Wednesday, April 8, 2009

10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Life

A while back I was reading some uplifting quotes and came across the following:

"Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others." - Wilfred Peterson

Now this is not the most glamourous quote, but its essential message keeps echoing in my head. I even have a copy of it in my workstation at work now, where I can see it all day long: Be gentle with yourself.

I have spent a lot of time, as I am sure many of you have, continuously striving to improve myself. Although I have loads of understanding for others, it honestly didn't occur to me to provide the same for myself.

It is not an easy shift to relax our attitudes about ourselves. It takes time, and love, and patience. The following is a basic list of simple ways to improve your life, empower yourself and take it just a little easier on yourself:

1. Say no. When someone gives you a request, step back and think about it before that "yes" pops out of your mouth. Make sure you've left some time for personal renewal this week.

2. Cook a meal. If you don't know how to cook from scratch, pick something simple to start with, such as homemade macaroni and cheese. Cooking from scratch helps you to see how you can combine the basics in your kitchen and make real, heart warming food. You'll save money too!

3. Give yourself a hug. Look in the mirror and say, "I love you." Repeat, repeat, repeat.

4. Read about natural health alternatives. Ladies, start with "Our Bodies, Ourselves" by the Boston Women's Health Collective.

5. Question the rules. Insert the word "why" into your vocabulary. You will find a lot of the time the answer sounds something like, "Well, that's just the way it is" or "It's protocol". Think about whether or not that is a good enough answer for you, and act accordingly.

6. Turn off the news channel. Somehow we've become entrenched in fear, in a large part due to the way our news is disseminated to us. Read the news headlines once a week, and you will find you didn't miss much after all. Find websites that tell you about the wonderful things happening in our world.

7. Create something. Write a letter to the fairies. Go out and buy oil pastels and posterboard and make some abstract art. Pull out the knitting needles and yarn at the back of the closet. Don't worry about results- just enjoy the process.

8. Help your spirit sing. Go out in the sun. Soak your weary feet. Cuddle a pet. Sprawl on the couch. Read something uplifting. Pray or meditate. Just take five minutes and do it, I know you can.

9. Be prepared. Take another five minutes this evening and set out your clothes for tomorrow, put a lunch together. That'll equal 10 or more extra minutes tomorrow morning. This is my hardest thing on the list to do, and it's a work in progress for me!

10. Get lots of sleep. If you need an alarm clock to wake you in the morning, you aren't getting enough sleep. Turn off the computer and the television. Go to bed. Make it a habit. For moms with little children, try to nap when they do, or go to bed when they do!

I have found that when I practice these ideas in my own life, they free me. Please find at least one way to be gentle to yourself today :)

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