After spending years living with anxiety and fear almost paralyzing me from truly living and thriving rather than just surviving, I realized that I had to make a change, a desperate change.
I pretty much decided to stop caring for things that didn’t ignite my soul, that didn’t truly matter to me. Basic matters had been stressing me out, wreaking havoc on my mind and spirit for years.
I felt broken, desperate…I wanted to do more than live. I knew that being happy every single moment wasn’t realistic, that wasn’t what I was asking for. I just wanted to wake up without the aching feeling in my heart, without the racing thoughts in my mind.
I wanted to breathe deep, rest easy, and not be in a state of constant fear, struggle, and anxiety. I knew I had to make a change. But change is scary and unpredictable. I didn’t know where to start or how to go about it, but I knew that I had to take a step, no matter how small…it had to be done.
When you stop caring, others may say you’re selfish. Why does selfishness have such a negative connotation? If protecting myself, taking care of myself, loving myself makes me selfish then so be it. Perhaps I am selfish. I have spent my entire life thinking about what others have to say, worrying about what others may think. It’s time for me and me only.
I had to ask myself several questions to fully understand what I was going through and how I was going to fix it. Why was I feeling this way? What can I do to remedy it? Who can I turn to for support? How can I learn to be gentle with myself, love myself, respect myself, no matter how down I feel?
And so, I went on this journey, a journey towards self-discovery, self-love, self-care, all those buzz words we adore were floating around my head and meant a lot to me, resonated with me, made me consider myself more: “I have to fill my cup before I fill yours.” This became my mantra.
I began to take time for myself in the morning to meditate, express gratitude, and sip my coffee quietly in a corner before the day unfolded. I did this religiously for months…I loved myself for months. I had time each day to consider myself before giving to others, whether through my job or my personal life, and this changed everything.
I felt better, relieved even, that my life was finally taking on meaning. I felt excited in the morning, rather than dreading everything before the day even began. But, of course, it wasn’t just the time I had actively decided to take for myself in the morning that helped: It was also about transforming my mindset and making an active choice each day, each moment, to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
Everyone talks about the importance of focusing on the positive. We all know that’s what we need to do, but how?
Write down at least 3 things you are grateful for each day
This is such a powerful exercise to do that many of us don’t bother considering as it seems rather insignificant or something that wouldn’t have much of an impact, but it really does. You can do this in the morning upon waking or in the evening before sleeping. Either way, it will transform the way you go about your life and how you deal with all the struggles and pain that come with it.
Thinking about what you are grateful for helps ground you in the present. You are thinking about where you are right now and how, despite difficulties or setbacks, you can be happy right this moment. You can be grateful for your home, job, partner, friends, family, food, heating, and the list goes on.
Appreciate the small things
Did you find a dollar on the sidewalk? Flip your pancakes at the perfect time? Spent time with someone you hadn’t seen in a while? These are little victories that make life meaningful.
This year, I started a Positivity Jar to keep track of small wins and happy moments. I write out whatever happened on a given day that I want to remember on a small slip of paper and put it in a glass jar. Next year, I’ll take them all out and read them to reflect on the joys I had experienced throughout the year!
Find time to rest and clear your mind
Meditation is another way to relax after a long day and ground yourself in the moment, but you don’t have to meditate if that doesn’t work for you. Just laying on your bed in silence can help calm you and suspend your thoughts, even if for only a few minutes.
Your goal in life is not happiness
This is something that took me years to understand. I had always thought that once I did this or that, or had this or that, that I would be happy and then I would have succeeded at life.
However, a state of mind cannot be a goal. You will not be happy all the time. Every single day comes with its ups and downs. Do not focus on being happy. Rather, focus on improving your mindset and how you deal with what comes your way.
How you feel is your choice
This is one I’m still grappling with daily. No matter what happens to you or what tragedy strikes you, keep in mind that while you cannot control what happens most of the time, you can control how you react to it.
Some days can go horribly wrong. You’re late to work, the bathroom faucet is leaking, you wore your shirt inside-out, whatever it is, remember that you can choose to mope around all day about it or put on a smile and do your best. Taking responsibility and making do with what you have is the ultimate key to going beyond surviving and actually thriving.
Life is challenging, difficult, messy, even disastrous at times, but you need to keep your head up high and keep going. You can give up, of course, but what’s the fun in that? If you take time for yourself each day to meditate, practice gratitude, and appreciate the small things, your life won’t suddenly become amazing, but it will definitely feel much more enjoyable.