There are countless things we can change about ourselves if we want to reach that nebulous, almost ephemeral idea of "being healthy." Changing the way you eat, drinking more water, adding a new exercise regime, and remembering to breathe -- these are just a few of the usual suspects. I've definitely taken a stab at all of them. Except for the breathing thing. I like to walk around seeing how few breaths I can take. It immediately elevates the stakes of my everyday living.
While doing one or several of these things will absolutely alter your life, it took something else entirely to change mine for the better. That was implementing a vow of niceness. This makes it sound like I was some sort of Scrooge, scowling at youths on the street and hoarding turkeys. Only half of that is true. Victorian-era poultry-based humor aside, being nice to other people has never been my problem. It's being decent to myself where I've hit a roadblock my entire life.
This vow of niceness I pledged was to myself. Before I made it, I found myself feeling exhausted, stressed out, and at my breaking point. I blamed it on a lot of different factors, but the real finger of blame should have been pointed squarely back at myself. Funny, given how quick I was to slam myself for everything else I was "doing wrong," you'd think I'd have no issue figuring this out, but it was challenging.
In fact, it took months of being only passively aware of the way I spoke to myself. Drop my keys? "God, idiot." Feeling like I don't want to go to the gym? "You are so lazy." Even something as banal as talking to someone new. "Ugh, you sound like such a snob." I never missed an opportunity to beat myself up. It was like walking around with Regina George in my head. In other words, it was the worst.
I knew that this wasn't something I'd be able to change overnight. Far from it. But I could try and become more aware of the way I was talking to myself. That seemed like a reasonable first stop. And if I was able to catch myself in the act and stop the verbal self-abuse from time to time, even better.
After a week of trying this new vow out, I was struck dumb by just how often I was my own worst enemy. If one of my friends dropped a plate, I'd literally think nothing of it: Accidents happen. So why was I giving myself a mental tongue-lashing every time I "screwed up"? No wonder I was exhausted.
While I'm by no means cured of my natural tendency to rip myself a new one for breakfast (delicious), I don't give in to my self-turned meanness so easily. I'll never be a laid-back person, but lately when something happens, like leaving my wallet at work or forgetting to charge my phone, I actually find myself thinking "it happens" instead of "you moron." It's amazing how not reading myself the riot act has transformed my attitude. I'm not as stressed; I don't feel pulled in a million directions or worried about letting everyone down. I feel a little bit happier, and that's more than enough.
What small changes have you made to turn your life around?
Image via Vijay Sonar/Flickr