I originally intended for this article to be a list of fifteen actions you can take today to live a happier life, but with today being Friday the thirteenth, I thought a list of thirteen might be more appropriate. Enjoy.
1. Practice Gratitude
It is so easy to take the beauty in life for granted. It seems sometimes that we are built for negativity. Practicing gratitude can be a powerful way to realize how wonderful your life already is. It’s not always easy to feel authentically grateful, especially if things aren’t going your way. The good news is that gratitude can be learned. You can fake it until you make it.
I challenge you to practice gratitude for thirty days. Start a gratitude journal and each morning, for thirty days, list three new things in life that you are thankful for. It can be something huge like divine guidance or something small like warm socks or anything in between. If you would like to see my gratitude journal, it will be posted weekly, for a limited time, on this blog. At the end of your challenge, I would love to know if this practice improved your life and how.
2. Practice Forgiveness
Forgiveness will set you free. Holding a grudge only hurts the person choosing to hold it. Why spend your precious energy all worked up over something you can’t change. The past is done, there is no undoing it. You can’t change the fact that you have been hurt and you can’t force anyone else to change their mind or behavior. What you do have some control over is your own thoughts and actions. Rather than wallowing in your own hostility, why not change the way you think about the situation. Wish your adversary love. Pray for them.
The most important person for you to forgive, is you, and this is often the most difficult task to accomplish. If you can forgive and love yourself, you will find it much easier to forgive others in your life as well.
One good way to get started is to send love and blessings to one person or thing that is irritating you each day. This can be yourself, someone else or not even a person at all. I list mine right after the three things I am grateful for in my journal. Repetition is encouraged on this practice as it may take some time to truly forgive the hurt that runs deep. You will be training your brain by doing this practice daily and it does work.
3. Write your stories.
Start a journal. Writing can be a very powerful tool for healing. Spill your emotions and fears onto the pages in whatever way feels therapeutic to you. Write poems, write stories, write letters you will never send. Try writing a letter to God, the Universe or your higher self. If you can’t take the chance of someone finding your written words, feel free to burn the page when you are done. What is important is that you release what is bottled inside of you.
4. Learn to say no and yes.
It is time to start saying no to people, events and things that drain you of your life force. It is not your responsibility to deal with other peoples issues. Take care of yourself first. Ask yourself “Am I doing this out of love or out of fear?” For example, are you doing someone a favor because you love them and are happy to help or are doing it because you are afraid the person will think less of you if you don’t? Choose love.
It is time to say yes to your life. Yes to contining to learn everyday. Yes to new experiences. Yes to change. Yes to the things you love. Yes to your intuition and yes to the power of believing in you!
Start a daily meditation practice. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me to be present, see clearly and remain calm. We spend most of our time either dwelling on the past or looking to the future. The past is over. The future doesn’t exist yet. Now is all that matters. Meditation can teach you to focus on now. A large commitment of time is not required. You can experience the benefits in as little as ten minutes a day. There are many phone apps available for guided meditation. Play around and find something that fits your style. Give it a try.
6. Get out in nature
Go for a walk, or a run or maybe just sit under a tree. Feel the force that connects everything on this planet. Look with wonder at all that you see. Get grounded by walking barefoot on the sand or the grass. Get your toes, or your hands, wet in the stream or the lake. Listen to the wind, the birds, the gravel beneath your feet. Drink it all in. Unplug for just a little while each day. It will be worth it.
7. Do nice things for yourself
Make your happiness a priority. It isn’t selfish to take care of you for a change. In fact, I think it’s necessary if you want to stay healthy. Take the time you need to do the things on this list. You are worth it. Treat yourself to a massage or a little gift, something you’ve had your eye on. Take a class or go out with friends. Indulge in a bit of self-love.
It is better to give than to receive. It has been proven that people tend to feel better about themselves if they give to others in need. I personally believe that the more you give, the more you get. The time is always now, even if you feel like you don’t have enough to spead around. No matter what my situation is, I am generous with what I have, there is always someone else who needs more than I do. So donate your money, your time or your stuff. Feel those good vibrations!
9. Spend some time alone
This is never a problem for me. I love my time by myself. Some of you may feel the same way. There is a trick to this, though. You need to be alone without distraction. Yep, that means no television, no texting, no social media. Most people will find it extremely difficult to just be still and quiet with themselves. The reason we are uncomfortable with this is because we will be forced to listen to our own thoughts. When you engage in this practice, be kind to yourself. Remember to practice forgiveness as you do this as well.
There is no better way to become aware of your thoughts and what is truly important to you than being alone without anyone else to influence what is on your mind. If you want to expand on this experience, take a trip by yourself. Go away for a couple of days and only do what you want to do. If this scares you, you may want to ask yourself why.
10. Trust your instincts
Many of us are not willing to act on our instincts or intuition. We don’t trust ourselves. We may be afraid of failing or of what other people might think of what we are doing. Your intuition is what your soul wants, what your heart desires, it is your higher self giving you inspiration. When you ignore your intuition, you turn your back on your authentic self. Don’t feed your fears. Trust your intuition.
11. Embrace your demons
Have you hugged your demons today? We all have a dark side. If you have taken some of the actions listed above, you may be seeing some of yours by now. This is key to learning self-love. There are parts of ourselves that may be difficult to love, like, or even admit to. The first step here is awareness. What are you ashamed of? What makes you angry or sad? What are afraid to talk about openly? It may be uncomfortable to acknowledge at first, but it will become easier with time.
The next step is acceptance. No one is perfect. We all have flaws. These perceived imperfections are necessary to the human experience. They are something we all share. Without our darkness, our light would not shine. To experience wholeness you must accept all of yourself.
Finally, it’s time to embrace. Release your shame, your anger, sadness and jealousy by gently trying to see it’s source. Where does it come from? Do not judge yourself. Treat your demons with compassion and understanding.
12. Chase your joy
One of my definitions of joy is watching my son grow, learn and develop in his own way. Another is being curled up with a great book, hot coffee, a blanket and a vibrating cat on my lap. I feel calm, at peace, like everything is right in the world.
What brings you joy? Once you define what that is, start using your energy to chase your joy. My home is rarely as clean as it used to be. Cleaning does not bring me joy. My time is better spent on things that do.
13. Walk into your fear
Whatever you are most afraid of, is what you should be paying the most attention to. Our conscious mind will always choose fear to block us from true awareness. Your authentic gifts can be revealed by facing what scares you. Walk into your fear. Walk into your greatness!
Happy Friday the thirteenth to you!!