22 Days Of Doing Better: Day 7
Trying to live your best life in 2018 — or at least a better one? We’re here to help with #DoBetter2018, a 22-day series of how-to articles to help you achieve some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and personal growth goals.
Yesterday, for our #DoBetter2018 series we wrote about the importance of guarding your spirit, meaning being mindful of the content you consume, the energy of the people around you. But while we’re watching and monitoring what we’re taking in, it’s equally important to take stock of what’s already inside of us, the thoughts and emotions that eventually govern our speech, our health and the outcome of our lives.
There is Biblical basis for this type of teaching, “The power of life and death lie in the tongue.” And we can only speak what we’ve already thought. So how do we ensure that the thoughts in our heads and words we speak over our life, are positive ones, ones that empower us instead of perpetually make us the victim? Here are a few suggestions.
Concentrate on breathing
This one is free, it’s simple and you’re already doing it. Now, you just need to make a more concentrated effort. Take 1-2 minutes each day to breathe deeply. To be clear, deep breathing means letting air come in through your nose, fill your lungs until your lower belly rises. According to Harvard Health Publishing, breathing consciously and deeply allows your body to enter into what is called “relaxation response.” You experience full oxygen exchange, you slow your heartbeat and can lower or stabilize your blood pressure.
Make a list of things you’re thankful for.
When we spend too much of our time focusing on the things we don’t have, it can be difficult to see ourselves ever having anything more than we already do. Instead of focusing on the lack in our lives, make a habit of physically writing down the things you have that you are thankful for. The act of writing and seeing this list, in your own handwriting, is a powerful exercise in itself. If you find yourself slipping into darker places, post the list somewhere where you can see it daily.
Recognize and identify the negative thoughts and reframe or replace the ones you can
The idea that every single thought in our minds will be a positive one is unrealistic. Life is about balance. And in order to address the areas of our lives that we need to change, we must first acknowledge them for what they really are. So instead of attempting to shun all negative thoughts, recognize them, examine them, question their origins. Barbara Markway, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Is this thought true?
- Is this thought important?
- Is this thought helpful?
Once you’ve done that, determine if this negative thought can be replaced by a more positive or optimistic one. If it can’t, move on to another, more positive thought.
Make a Why Not Me? list
Often times when we embark on a new path, project or activity, we find ways to talk ourselves out of it. We list and meditate on all of the reasons why something won’t work out, why we’re not worthy of good things. Instead of investing your time and energy into the reasons why your plans won’t work, think about and then make a list of the reasons why you do deserve and how you’re going to work toward everything you ask for.
We’re all going to make mistakes. Instead of dwelling on the times when you didn’t behave as your best self, make a conscious effort to be kind to yourself in your thinking, forgive yourself–stating it verbally if you have to– and make an effort to do and be better when the opportunity presents itself again. Because it will.
Tell people in your life you’re trying to work on being more positive.
In your quest to think more positively, let the people in your life know what you’re trying to do. That you want to live healthily from the inside out. Your journey will do a few things, inspire them to consider their thoughts also, help you in pointing out the positive things in your life, or it might show you the people who bring too much negativity into your space.