It’s no secret that life can be difficult. Many people these days seem to be highly cynical and eschew positivity and good attitudes. Some people may say, “it probably won’t work, so why bother?” There is a common saying, “don’t live the same year over and over for seventy-five years and call it a life.” So, are you stuck in a rut and can’t stop the negativity that erodes your dreams and aspirations? Here is a short list of suggestions to help you fight back against negative life erosion, and to help get you moving forward again.
1. Recognize Negative Self-Talk
This happens to all of us: we may think we’re “just making a joke” by using self-deprecating humor, but our brains don’t know the difference between a joke and what’s serious. What you start to say and think, you will become. So if you make self-deprecating jokes about how bad you are at everything, you will start to believe yourself. And you will feel those limitations, when in reality the only limit is you. Try keeping a tally of all the times you speak poorly about yourself throughout the day; you’ll be surprised. And to really turn things around, start making a Daily Affirmations list. Start with just Five Things a day of positive things you notice of yourself. Even if it’s just “my dog was happy to see me;” remember, dogs are excellent judges of character.
2. Try Exercising, or Taking a Dance Class
Everyone seems to be obsessed with fitness these days. It seems you can’t walk into a grocery store without seeing dozens of magazines by the checkouts proclaiming “Flat Abs Fast!” or “Sixty Seconds to a Sexy Stomach!” Flash diets and fad workouts rarely ever make a lasting impact. Don’t worry so much about what your body looks like, but how it feels. You don’t need to train for a marathon, just grab a few friends, or an audiobook, and get moving.
Secondly, dance has been singled out because studies show that it can help to slow aging in the brain and help combat serious diseases like Parkinson’s. Dance will also help you to move outside of your little comfort bubble and open up a whole new world for you. The only requirement for dance is to have fun; you don’t even need feet.
3. Design your Future
Plans rarely work out how we want them to or how we think they should. That doesn’t mean you can’t develop an idea of what you want your life to become. To quote the Cheshire Cat, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Unfortunately, that’s typically the path of least resistance. This is usually a comfortable path that seems safe and simple but usually results in unhappiness and wondering where the last twenty years went. Take some time every day, week, month, or year, to plot out how you hope to see every area of your life changed by the end of that time period. Set little goals for yourself to help yourself move forward toward that ideal. Remember to stay flexible, but also work hard.
4. Stay in the Moment
Have you ever walked a dog, or watched a dog while it’s out? Dogs are zen masters. They really do stop and smell the flowers and everything gets them excited. They’re not worried about anything at all. Let the beautiful things happen and enjoy them as they’re happening. Don’t think about that algebra test next week, that new deadline your boss has imposed on your project, or the latest crises from a significant other that really isn’t a crises. Take a few minutes to embrace your life.
5. Embrace Failure and Fear
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson
Perhaps what you fear is exactly what you should be doing. Robin Williams was known as one of the greatest comedians of our time, and he had severe depression. Chris Evans (aka Captain America) has severe anxiety and being in the limelight causes him terrible stress, but he loves acting so he does it anyway. J.K. Rowling, beloved children’s author of the Harry Potter series, was poor and living on welfare and also suffered from major depressive disorder when she first began writing Harry’s story almost twenty years ago. Now, there’s barely a person in the developed world who doesn’t know her name, and she is the thirteenth wealthiest woman in Great Britain.
Take tiny steps; try and learn something new every day. Fail often; the sooner you fail, the quicker you will succeed.
6. Stay Steady
Do your best to stick to your new habits every single day. It takes twenty hours to become good at something new; or about forty-five minutes a day for twenty one days. You will most certainly fall off the wagon of change many, many times. But that’s okay. What matters most is that you keep trying. If you miss a few days, don’t beat yourself up about it. Acknowledge that you messed up, and focus on doing better in the future. As a smart little blue fish reminded us this summer, “Just keep swimming.”