11. CULTIVATE GRATITUDE.
Feeling resentful and picked-on is easy. It takes just a bit of effort, discipline, and purpose to spend a few minutes daily shifting into a pose of gratitude. But choosing gratitude quickly transforms a bleak mood. Every day I try to marvel at the cool things in my life. Usually it happens organically, but occasionally I just push my mind there…..fake it till you make it! Do gratitude exercises even when you’re not in the mood, and suddenly you find you ARE in the mood.
I list the amazing stuff in my life. I sit in wonder. Try to apply words to the amazing catalog of blessings that have been laid at your feet—in counterpoint to some significant challenges, too. Sometimes, most days, I say out loud to myself, spontaneously,
“I love my life!”
Not often enough, I send texts to people to thank them for small things that mean something to me, or better yet, tell them to their face. (I’ve decided that while I’m great at expressing gratitude via email and text, an in-person compliment, or thank-you, is worth twice as much.)
I try to make compliments and thank-you’s as specific and authentic as possible.
Be like a child for five minutes a day—as if everything amazing around you is BRAND NEW!
12. TAKE 30 DEEP BREATHS A DAY.
Do it outside, in clean air, if possible. Heart attack survivors who learned how to breathe deeply, using the diaphragm, had fewer subsequent cardiac events. You can’t help it from calming you. Moods lifting and calming down are natural products of oxygenation. I love to enhance this exercise with a drop of essential oil rubbed into my hands, cupped around my mouth and nose as I inhale. My energy changes radically and I feel calm and peaceful.
13. SLEEP: AN HOUR BEFORE MIDNIGHT IS WORTH TWO AFTER!
Did you know that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight? Getting enough sleep doesn’t mean getting 8 hours—not for everyone, and not every night. The most important thing may be to complete sleep cycles.
The body sleeps in 90-minute cycles. If you wake up naturally, after 4.5 hours, having completed three full cycles, you may be more rested than if you slept 8 hours and were awakened by your alarm clock while you’re in one of the deep, restorative stages of sleep! I think alarm clocks are terrible for our health.
So, go to bed early. Then you’ll wake up naturally, rather than to the alarm. If you wake up at 4 a.m., no big deal, if you went to bed at 10 p.m. You might be surprised at how rested you are all day.
And, try to go to bed at the same time every night. You’re training your brain and body when to shut down. Take valerian root or melatonin as a sleep aid, if you want, but only occasionally. Otherwise your body may stop producing important hormones, since you’re providing it in pill form. It’s always best to let the body do its job!
14. ALWAYS HAVE THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO.
I don’t know if this one is important to everyone. But it keeps me happy with working long hours; to think that I have something to look forward to.
I like to have a short-term reinforcer, as a reward for getting everything done in my day (like a treat, or Zumba at 9 pm). And a mid-term reinforcer (every Saturday night doing something fun with my girlfriends—I start planning it with them mid-week).
And don’t forget the long-term reinforcer. (When is that next vacation? It always has to be on my calendar!) Depressed people often say, “I have nothing to live for.” We can create things to live for, and put them on the calendar or vision board.
My once-a-day, short-term reinforcer, the past several years, is a cup of Cocoa Mojo with Coconut Milk, in one of the pretty mugs that I bought in Switzerland. Tennyson and I enjoy this together after I pick him up after school. It’s the together-time with him, and the cup of something hot in my hands, that I look forward to. And it doesn’t make me feel unwell like processed treats do. It contains non-dutched (alkalized) cocoa, and coconut sugar, and powerful medicinal mushrooms, plus the medium-chain fatty acids and deliciousness of coconut.
15. FIND OUT “WHY”—ALWAYS BE LEARNING AND GROWING.
I read instead of watching TV. Did you know TV requires only your very lowest brain waves? Reading helps to keep your mind nimble and healthy.
Knowledge is always ahead of habit. Plenty of us know more than we actually put into practice. So we need our knowledge to be WAY out in front—and then our messy human foibles, that get in the way of good self-discipline, can keep scrambling to keep up with our information databank.
Always ask “why?” And then when you find what looks like answers, remain open, and ask yourself, “But what else?”
These 15 practices may seem like a long list that takes lots of time. It’s not actually true, though, because these habits increase my vitality and make me more productive, happier, and in tune. And, many of them I can do simultaneously. For instance, I practice gratitude, and deep breathing while I’m getting my endorphin fix running outside. I am also getting my Vitamin D, the “natural Prozac” in the sunshine, too! That’s four tasks in one—and I feel great, rather than stressed out, when I’m done!
If you have other daily practices that make you super-crazy-healthy, write me!