How to Become a Better Person in 7 Days

January is rife with talk of becoming a better version of yourself, but the discussion usually focuses on the 12 months ahead. The issue with this long-term approach is that it places the emphasis on what you’ll do one day, rather than what you’ll do today.

“The time to start is today,” writes Lolly Daskal, the president and CEO of Lead From Within, in an article for Business Insider. “The alternative is a sad one: to look back one day and wish you had done better.”

To create a framework to challenge yourself and self-reflect, she’s devised seven simple questions—one to ask each day of the week. “If you can ask them with courage, answer them with truth, and put to use what you learn from them, the next seven days will be your master class on becoming a better person,” she says. Are you ready for the challenge?

Day 1: What do I sound like?

“The way you sound is the best indicator of how you think. Do you express negativity or optimism? Complacency or joy? Acceptance or judgment?” Daskal says.

Day 2: What do I still need to learn?

Learning is a lifelong pursuit. Acknowledge that there are infinite things you can learn, and the people around you can all offer a unique perspective and insight to grow your knowledge.

Day 3: How can I be more purposeful?

Living each day with purpose will help you to remain present and focused. What can you do today to be more purposeful? What do you want to achieve?

Day 4: How can I become a better role model?

“It’s not about making yourself into someone you’re not but about being genuine with who you are, with all your weakness and strengths, and living from that truth,” Daskal says. Aspire to do every task, no matter how great or small, to the best of your ability.

Day 5: Who do I need to forgive?

Holding onto anger or resentment can provide serious emotional blockages that can appear in other areas of your life. To truly become a better person, ask who you need to forgive in order to focus on what matters.

Day 6: How can I lace everything with love?

“Give freely of yourself without expecting anything in return,” she says. “Make today the day you lace everything you say and do with unconditional love. There’s no greater game changer.”

Day 7: How can I cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

You cannot always control what happens to you in life but you can control how you perceive and learn from it. Reflect on the week that’s passed, and focus on all that you’re grateful for.

Article written by: Sophie Miura, Author of “The Self-Care Ritual That Every Therapist Swears by.”

31 Ways to Beat The January Blues

A happiness tip-a-day keeps the blues away…

Happiness expert Andy Cope, author of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence offers 31 brilliant tips to keep us thinking positively as 2017 begins…

