There are certain habits and realizations that can change your life forever.
They are often what most try to avoid, because they aren’t comfortable or safe.
However, after you’ve lived for a few decades, you begin to see what doesn’t work, and you’re drawn to the truth.
You want to know what truly works even if it is inconvenient.
In this article, I share 11 things that have made substantial difference in my life.
1. Take Tiny Steps
A baby learns to crawl before it can walk, and it learns to walk before it can run.
Most people expect rapid life changes. If they’re wasting their time at a soul-sucking job, they expect success and fame within six months.
It’s not impossible, just unlikely.
People who need life changes right away don’t realize that it’s not going to make them happy anyway.
All they want is their dream of a problem-free future. When they get there, another goal is set.
And the wheel keeps turning.
So realize that there will always be problems in life. It’s not our job to eliminate them. Our job is to do our best, take tiny steps, and see where life takes us.
2. Accept Where You Are
For many, acceptance feels like giving up.
True acceptance is fully feeling your resistance to this moment. Most run away from the discomfort within, but it is always there waiting for you.
When you are willing to meet it, you gain more clarity.
This is because all the worries and stories are ways to distract from unpleasant feelings. These stories cloud your access to your intuition.
So acceptance is not resignation, but completely welcoming whatever this moment brings.
Here’s a still relevant video from a few years back I recorded on being in the present moment:
3. Be Patient
Patience is another bad word.
Yet patience is simply the wisdom to know that things take time.
When you’re impatient, look again at what you’re trying to avoid. Impatience comes from wanting something that is not here.
You believe something will give you a better feeling than you have right now.
The resolution is not found out there, but in the welcoming of what is being avoided. This is counter-intuitive, and often only makes sense after you feel everything fully.
As you begin to be okay where you are, you begin to find joy in the journey and the achievement.
We all have memories—painful memories.
What you may not realize is that the person hurting you with those memories is you.
While the event may have happened in the past, you are the one replaying the memory.
This is not about condoning wrongdoing, but realizing that there is no benefit in holding on. If something needs to be done, it can be done without anger, hurt, resentment, or bitterness.
If you don’t want to forgive, then begin by forgiving yourself for not wanting to forgive.
You are okay as you are, where you are.
Meditation has helped increase happiness, focus, equanimity, and a bunch of other things in my life.
All that is needed is a few minutes per day of noticing your breath going in and out. That may seem too simple, yet I still find it immensely helpful even after a few decades of meditation.
Give it a try.
Your mind will rebel for a long time. Just keep bringing your attention back to your breath over and over. Each time you do, you become mentally stronger.
So when you lose focus, rejoice, because this is why we meditate.
Meditation can lead to mindfulness in daily life, which helps you become more aware of patterns that hurt you and hurt others.
This in turn leads to more joy and peace. If you’re interested in more, you can find my meditation guide here.
6. Challenge Your Thoughts
We give our thoughts too much credit.
Instead, challenge and defy. If a thought tells you that you can’t do something, do it anyway, and see what happens.
Be a little mischievous.
What have you always wanted to do?
Is there something that seems interesting?
Take tiny step toward it, especially if it feels scary. The more you do this, the more you will discover that your mind doesn’t know anything.
What a relief.
7. Face Your Fears
When you let fear dictate what can and can’t do, the world becomes smaller.
Face your fears, and possibilities open up. When you step out into the unknown, and are willing to follow your heart, life often comes to your aid.
Compared to challenging your thoughts, facing your fears is more about feeling. Notice where in your body the fear resides. Let go of the label fear, and notice that what you find are sensations dancing.
You can even ask what the fear is trying to protect you from.
Is the protection still needed, or are you ready to explore something new?
8. Kill Your Excuses
An excuse is a thought.
If you want to write a book, and you can’t find a publisher, you might leave it at that and believe the excuse “I’m simply not meant to be a writer.”
But notice all the things you haven’t tried.
If you can’t find a publisher, try self-publishing, or forget the book altogether and create a website or a newsletter.
Follow what makes you come alive without abandon. Excuses will arise. Feel the corresponding sensations in your body, and then take a tiny step forward.
No one knows what’s going to happen, so just enjoy the adventure.
9. Take Responsibility
Don’t wait for someone to swoop in and tell you what to do.
Or give you permission to go after your dreams.
Change is rarely comfortable or effortless. Embrace the fact that it may be awkward, scary, and challenging.
Let go of the ideas of how life should be, and return to how life actually is. Start with what you have, where you are. That’s all that is needed.
Learn to make decisions from your inner authority. Here’s a video where I share how I do this:
10. Follow Your Heart
And what would an article of mine be without me telling you to follow your heart?
If you’ve been reading my articles, you know that I keep writing about following your heart, and there’s a good reason.
The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve grown to trust my heart.
And when I say following and listening to your heart, I mean it in the broadest sense of the word. It can mean anything, such as following your gut, intuition, feelings, or going with the flow of life.
When you begin to face your fears and challenge your thoughts, you naturally begin to follow your heart, because there’s nothing else to do except follow what makes you come alive.
11. Accept Failure
And you won’t know if they are mistakes when you make them, because mistakes and failures have the potential to transform into wisdom.
You learn what doesn’t work, which makes you more likely to do what does work.
Step by step, you uncover your path.
You discover that failure isn’t so bad. Yes, it may sting, but it doesn’t kill.
Remember that you are always more than you think you are.
You are not your thoughts, or your conditioning, or your feelings.
What is here when thoughts come and go?
Who are you?
Listen to that. Attune to it.
You don’t have to become someone else, or be somewhere else. You are where you need to be. You are exactly as you need to be.
Embrace it, and take a tiny step toward what feels magnetic.
Enjoy your day!
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