There is so much information out there about how to be our best selves. When we wake up and realize we’re not living the life we should, we make a list of what needs to change.
- Eat better
- Exercise more
- Be kind
- Spend more time relaxing
Then we look at this list day after day and wonder how to get it all done. We wonder how to transition from the life we’re living to the life we want to be living, because these tasks seem too daunting. That’s where the idea of “small steps” comes in. A total life overhaul is not possible in one day, one week, one month, or one year, despite what the infomercials for diets, workout videos, and supplements will tell you.
So we limit our sugar intake, eat less processed foods, drink more water, walk around the block every morning, smile at strangers, and take a vacation. We keep making small changes that feel good and that move us in the direction of our ideal life.
We keep thinking about the future “us.” We will be so healthy and so fit that we’ll climb a mountain, complete an Ironman competition, and cycle across the country to raise money for charity, all in the same month. We know that when we get there, we’ll be happy. Those nagging thoughts of what will be keep our minds in a constant state of unrest.
When we are living with a great deal of certainty in our lives— say, a great, long term job or a loving, supportive partner—it is common for most of us to start seeking uncertainty. We feel anxious or bored with the status quo. Conversely, when there is a great deal of upheaval in our lives, and we feel uncertainty, it is common to seek solace in what certainty we do have. We feel thankful for our committed partner and for having a great job.
Living in the certainty and uncertainty cycle is common for so many of us. But it’s important to recognize that on both ends of the pendulum we are seeking something which we don’t have. Dr. Mark Menolascino of the Meno Clinic Center for Advanced Medicine in Jackson Hole, WY, explains that the way to overcome this cycle of constantly looking for something we don’t already have, is to embrace what is happening currently. He gives these five steps to follow to help us create the life we want, by accepting the life we have:
1. Focus on living in the present—try to stop feeling regret about the past or anxiety about the future. Start from where you are right now.
2. Choose to have a positive attitude—you control how you view any given situation, so start to frame things in a positive way. Give thanks for what you have, especially things that you often overlook—like a roof over your head, food to eat, and the love of family and friends.
3. Write down your goals—just because you’re trying to live in the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t have goals. Phrase your goals as if you’ve already achieved them.
4. Laugh and smile—the acts of laughing and smiling help you maintain a positive outlook on current situations. Both help you stay in the present by reacting happily in the moment.
5. Use daily affirmations—these can be similar to mantras and should be repeated over and over at anytime you feel the need to be reminded of staying in the present moment. The affirmations should help remind you of what you are grateful for.
--excerpted from healthrealizations.com newsletter (04/07/14) article The Life You Live vs the Life You Want to Live
These steps should help you feel pleased with your life as it is now, maintain a positive outlook, and remind you to live in the present. As you begin to feel more satisfied with your life as you know it, you’ll find that opportunities come your way that don’t throw your life out of balance as they once had. Instead, you’ll be able to make small steps toward getting your life into perfect balance.