  1. Mondays are bad and Fridays good. Really? The average life span is 4000 weeks and a seventh of your life is spent on Mondays. Flip your thinking. Friday is, in fact, another week closer to death, while Monday is an opportunity to make a dent in the universe. Mondays…. bring ‘em on!
  1. Upgrade your knickers so every bit of underwear oozes confidence. Stop saving your special pants for a special occasion and wake up to the fact that life is the ultimate special occasion.
  1. Be a hugger. The average hug lasts 2.1 seconds but for the love to transfer a hug needs to last 7 seconds or longer (but warned, counting out loud spoils the effect).
  1. Be a lover not a hater. It’s so easy to be negative, and join in the barrage of hate on social media. Go with Michelle Obama; ‘when they go low, you go high’
  1. Do an act of kindness for someone else. This can be as simple as letting someone out in the traffic or buying flowers for the bus driver.
  1. If you have small children practice what Gretchen Rubin calls ‘gazing lovingly’. This means downing tools at the end of the evening and standing at your children’s bedroom door, watching them sleep (the modern world dictates that you only ever do this with your own kids and there is an age limit of 10. After that, the general rule is that you NEVER go in your kids’ bedrooms, just in case!)
  1. Practice the 10/5 principle; smile at everyone who comes within 10 feet of you and make eye contact & say ‘hi’ to everyone within 5 feet.
  1. Say nice things about people behind their back. This is a double-whammy because it gets back to them plus people think you’re a lovely person (which, of course, you are).
  1. Write a list of 10 things you really appreciate but take for granted. ‘Health’ and ‘relationships’ will almost certainly be on there. Stop taking them for granted!
  1. Every morning, appreciate that you don’t have toothache and that your kidneys are working. Being able to get out of bed is the best thing ever (linked to point 9).
  1. Write a list of the top 10 happiest moments of your life and you’ll realize that most of the things on the list are ‘experiences’ rather than ‘products’. Set a goal to have more experiences.
  1. Think of someone who has really helped you (given you time or supported you). Write them a letter, from the heart, that says how wonderful they are and what they mean to you. Read it to them.
  1. Instead of asking your partner/kids ‘how was your day?’ change the words and ask (with enthusiasm), ‘what was the highlight of your day?’ Then listen with genuine enthusiasm.
  1. Walk tall and put a smile on your face (not an inane grin, you will scare people!) Your brain will immediately think you are happy and you’ll feel a whole lot better.
  1. Change your aim. Stop setting your sights on ‘getting through the week’ or ‘surviving until my next holiday’. Raise your game. Set your aim to ‘enjoy the week’ or ‘to inspire people.’
  1. Write down your top 5 personal strengths. Be aware of them and start seeing opportunities to play to them more often.
  1. Reduce your moaning and always remind yourself it’s a 1st world problem.
  1. Watch out for the 90/10 principle. This states that 10% of your happiness depends on things that happen to you while a whopping 90% depends on how you react to these events. Make a conscious choice to be positive.
  1. When setbacks occur, ask yourself, where is this issue on a scale of 1 – 10 (where 10 is death). If it is death, you are allowed to feel down. Anything else, get over it.
  1. Most people have an internal voice that is very critical. Challenge it. When your inner voice is telling you you’re an idiot, firmly disagree. Find a positive inner voice (note, this conflict is best done in silence in your head. And if you have lots of inner voices, you need to see your GP).
  1. Spend less time on electronic friends and more time with real flesh and blood ones.
  1. Praise your children for effort rather than ability. For example, if they get a good grade in Math, don’t say ‘Genius, you are the next Einstein.’ Do say, ‘Brilliant! That shows what you can achieve with hard work.’
  1. Practice the 4-minute rule; that is, be your best self for the first 4 minutes of arriving at work, being in a meeting, getting home, etc. Your brilliance is infectious.
  1. Lose the word ‘try’. Instead of setting a resolution of ‘I’m going to try and lose some weight’ or ‘I’m going to try and get a bit fitter,’ go with ‘I’m going to lose some weight’ or ‘I’m going to get fitter.’ Yoda was spot on when he said, ‘Do or do not, there is no ‘try.’
  1. Appreciate that your happiness is bigger than you. It has a ripple effect and infects people 3 degrees removed from you.
  1. Read a bedtime story to your kids like it was the most exciting book in the world (note, it is doubly important for sons to see their dads reading books).
  1. Reframe situations. For example, a leaking gutter means you have a house; paying tax means you have some income; your teenage son spending hours on his X-Box means he’s not wandering the streets, etc. However, don’t overdo reframing otherwise you become Pollyanna; ‘Whoopee, grandma’s dead, what a fabulous opportunity for a funeral and some lovely sandwiches.’
  1. Rather than a New Year’s resolution, set yourself a HUGG (huge unbelievably great goal); this is something that is massive and that inspires you (to write your novel, to run a marathon, to be the best Mom in the world, etc).
  1. Ask yourself, if there was a version of you sitting on a cloud, watching you go about your tasks today, what advice would the ‘cloud you’ give the ‘earthly you’? How would they say you should walk, talk, think and behave? Take that advice.
  1. Be genuinely interested in other people (ask loads of questions about them). In a bizarre twist of quantum psychology, people will find you insanely interesting.
  1. Make sure that you use more positive than negative language. The ratio needs to be about 5 positives for every negative, so catch people doing things well and tell them.

 

 

One New Year’s Resolution That Creates Lasting Change

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon

I originally started to write a post offering tons of different New Year’s resolutions and tips to stick to them to create lasting change.

After all, that’s what we bloggers do around the end of the year: share our best practices for improving our lives as December rolls into January; compile well-researched suggestions to change, and do it consistently, despite knowing most people give up on resolutions within weeks of setting them.

Then I realized that didn’t feel authentic to me.

I don’t actually believe New Year’s Day is any different than any other day. I don’t believe a random point in the time measurement system we’ve created requires us to make a laundry list of things we need to change or improve.

New Year’s Eve is, in fact, just another day, and the next day is one, as well.

I don’t mean to minimize the excitement of the New Year, or any of the days we’ve chosen to celebrate for religious or honorary reasons. I love a big event as much as the next person; in fact, I sometimes bust out the champagne for parallel parking well or using a really big word in a sentence.

What I’m saying is that New Year’s resolutions often fail for a reason, and it’s only slightly related to intention or discipline.

Resolutions fail because they don’t emerge from true breakthroughs. They’re calendar-driven obligations. and they often address the symptoms, not the cause of our unhappiness.

Some resolutions are smart for our physical and emotional health and well-being. Quitting smoking, losing weight, managing stress better—these are all healthy things.

But if we don’t address what underlies our needs to light up, order double bacon cheeseburgers, and worry ourselves into frenzies, will it really help to vow on one arbitrary day to give up everything that helps us pretend we’re fine?

It’s almost like we set ourselves up for failure to avoid addressing the messy stuff.

