Sep 21, 2015

5 habits to create lasting positive change

Gratitude, journal, acts of kindness, exercise, meditation

Life is so very hectic right now I feel like I barely have time to breathe, let alone take care of myself.  I am up at all hours of the night with my newborn.  My daughter recently started preschool and dance.  My work life is a little on the crazy side and don't get me started on the house and the responsibilities I have for church.  

I knew I was spiraling out of control.  I knew I had to get a hold of my life if I wanted to survive it or if I wanted to be a good mom and wife.  I knew something had to change if I didn't want to be an emotional wreck all day, every day.  But what?  What could possibly help me?  I didn't want to pull my daughter out of her own activities.  I couldn't just ignore my sweet baby.  I also couldn't shirk my work, home, and church responsibilities.  

Thank heavens I had a contributor post coming up from my dad.  I knew he could give me advice.  I knew he could help me come up with a solution.  I mean he is my dad.  Isn't that what dads are for?!  

So you are in for a treat!  This post will help you if you are too overwhelmed to move on.  It will help you have better confidence.  It has actually helped someone in my personal life achieve better physical health, because the stress in this person's life was affecting their physical health.  It can help you achieve so many things in this life!  

meditation, exercise, acts of kindness, journal, gratitude

This post is written by Randall Steinfeldt.

Well, it is been a while since my last contribution to the blog.  Since previous articles related to changing eating and exercise, I want to address something that contributes to more of the spiritual aspects of our lives.  As previously discussed real change comes slowly and with preceding significant contemplation.  Real change takes some reflection and also takes a decision to continue to stick with something.  In our lives we should be trying to make positive changes.  In other words things that give us lasting peace and contentment in life.  To go along with this I would like to address 5 things that if we incorporate into our lives will increase the chance of creating those lasting positive changes we are looking for.  Let me address these one at a time with some ideas of how we may incorporate them in our lives.

5 habits to create lasting positive change

#1 is gratitude.  Gratitude is one of the most powerful medications for alleviating depression and sadness in our lives.  If someone is grateful for what they have, they're not worried about what they don’t have.  They are not thinking about what other people have.  They are not feeling jilted or somehow ripped off because they are not given what they believe they deserve.  

So the first challenge is to give 3 gratitude’s per day.  This can be done a couple different ways.  One way would be prayer.  While praying to our Maker we can express at least 3 things that we are grateful for.  It is best that this is thought of before starting prayer.  Another way this can be done is to keep a small journal and in that journal write down 3 things that your grateful for.  It could be things that happened that day or that are currently taking place.  Everyone, even the most destitute have 3 things or more that they could be grateful for.  Often times it is a lack of looking that leads us to believe that we have nothing to be grateful for.

5 habits to create lasting positive change

#2 is journaling.  Keeping a journal helps us be able to reflect back on what was happening in the past.  Frequently when we reflect on the past we either remember only the good things or only the bad things.  Neither of these things are accurate.  Life is such that we have good and bad and both of these things can actually help us grow.  I prefer not to think of things as good and bad, but more in line with pleasant and unpleasant.  Things that are unpleasant are not necessarily bad.  Often times they are good and help us grow.  When we think of them as bad we have a tendency to feel victimized.  

Keeping a journal, will help turn the good/bad into pleasant/unpleasant, each of which we can learn from.  Keep it short and sweet, write down something that you witnessed during that day that was inspiring or uplifting.  It could be something that you yourself did, something that you witnessed, something that you read about, or something that you may have seen on the Internet.  Express in one or two sentences why that was uplifting or inspiring to you.  By doing this you are looking for things that are inspiring and uplifting.  What we look for, we find.  If we are only looking for the negative or demeaning things in life that is all that we will see.  Subsequently that becomes our sense of reference and everything that we choose to do from that point on comes from that sense of reference.

5 habits to create lasting positive change

#3 is exercise.  I have discussed this in previous contributions to the blog.  I will not go in detail, but simply state that if someone is just starting an exercise program or just starting to try and make lasting positive change keeping this step simple is important.  Set at least 5 minutes per day aside that you’ll do something active.  Try to move this up to 30 minutes per day but start off with 5 minutes.  Preferentially I recommend having this be outside.  Supposing ourselves to fresh air is vitally important.  Being outside removes us from the enclosed, confined areas of our homes or buildings and puts our mindset in perspective as to how beautiful things are around us.

5 habits to create lasting positive change

#4 is meditation.  This can be very scary thing for people, sometimes they think it is sitting on a bed of nails crossing your legs and making a humming sound.  It is not nearly so difficult, what I mean by meditation is simply taking a moment and focusing on the simple and easy things in life.  This can be done very simply by going to a quiet place, closing your eyes, and for 15 seconds (this is the starting time) focus only on whether you are breathing in or breathing out.  Keep the breathing slow (about 4 seconds in and 4 seconds out).  After mastering the 15 seconds move it up to 20 seconds, then 30, etc.  I recommend 1-5 minutes of this type of meditation per day.  I promise that if you take this simple step you will be surprised at how much better you’re able to focus on the things that hand, put things in perspective, organize things in your mind, and be more productive throughout the day.

5 habits to create lasting positive change

#5 is random ask of kindness.  Random does not mean unplanned, but does mean that it is unexpected by the recipient.  However, remember, we are trying to make life simple so don’t make it a great big thing.  This can be something simple such as doing the household chore for someone when it is unexpected.  Remember it is an act of kindness therefore it is not expected to be reciprocated, sometimes it will even go unnoticed by the person who it is done for.  This is okay; it is not for their benefit but for yours.  

One of my favorite things to do in this respect is to (when the right condition presents itself) ask for cash back at the grocery store, then take that cash and hand it back to the cashier and ask the cashier to look for someone that day that may need this money.  Then give it to them and let them know that it was given by a stranger that just wanted to help.  When I do this, I do not know who actually is the recipient of this money, but it does give me a perspective of peace throughout the rest of that day and sometimes this can last for quite a while.  My mind we’ll go crazy thinking of who it may have been and all of these thoughts will be positive and uplifting to me.  Because I have no idea who actually will receive the money I am not expecting anything in return except for the knowledge that I did something nice for someone.  

Another fun thing to do is the next time you are driving past some children who have a stand, like a lemonade stand, stop and actually buy some lemonade and talk to them.  Ask them what they’re planning to do with the money; they will be entertained by this.

I challenge all readers to take these 5 items and put them into practice for the next 30 days.  Watch what happens to your journaling.  You will be surprised how your thoughts and subsequently your actions have improved to become more positive and more peaceful.  You will find that you will be able to accomplish more things than you thought you were able to do.  I hope that you find these recommendations helpful.  Again I thank you for the opportunity to be able to contribute to this blog.

I told you it was good!  I (Shambray) am in the middle of doing these 5 habits.  I slip and fall sometimes, but I can tell you I have noticed a difference.  I have noticed that my mind and energy are focused on positive things instead of all the negative I was seeing before.  I am noticing a change and I hope to continue to notice it as I perfect these 5 habits.  Although my life is still hectic, it is under control and I am happy.  What more could I ask for? 

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