuable than you are. Other people might be more showy, more verbal, or more ostentatiously materialistic than you are, but that doesn’t mean that they are better than you. You have talents, ideas, and a lot of worth to offer the world, but you must believe in yourself instead of comparing yourself to others. If you make believing in your own ideas a priority, the world will start opening up for you in beautiful ways.
Lovely Living Tip #4
Walk (or Run) It Off
Never underestimate the rejuvenating powers of a good walk or run. The next time you are feeling fatigued, frustrated, or just fed-up, give yourself the benefit of a leisurely walk in nature or a thirty-minute push on the treadmill.
This is more about mental and emotional cleansing than it is about exercise, so feel free to take it nice and slow (if you so desire). You'll be surprised by how even twenty minutes of cardio can hit your reset button in a major way.
Lovely Living Tip #5
Keep Them Close
Your God, your loved ones, and your dreams: These are the things that you must keep pressed close to your heart at all times. During difficult or particularly stressful periods it can seem tempting to retreat into a solitary place of empty despair.
When we are in the midst of a particularly troubling health, financial, or professional situation, we might feel that God has abandoned us, our loved ones can't help us, and our dreams are foolish or frivolous. However, we must keep the best parts of our existence especially close to us during those troubled times. That way our character is forged into something that won't easily bend.
ALWAYS KEEP THEM CLOSE.
See the Beauty, Recognize the Potential, Nurture the Talents
Lovely Living Tip #6
See the Beauty Everywhere
The smoggy hustle and bustle of life can beat us down until all we see is dirty streets, rude people, and a hundred headaches waiting for us each day. But we must remember to look for the beauty amidst it all.
This month, try to find beauty when you are feeling beat down. Look for unique (humorous, artistic, or uplifting) billboards and bumper stickers when you are stuck in traffic, try to find a profound smile or a gentle set of eyes when you are walking in a crowd, and try to see the good and all of the potential inside of friends and family members, especially if you have been fighting or nit-picking lately. There is beauty all around. Just look for it.
Lovely Living Tip #7
Picture the Pain Behind the Actions
Do you have a troublesome coworker, boss, family member, or friend who has been making problems for you or puzzling you with bizarre behavior? Is there someone who turns every day into a boxing match or a soap opera? Have you ever tried to imagine why that person might be acting out?
The next time someone is frustrating you with childish or aggressive behavior, try to imagine what thorn that person might have in his or her personal life that might be causing such behavior. This little exercise might help you to find a way to reach out to that person in order to improve the relationship. And if the situation between you and that person doesn't end up improving, at least you have developed a greater personal capacity for understanding other people.
Lovely Living Tip #8
Make a Weekly Schedule Every Sunday
At the beginning of each week, make a short list of what you need/want to get accomplished during that week. You can divide the overall to-do list into several categories like household items, fitness items, etc., and then you can draw up a tentative schedule of which items you hope to complete each day.
Just remember that your schedule should be "tentative." Goals and schedules must be somewhat flexible so that they don't stress us out rather than making our lives better.
Lovely Living Tip #9
Make at Least One Night Each Week a Movie Night
Whether you have a large family or are still living single, try to plan at least one night per week that finishes off with a little comfort food, a drink or two, and a movie that you have been wanting to see. Identify which night will be the week's movie night on Sunday already so that you can look forward to it at the beginning of the week.
For example, looking forward to pizza and a great flic on Wednesday night can really help get us through that first half of a stressful and challenging workweek.
Lovely Living Tip #10
Try for 1 Percent Change
I recently wrote about trying to find 10 percent improvement in our lives, but if that goal seems like too much for you right now, why not begin with 1 percent change.
Are you looking to improve some troublesome aspect of your health, your professional situation, or your finances? A lot of us get into bad habits and sticky situations gradually, over the course of years, so we have to remember that reversing those ships takes a little bit of time, too.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the distance between your current situation and your ultimate goals, try for 1 percent change each week. In a little less than two years’ time, that's going to be 100 percent improvement. And if some goal of yours is going to take longer than two years to reach, then try for 0.5 percent or 0.2 percent change each week. (You get the idea.)
Remember, any step in the right direction is better than doing nothing.
Lovely Grind Author & Web Creator
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If you or someone you know is struggling to survive the pain and confusion of prescription drug withdrawal or chronic stress, I would like to offer my coaching services. Stress can suck the joy out of life, and the withdrawal process can be challenging (I know from experience). However, with the proper tools and mindset, these things can be survived and even used for greater growth. If you or someone you care about is trying to quit antidepressant or benzodiazepine medications (or simply trying to reduce stress levels), please click here to email me about coaching options and availability.
MICHAEL PRIEBE is is a writer and personal development coach. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and over the years he has used both fiction and nonfiction formats to comment on politics, sports, relationships, and spiritual issues. Last year he released a workday devotional, The Lovely Grind: Spiritual Inspiration for Workdays (ORDER HERE), and he currently blogs about a variety of topics at michaelpriebewriter.com and lovelygrind.com. You can get all of his blog posts by signing up for his mailing list here, and you can enjoy all of his YouTube videos here.