Why We’re Really Unhappy

I can’t say this is true for everyone, but my experience has shown me that my unhappiness—and my need for coping mechanisms—come from several different places:

  • I’m dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future.
  • I’m comparing myself to everyone else—their accomplishments, the respect and the attention they garner, and their apparently perfect lives.
  • I’m feeling dissatisfied with how I’m spending my time and the impact I’m making on the world.
  • I’ve lost hope in my potential.
  • I’m expecting and finding the worst in people.
  • I’m turning myself into a victim or a martyr, blaming everyone else.
  • I’m spiraling into negative thinking, seeing everything as a sign of doom and hopelessness
  • I’m assuming there should be a point in time when none of the above happens anymore.

The last one, I believe, is the worst cause of unhappiness. All those other things I mentioned are human, whether we experience them persistently or occasionally.

We’ll do these things from time to time, and they’ll hurt. In the aftermath, we’ll want to do all those different things that every year we promise to give up.

We’ll want to eat, drink, or smoke away our feelings. Or we’ll want to work away our nagging sense of inadequacy. Or we’ll judge whether or not we’re really enjoying life enough, and in the very act of judging detract from that enjoyment.

So, perhaps the best resolution has nothing to do with giving up all those not-so-healthy things and everything to do with adopting a new mindset that will make it less tempting to turn to them.

An Alternative to Resolutions

Maybe instead of trying to trim away all the symptoms of our dissatisfaction, we can accept that what we really want is happiness—and that true happiness comes and goes. We can never trap it like a butterfly in a jar.

No amount of medication or meditation can change the fact that we will sometimes get caught up in thoughts and emotions.

What we can do is work to improve the ratio of happy-to-unhappy moments. We can learn to identify when we’re spiraling and pull ourselves back with the things we enjoy and want to do in this world.

Instead of scolding ourselves for all the things we’re doing wrong and making long to-do lists to stop doing them, we can focus on doing the things that feel right to us.

This may sound familiar if you’ve read about positive psychology.

I’m no posi-psy expert, and to my knowledge no one is since the industry is unregulated. But it doesn’t take an expert to know it feels a lot better to choose to nurture positive moments than it does to berate myself for things I’ve done that might seem negative—all while plotting to give them all up when the clock strikes tabula rasa.

4 Simple Steps to Increase Your Happiness Ratio

This is something I’ve been working on for years, so it comes from my personal experience. As I have worked to increase my levels of satisfaction, meaning, and happiness, I have given up a number of unhealthy habits, including smoking, overeating, and chronically dwelling and complaining.

That all required deliberate intention, but it was impossible until I addressed the underlying feelings. I still have some unhealthy habits, but I know releasing them starts with understanding why I turn to them. Starting today, and every day, regardless of the calendar:

1. Recognize the places where you feel helpless…

…the housing situation, the job, the relationship, that sense of meaningless. Then plan to do something small to change that starting right now. Acknowledge that you have the power to do at least one small thing to empower yourself.

Don’t commit to major outcomes just yet. Just find the confidence and courage to take one small step knowing that you’ll learn as you go where it’s heading. As you add up little successes, the bigger picture will become clearer. This isn’t major transformation over a night. It’s a small seed of change that can grow.

2. Identify the different events that lead to feelings that seem negative.

Like gossiping with your coworker, overextending yourself at work, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much.

Whatever it is that generally leaves you with unhappy feelings, note it down. Work to reduce these, making a conscious effort to do them on one fewer day per week, then two, and then three. The key isn’t to completely cut out these things, but rather to minimize their occurrence.

3. Identify the things that create positive feelings.

Like going to the park, painting, looking at photo albums, or singing. Whatever creates feel-good chemicals in your head, note them down and make a promise to yourself to integrate them into your day. As you feel your way through your joy, add to this. Learn the formula for your bliss.

Know that these moments of joy are a priority, and you deserve to receive them. When you’re fully immersed within a happy moment of your own choosing, you’re a lot less likely to get lost dwelling, obsessing, comparing, judging, and wishing you were better.

4. Stay mindful of the ratio.

If you’ve had an entire week that’s been overwhelming, dark, or negative, instead of getting down on yourself for falling that low, remind yourself that only your kindness can pull you out. Tell yourself that you deserve to restore a sense of balance—to maintain a healthy ratio.

Then give yourself what you need. Take a personal day at work and take a day trip. Go to the park to relax and reflect. Remind yourself only you can let go of what’s been and come back to what can be.

It’s not about perfection or a complete release from all the causes of unhappiness. It’s about accepting that being human involves a little unhappiness—but how often it consumes us is up to us.

This might not be a lengthy list of unhealthy behaviors you can give up, and how, or a long list of suggestions for adventure and excitement in the new year. But all those things mean nothing if you’re not in the right head space to release the bad and enjoy the good.

Resolve what you will this year, but know that happiness is the ultimate goal. It starts in daily choices, not lofty resolutions—on any day you decide to start.

Article written by: Lori Deschene from Tiny Buddha