Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

Five Ways to Flourish as Your Best Self

Even before Covid-19, we’ve been living in a world of high-stress, fast-paced demands. We have been in a daily race with ourselves and our colleagues to achieve more, get more, and have more but ultimately all that scrambling to win leaves us feeling burnt out, irritable, and empty.

How do you flourish as your best self?

Let’s keep it simple with five concrete ways to flourish as your best self and win the happiness you desire:

1) Say Thanks Often

Gratitude is everything. Two years ago I made a decision to view life through the lens of gratitude and it was the best decision I ever made. If you want to maximize your potential and growth, you first have to find the wins that already exist in your life, big or small.

Even in our darkest moments there are so many things to be grateful for from family to friends to a good sense of humor or a sunny day. Look around you. I’m betting that you can find three things that you are thankful for without moving from your seat or setting down this blog.

I know, however, there are times when gratitude feels difficult. If you are in a place where you can’t see the good, go look for it. Go to the park. People watch. There is goodness everywhere if you open your heart to it.

Then try generating a list of everything you have to be grateful for. Start with a goal of ten and I’m pretty sure you can come up with way more than that. Let’s test it, here are 10 that I’ll come up with just now:

  • Family.
  • Home.
  • Fresh air.
  • Clean sheets.
  • Great friends.
  • Freedom.
  • Education.
  • Good books.
  • Fuzzy socks.
  • Cashews.
  • Cell phones.
  • Water.
  • Ceiling fan.
  • Night sky.
  • Trees.
  • The stars.
  • Wind.
  • Hugs and kisses.

You get my point; the possibilities are nearly endless.

2) Rethink Your Expectations

A lot of times all we need to flourish in our lives is to rethink our expectations. Consciously or subconsciously we are setting expectations all the time. We often underestimate or overestimate the parts of those expectations that are within our control. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. The behavior of those around you, the circumstances you were born into, how others perceive you, and the like are all beyond your reach.

Quietly set realistic, achievable goals and then crush them, BIG TIME.

Consider the issues that you are dissatisfied with and evaluate where you can make changes. Are they things that you can actually change? If so, make a plan to get it done. Don’t just talk about it, be about it. I mean a step-by-step manual for fixing the stuff in your life holding you back.

And if the things you are dissatisfied with are out of control then rethink your expectations or make like Elsa and let it go. 

3) Protect Your Time

Scrolling the ‘gram, surfing the web, waiting in line, running errands, stressing over things you can’t change—they’re all time thieves. If you want to flourish, you have to respect your time. The more time you waste on the unnecessary, the less time you have to savor your life. That’s why time blocking is such a game changer.

If you’ve never heard of it, please let me tell you about it. Time blocking is a life-changing strategy for getting more done in less time. I use it for all parts of my life, work included.Like how I did that? Normally we are making plans for work then life gets in the way. But, if we make a plan for life, with work included, then we can have a better handle on the day. Although time blocking creates structure and keeps me on task, the biggest perk is that it actually makes more time in my life for myself and the people I love. I kid you not. As a high-achieving procrastinator, it has been the antidote for my common “I have time to do it later” delay tactics.

Try it! Follow these six steps and see how time blocking can change your life too:

  1. Identify your priorities and the big stuff you need to get done.
  2. Look at the day in front of you and block out chunks of time to actually get those things done.
  3. Create a visual representation of the time blocks like color coded blocks on paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or  a mobile device app that charts your productivity.
  4. Schedule in your breaks. If you don’t, the whole day can easily become break time!
  5. Identify, limit, or annihilate the habits that interfere with your time blocked goals. In other words, give yourself fifteen minutes to chat with a friend or scroll social media, not two hours.
  6. Create a work zone. Find a quiet place where you can focus on getting stuff finished.

That’s it. Not hard, right?! And you will be amazed at how much more you get done and how good you feel about yourself when you get your brain organized and you can see your wins.

4) Let It Roll Off Your Back

Setbacks, hardships, and missteps are part of living. If you are an insecure perfectionist, these can hit your ego pretty hard. You know what? There’s no need to beat yourself up over them. Respond with grace instead of react with shame. If you allow yourself to respond to every challenge fearlessly, with grace and dignity, you will find an ability to appreciate your strength. You cannot underestimate the power of your ability to rise above.

Roll it off your back then use it as your footstool to climb higher.

For me, it has been a long winding road to get to this point, so I do not underestimate the difficulty. I have learned, however, that perfection is limited and growth is limitless. Now I become curious about everything that happens in my life, good or bad. I take a moment to evaluate where I went wrong and how I can not follow that same path in the future. Sometimes I just shake it off and move on. Other times I accept that I probably was not as good or did not know as much as I thought I did. And that’s okay for now because I am capable of changing that if I want. Truth is, not every mistake is one that you can fix. And not every hardship is one that you can “get over” but time continues so life insists that you move one way or the other. That leaves you with two options: you can slide back or you can move forward.

Life Tip: Always choose to move forward.

5) Laugh, Then Laugh Some More

There is nothing more healing, empowering, or cleansing than a good laugh. Laughter, in fact, literally heals. It boosts the immune system, relieves physical tension and stress, and relaxes muscles for as much as forty-five minutes. My favorite thing about laughter is that it cultivates optimism and reduces stress. It changes the dynamics of relationships and experiences. Laughter creates hope. And who can’t use more hope?

When was the last time you had a real deep belly laugh where your eyes fill up with water and you feel like you’re running out of breath? Do it again! You can read a funny article, hang out with your favorite person, watch a comedy, or simply learn to appreciate and laugh at the absurdities inherent in living. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Give yourself permission to enjoy those conversations and time filled with big hearty laughter that makes your cheeks hurt, your eyes water, and might even make you pee a little.

When you laugh you spread happiness, and your best self gets some room to shine.

Don’t overthink this. The path to your happiest life is a winding road, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. Be grateful for what you have and realistic about what you want and deserve. Recognize that time is precious so make good use of it at every turn. Don’t let the bad stuff kill your good vibes and maybe most importantly, flood yourself with joy everyday. Those five simple steps will help you flourish as your best self everyday.

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