Life is difficult and that’s that. But there are always things you can do to improve your situation and feel better. Even if something just gives you a bit of relief or comfort, it’s all upside–unless your comfort is something like a heroin binge or cannibalism. Below are seven simple ways to improve your day.
1 . Blink (20/20/20 rule)
If you’re at all like me, your life has too many electronic screens in it. TV, PCs at home and at work, telephones–even the gas pump down at Chevron has a little TV I’m supposed to watch while I’m filling up my truck. You may have noticed–possibly even while you’re reading this–that you blink less while you’re staring at a screen.
Nothing drains a person like having fatigued eyes. Once your eyes hurt, it’s hard to think about much else. Here’s a tip my optometrist gave me that I practice religiously: every 20 minutes, look at a spot 20 feet away and blink 20 times. It works. It helps.
2. Let the tension go
As often as you can remember today, pay attention to your body and figure out where the tension is. About once every 30 minutes, I realize I’m either clenching my jaw, my abdomen, my fists, or furrowing my brow because I’m staring at something too hard. Figure out where your tension is, make the effort to let it out and loosen up. It takes energy to maintain tension. If you reduce the amount of tension you carry around, you’ll have more energy at night.
3. Give someone a compliment
This will always make you feel better, especially if you compliment someone you would rather not talk to. By making the effort to pay someone a compliment, you have to 1) step outside yourself for a moment and think about someone else; 2) pay attention to someone long enough to learn what sort of compliment they would appreciate the most. Both are useful habits. It feels good to make someone else feel good. Think of it as a tiny act of service and sacrifice.
4. Get some exercise
This is absolutely essential. Do something. Move your body. Take a short walk. Swing a kettlebell. Do a single bodyweight squat if that’s all you’ve got in you, but do something. The benefits of physical exercises cannot be overstated and go well beyond looking good and being strong. Do something.
5. Start some sort of journal or add to the one you have already
I keep three separate journals: one for my training, one of the books I read, and one of my thoughts and activities at the end of the day. Each one tells me different things about myself. I’m not saying keep three journals–in fact, I don’t know anyone else who does–but that you leave something behind that you can reflect on later. Don’t write a journal entry like a Twitter or facebook update. Write something down that is worth remembering. You’ll have the chance to learn from it later on. I often realize that I don’t know exactly what I think about something until I write it down.
6. Think of three things you are grateful for and say them out loud
Things are never so bad that you can’t be grateful for something. When things are at their worst, it is essential that you be able to find something good in the situation. This isn’t being a naive Pollyanna–this is a survival skill. It gets easier the more you do it. Best of all, the more often you do it, the more things you’ll realize you have to be grateful for.
7. Learn a new word
Mental stagnation and lack of curiosity: the soul-crushers. If you find yourself caught in a negative mental loop of “This sucks,” you need to replace that thought with something. Why not a new word? It’s fun to feel smart and nothing works better than adding a word to your vocabulary. Grab a dictionary or go online and learn a new word. Try to find ways to work it into the rest of your day so you won’t forget it. Then write that you learned a new word in your three new journals and then throw yourself a parade with 1000 elephants.
Here is some recommended reading by some really brilliant minds.
- Happiness Is A Choice by Vin Miller
- Gratitude, Day 9 by Ann Elise Mitchell
- How To Scare Satan by Sami
- How To Be Grateful When You Don’t Feel Like It by David Cain
- A Short Collection of Unconventional Ideas by Chris Guillebeau
Let us all know about your experiments in the comments section. And please add your own suggestions! What’s working for you?
Honorable mention in light of recent events: move your body, move every single thing you can, particularly if it isn’t used to moving through all possible planes, and especially if it hurts. Lately that has been my jaw, so I have been adding some jaw exercises and movements into my training.
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