Five Things that Changed my Life
5 Things that Changed my Life:
I want to share with you five things that I implemented into my life that created amazing, compounding change, and completely shifted the direction and energy of my life. I came to them through reading, talking with others, and taking an honest look at my circumstances and the chain of events that led me to be where I was. I was discouraged by the drudgery, loneliness, and lack of direction I found embedded in my day to day experience. I used the wisdom and experience of many to create a plan of action that has surprised me with it's effectiveness and simplicity. Change is available to everyone, and it is available right now.
I remember how helpful first hand accounts from others were to me and I hope to pass a little of that along here today. So, here are five simple things I did that changed my life:
1) Tell the truth.
Tell the truth, all the time, no matter what. We've all heard this all our lives and yet even the best of us would be hard pressed to claim we adhere to it. I, on the other hand, was a fibber, fudger, and avoid-er of responsibility extraordinaire. It was a long over due lesson. I really took this to heart after reading The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch. Although I didn't love the language and rhythm of the book, I did find him to be pragmatic and effective in his life, and all of his advice was right on the money. I decided to do it.
The key to all of these is action. Action, more then words or thoughts (though they have their place) has been the key to real change in my life. Deciding to tell the truth was one thing, but the real magic happened when I did it. If someone asked me a question, I answered it honestly and immediately. If I screwed up I stood up and said so. It created a small amount of squirming and a tidal wave of relief and freedom. Free of the worry and shame lies create, I have been able to bring a calm confidence to my personal and professional life that has created a myriad of new opportunities and experiences.
When you lie you make an Ass of yourself. Live with integrity.
Oprah has been trying to get me to do this for ten years now and I once again am rolling my eyes and saying "You were right, Oprah." It actually appears in nearly every writing on life skills I came across, in one form or another.
It doesn't matter how you go about it, but injecting gratitude into your life will completely shift your perspective. I simply bought a blank notebook and began listing off all the things I was grateful for. The sunset I saw driving on the highway, my dog sleeping in a sunbeam, the giant cinnamon roll I ate for lunch, whatever.
I added a second part to this by drawing a line on each page to create a top and bottom section. The top remained my daily Gratitude, the bottom became a section for future aspirations, written in the present tense, and doled out with preemptive Gratitude. Kind of like a "Hey just in case you were thinking of giving me something, I'm already grateful for it, so...bring it on." This looked like - I am so happy and grateful now that I : Own my own home. Am A published author. Have $500,000. I was specific. As time went on I watched items move from the bottom section to the top as they came to be realities in my life. It has been a powerful experience for me.
3)Deal with Insomnia
Due to a variety of causes I found myself with chronic and sometimes debilitating insomnia that varied from total sleeplessness to a restless and interrupted rest of three or four hours. This has a cumulative effect. I was always tired, mentally dull, experienced many mysteries aches and pains, and was often sick, catching every cold that came within a half mile of me. Rest for the body and mind is essential. I complained a lot about it but actually did very little to try to amend the situation. I simply let myself stew in it, proclaiming "I never get a good night's sleep. I can't sleep."
So what to do? Basically what every book, doctor and concerned friend will tell you to do, the key is action. Here's what worked for me:
a) Exercise 20-60 minutes per day: This depends on what you are doing currently, while experiencing insomnia. I had a fairly physically demanding job, but I added an hour walking the dog five days a week (really chugging along, get the heart rate up) and two 20 minutes strength sessions per week, weights, sit-ups, lunges, etc. It is good for the body and mind. As my friend said, "The only people who couldn't sleep in the good old days were alcoholics when the still ran dry, everyone else worked from dawn to dusk and fell down dead at the end of the day." Well I didn't want to start scratching out a living on a farm, so I started walking. It helped. A lot.
b) Routine: I started going to bed within a one hour window, and waking up within a one hour window, regardless of what was going on. For me this was to bed between ten and eleven, and up between five and six. So even if I had the day off I was up at six. If I couldn't fall asleep at eleven, especially at first, I got up and read or wrote. No tv or computer or cleaning project or late night snack/beverage. If I fell asleep at five a.m. I still rolled out of bed at seven a.m. No day-time napping! This is tricky at first, while your still not sleeping well, but it is essential, and gets easier day by day.
c) Avoiding "stuff" : Caffeine after four; food after six; bright lighting after nine (light affects sleep hormones); all sleep aids, prescription or over the counter (this was a personal choice, it worked for me in the long run); an overheated bedroom (studies show the best sleep happens in a cool room, under 70 degrees); dirty sheets; evening stress; any light or noise in my room when going to bed (especially glowing clock numbers staring black death at you or a flashing-charging cell phone).
d) I wrote on the bottom half of my Gratitude journal the following : I am so happy and Grateful that I sleep soundly every night and wake rested.
These days I look forward to going to bed, it is a simple pleasure to sleep soundly and wake rested, and I am grateful for it.
4) Get rid of excess.
This is a regular purging that began with the first big purge. I got rid of everything I didn't love and cherish and want right up front in my life. I started with clothes, going through everything and donating bags of stuff to Goodwill. I used the "If you have to think about it, get rid of it." mantra from Peter Walsh's, It's all too Much. This worked wonders and I have never missed any of those "oh I don't know" items that I ditched. If I didn't wear it and love the way I looked in it, then I gave it away.
I did this with everything I owned. Everything. I gave away books and skillets and waffle irons and make-up. I threw out pounds of junk. It has freed up space for new things. And it created order and beauty in my environment. I love it and do it as matter of course now, like laundry.
5) Do something you love every day.
I was always put off by this advice when I encountered it. I think I imagined this was like dropping everything and moving to Morocco, or buying a bed and breakfast on the cape. In practice though I have found this to be the absolute easiest and most wondrous thing. It simply takes sitting back and identifying what you love. I came up with the following:
1. Walking my dog.
5.Being with people I love.
It's been a snap to work at least one of these into every single day. Often I can get all of them. It's easy when you have a clear idea of what you love and you make it a priority. Overtime I found these things became embedded in my life, a part of the structure that makes up my days.
Well that's it. Those are the five things I did that completely changed my life. I hope you've found something useful here. I never would have believed how wonderful life could be a mere three years ago. I never believed anyone that claimed a position of peace. But right now I know that life is limitless in the joy and wonder it can dish out.
Well good luck! And thanks for reading my hub : )
- Peter Walsh Design | The Official Organizer Clutter Free Website
- The Last Lecture | Randy Pausch
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch--the lecture that captivated the world is now a book to inspires millions.
- Official Website of Eckhart Tolle, Author of A New Earth
Official site for this best-selling author of A New Earth and The Power of Now. Find out where he will be speaking next, read excerpts from his works, view video clips from his teaching events, find his complete teaching series on CD and DVD.