There are no shortage of self-help gurus, books, blogs, websites, audio tapes, podcasts, and more that claim to be able to show you the path to enlightenment. In reality, improving the quality of your life requires the same process as solving any problem does. You have to take small, actionable steps and allow these steps to build upon themselves until you have achieved larger overall results. Where does one start you ask? It's really as easy as finding things that provide value to yourself and others and doing those things. Yes, you have to actually go out and do them. Talking about them, writing about them, and thinking about them is great. However, you'll never get any of the value unless you actually experience them for yourself. Here are a few ideas that I have implemented at times in my life to help you get started. These are mostly small, easy things that just about anyone can do. Some are very specific, others will require some creative thought on your part.
Have you ever noticed how something like a rainbow, or pretty cloud formation can shake you out of a stressful day, or a bad mood? These moments are great, however they are also spontaneous and fleeting. Wouldn't it be nice to have something that made you feel this way that could be counted on like clockwork? Say hello to the sun! It puts on two shows a day, and is right on time with them. Stopping to watch the sunrise and sunset each day can have an amazingly calming effect, which is something just about all of us can use I'm sure.
Take a day and do nice things for 5 people that you've never met. Be creative and spontaneous.
This is a powerful, yet simple exercise. The way you will feel at the end of this day is spectacular. Here's a few ideas;
1. Go to lunch and pick a table of patrons at the restaurant. When you're done with lunch, pick up their tab as well and tell the waitress to keep it anonymous.
2. Find an elderly person, or a woman with a baby at the grocery store parking lot and take their cart back to the rack for them.
3. Buy a couple of suspended cups of coffee.
These are just a few things you can do. Like I said be creative, it's fun.
Write, start learning a language, read a book, the possibilities are endless. If I had to pick one thing on my list to encourage people to start with, it would probably be this. It may sound strange, but killing your t.v. for a while can be a very enlightening experience.
Spend a couple of days alone in nature.
This doesn't mean hot dogs, smores, and a cooler full of beer at your local state campground. It means solitude, just you and the natural world for awhile. Solo backpacking is an amazing way to get your head clear and heart full. If you're not a big backpacker, try to find a place that you don't have to hike too far, or can drive into that doesn't see much traffic. It's worth it, I promise.
This can be running a marathon, climbing a mountain, learning a language, or speaking in front of a crowd. The only rules are it has to be a fear you're overcoming, or a feat that you feel you probably can't accomplish.
Now I know that this is a bigger thing than the others mentioned so far. Approach it with a mindset of just doing it instead of thinking about it too much. Easier said than done? Yes, of course it is! The barriers that can get broken down upon accomplishing something like this however, can be life changing.
Start paying attention to the coincidences in your life.
Okay, I'm going to get a wee bit metaphysical here. I really believe that if life keeps putting something in front of you, at some point it needs to be addressed. Eat at that restaurant that you keep thinking about every time you pass it. Call that old friend that's been on your mind. Read that book that people keep telling you about. I know this one sounds a bit strange, but what if someone is trying to tell you something important, what if there are no coincidences?
I know you think you look ridiculous when you dance, you may even be right. Here's the thing, it's one of the most liberating things you can do. It's also, free, easy to do, and good exercise. Just do it, no one cares if you look like a spaz. Oh, and if you're afraid to dance in public you can get 2 for 1 on this one because it is also overcoming a fear!
I hope this article inspires you all to try out some of these ideas. These seemingly small things do add up after time, and they can affect big, positive changes in your life if you continue to practice them. So remember, slow down, spend some time in nature, do something difficult or scary, and dance!
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