When looking at the makeup of our day-to-day lives, there’s something to be said about habits. The good, the bad, the ugly, they make up who we are, our days and the way we act, interact and are perceived by others. It’s the order you get dressed in the morning, the length of time you brush your teeth, the way you like your coffee, your go-to morning breakfast- even if you take your vitamins before rushing out the door. Do something enough times and it will stick with you, whether you like it or not. Habits are formed by an initial cue, a behavior, then a reward or punishment. By definition, it’s a settled tendency or usual behavior- so this could look like a variety of things to a variety of people.
The specific habits I want to address are your thoughts. Our thoughts are the foundation of who we are. You can guarantee that an onslaught of negative or complaining thoughts will in turn lead to endless word vomit- or those moments where you snap at a loved one or retaliate with a snarky comment that even you are surprised by and you think, “Why did I say that?”. The good thing is that we do get the final say in what our thought life is like. It just sometimes has to be more of a conscious effort for some.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? Is it a complaining, “5 more minutes” attitude fed phrase that floats across your mind? When you think about your day ahead, are you focusing on everything you have to do, the lack of time you have, and how tired you are? If these seem painfully close to your reality, and be honest, you might feel stuck in the mundane routine of your life, your job, your responsibilities, and have no idea how to get a spark of life back into your spirit again- don’t worry too much. Just like any bad habit- whether it be the eye roll every time your boss walks away, the emotional night-snacking to relieve stress, not budgeting your month out and continuing to live paycheck to paycheck despite a good paying job?- you can create good habits, too. All it takes is a little initiative, determination, and maybe a couple sticky notes!
I won’t pretend to have the magic answer to all of your life’s problems, but I do know that small changes can add up to big rewards in the long run, and a significantly improved quality of life. If you’ve been realizing you don’t feel like yourself lately, you aren’t as happy as you used to be, or as you want to be, or you just enjoy a little self improvement challenge, then I have some very simple tips for you.
If you cultivate these positive thoughts enough, you’ll find that the entire environment of your heart, your mind and your life will begin to evolve right along with you.
Set Aside Time– This might look like simply 30 seconds in the morning to think of two things and two people you’re thankful for, or something that day that you are looking forward to. For me, it’s my time warming up on the treadmill, reading my devotional and giving myself some food for thought for the rest of the day. Maybe instead of that negative talk show, it’s listening to an uplifting podcast or worship music on your commute to work. We spend so much time giving and giving, that if we don’t pour a little positivity back into ourselves on a regular basis we will end up dry, dull and lifeless.
Absorb- I touched on this a bit, but find an avenue you enjoy or that works best for your schedule- listening to podcasts, reading, devotionals, listening to a book or a sermon on tape- and invest time into bettering yourself. In our society, we are constantly shoving worthless information, ads, social media, and loads of other garbage into our minds and spirits. These things, more often than not, do nothing but weigh us down and remind us of everything we don’t have, everything wrong in the world, and a life we can’t achieve. Fill that space instead with something productive, uplifting, and positive, and see how different you feel.
Keep Good Company- I know this is not always in our control, we have those coworkers who are always in a bad mood, your roommate who can’t stop complaining, or a your best friend who you’ve known for eternity but they’re just bad news. Let’s be real though, if you want to be smart, start hanging out with smart people. Copy their habits. You want to be more creative? Find a class filled with creative people and join them, observe, absorb. If you want to be happier, fill your life with people who are happy, people who love life for no reason, people who always have a smile on their face. Let them rub off on you, personalities and vibes can be just as contagious and that nasty cold you caught last week.
If our overall happiness and wellbeing is simply a compilation of the small choices we make and actions we take on a regular basis, why not consider making those small building blocks positive ones? At the end of the day, we have the ultimate control over how we feel, what thoughts we allow, and what we focus on. We just may like the outcome a bit better after we start making a conscious effort to filter out the bad and replace it with good.
Remember, babes, life is too short to live it doing things you hate, wasting time on things not worth a second glance, or spending it with people who don’t make you better. So take some deep breaths, stop stressing so much, and do a little fall-cleaning. Let’s get that life of yours a little tidier, a little brighter, and a little happier- because you’re in charge. Your smile is way too beautiful to be hiding all the time!