It’s spring time here in Argentina, and it’s time to clear some things out.
I’ve been practising the “power of less” in many aspects of my life — especially when it comes to clothing and “stuff”.
But the other day it hit me — a new way to look at how far the concept that “less is more” can go.
You see, we’re always looking for a to-do list of things so we can be happy, thin, sexy, wealthy, and so on.
But what about the things we need to stop doing?
Are there things we’re unknowingly practising everyday, which we don’t notice, that are essentially making us feel bad about ourselves and our lives?
I was hit by this realization, when, a couple of days ago, I caught myself with a thought as I was reflecting about my kids: “You’re not doing enough for them. You can do better.”
I found myself feeling low and horrible about myself. And then it hit me. I was being a bully — to myself. So I decided to stop it and actually said out loud to myself, “I don’t think so”.
And I have to say, it felt amazing!
This led me to look out for more things I could stop doing in order to feel better. And you know what’s funny? I found a lot of them. But really, it doesn’t take much time to cut these out. All it takes is your attention and focus.
Here’s my list of 7 things I’m putting on my not-to-do list in order to be happy.
1. Stop putting yourself down
Have you paid attention to your daily self-speech?
For a lot of us, our thoughts are negative. And they relate to ourselves.
And most of us, are our own worst enemies.
Don’t believe this is you? Spend the day taking notes of any thoughts that come to mind. Do you notice any self-sabotaging or negative self-talk in there? Write these down and read them out loud.
You might be surprised at the thoughts you didn’t know you had.
Without realizing it, we say things to ourselves like “You don’t deserve this”, “This looks horrible on you”, “You can’t do it”, “He doesn’t like you” and then there’s the all time favorite: “You are not good enough”.
Can you relate to this?
Then this is what you should do — it might be hard to stop your thoughts, but what you can do is simply don’t believe them.
What I do is as soon as I have a discouraging thought about myself, I then tell myself a success story. Something I’ve done right that I’m proud of. This helps me put things into perspective and makes me feel better about myself.
I’m also speaking to myself out loud and say things like: “Thank you for your concern, but I don’t believe what you’re saying,” and then I move on to the next thing.
There is a sense of relief when you recognize your negative thoughts and choose to look the other way.
2. Stop disrespecting your body
I use to do this all the time. I wouldn’t sleep enough, not drink enough water, skip meals, eat whatever is in front of me…
Maybe it’s the naivety of youth, but I used to see myself as a superwoman and perhaps somewhat immortal. But as I got older, I could feel the wears and tears of that.
So now, over 35, I listen to my body more. If I’m not feeling well, I take the day off. I go for a shoeless stroll on the grass to recharge.
It doesn’t matter what you do, but the key is just to listen to your body and serve it. Most of the time it knows exactly what it needs to feel energetic and happy.
“Listen to your body, it’s smarter than you.” Unknown
3. Stop living like a zombie
What does a regular day look like for you? Is it a giant to-do-list?
For most of us, a normal day involves going to work, taking care of our kids, perhaps some TV in the evenings, then off to bed before the cycle starts again.
Anybody feel like a zombie?
In order to be happy we have to do at least one thing that excites us… that inspires us. Something that make us happy.
For some it could be cooking, or gardening or spending the afternoon with your kids or just having a delicious cup of tea as you read a good book.
It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that you identify what excites you, and you make time for it everyday. Even for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised how much “spark” this could add to your life.
“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” Rumi
4. Stop feeling like a victim
I’ve done this a lot.
Truth to be said, it is easy to feel like a “victim”. It is very easy to feel sorry for ourselves and our circumstances. We didn’t do this us, someone or something else did.
The only problem with a thought like this, even if it were true, is that it doesn’t serve us or take us forward in any way.
So does one do? I allow myself about 15 minutes of misery and self-pity and then I put my mind and energy into what I can do to feel better. Even if that means just going to bed or having a drink I enjoy.
So find a ritual that can help you feel better, put it into practice and get out of the “victim shoes”.
5. Stop doing things you hate
I love this quote:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs
Our job is such an important part of our lives and we shouldn’t do something we hate. Spending your time in a place that brings you down is a recipe for disaster. That’s why there are so many miserable people in the world. The experience bitters your mind and your soul and it’s a sad way to spend your days.
So you’re in a job you hate, get out. Try to find something else that you either love or can tolerate better than the last. And if you’re not able to do that because of certain circumstances, and look around you and see if you can identify other things about your life that you don’t like or enjoy and start by cutting those out.
Little by little you will begin to notice a huge difference.
“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” Stephen Vincent Benét
6. Stop surrounding yourself with the “wrong crowd”
As a human beings we are a social animals — we need other people to learn from, nourish our soul, share our feelings… But what are the consequences of being with the “wrong crowd”?
What if everything we said is taken as criticism and we’re not surrounded by like-minded individuals? What happens to our energy, to our soul? As most of you might already be able to relate, we’ll feel out of alignment, and subsequently sad and/or bitter. We lose our authentic selves.
For a lot of us, this could also be an issue with family members. Remember though, we can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends, and they, can become our “family”. So make good choices and surround yourself with people who can lift you up and feel good about yourself.
“Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.” Unknown
7. Stop hating/hurting yourself
The only way to live a loving life is to start respecting, forgiving and loving yourself, first and foremost.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some examples:
1. Look in the mirror — take a good look at yourself, smile and say out loud: “I love you.” See if you can say it like you mean it. If this is difficult for you, then keep practising it until you can do it.
2. Close your eyes and take a moment to celebrate yourself, you are amazing! You know all the hardships you have gone through and survived. Celebrate that. Say to yourself, “I am amazing!”
Having trouble with those two? Then read this article with more ideas on how to love yourself. Enjoy!
Finally, my last advice is to learn how to laugh and to help you with that, watch this short video to remind yourself “to stop doing that”.
P.S.: If you like this article, you may want to check it out 50 Habits For A Happy Life.