If we want to be happy, if we want to be successful, if we want to be determined toward our dreams, then we need to make a clear distinction between that which we can control and that which we can’t. So much easier to say than to do, am I right?!
If we’re wise, we put the lion’s share of our attention on that which we can control—which are our thoughts, our feelings, our behaviour, and our responses and reactions to what happens. There’s a great quote that sums this up and it goes like this: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” This week I want to share my top 5 things that we can control!!
1. Breathing – Most people don’t even think about their breathing.
(I myself used to talk for many seconds at a time and forget to breathe!). Breathing is obviously important, but so is the ability to focus on it. Can you feel your chest expand when you inhale, and get softer when you exhale? Where do you feel the rise and fall most? Breathing is the ultimate hack to relax and slow racing thoughts. As soon as you experience something unpleasant, just take a few deep breaths and focus not on how horrible the situation was, but on your breathing. When you focus on your breath, you can count “one” as you inhale, “two” as you exhale. When you get to 10, start over. I bet you’ll start to feel better and more grounded immediately.
2. Your Self-Talk
We all have a voice in our heads. That voice can often be critical and get in the way of our happiness and success. Try to count the times you engage in negative self-talk each day. It may surprise you how often you criticize yourself. If you can learn to recognize this Debbie Downer of an inner voice and replace it with encouraging statements, your attitude will start to change. Try talking to yourself with compassion. For example, instead of telling yourself you’re not good enough, remind yourself you are worthy of love and attention, or it’s okay to make mistakes—we all do!
3. Your Gratitude
If you can practice being grateful on a daily basis, your happiness and productivity will increase. Cultivating gratitude trains us to focus on hope, to remain inspired, and to be optimistic, lending us the courage and resilience to persevere in the face of setbacks (on top of giving us a mood boost that keeps us coasting).
4. Your Mental and Physical Fitness
I don’t know about you, but I come up with my best ideas while I’m on the elliptical. Exercising is a chance to just listen to my music and think about nothing. It’s glorious. You don’t have to go to the gym, but we all ought to take 20 minutes out of our days to get up and move. Motion helps free your mind and body to better tap into your creative potential. Walking has literally been found to increased creativity.
5. Your Sleep – Sleep is critical.
In order to hack sleep, you have to set a routine. I’m asleep by 9 p.m. and I wake up to watch the sun rise. Watching the sun rise is beautiful, and it’s a net positive that I’m grateful for. If your brain can’t calm down while you’re trying to fall asleep, tell yourself, “I’m proud of the work I accomplished today, I’m going to let my brain and body rest now.”