Life changing habits: Practice gratitude

I’m grateful for so many things in my life.

One thing in particular is my right hand because I use it to write and writing is something that I attribute to so much of who I am as a person, like that’s how deep it goes.

I usually do a morning gratitude when I’m still in bed, when I’m brushing my teeth or when I’m walking to the bus stop.

I even do it when I’m in a bad mood. It never fails to lift my spirit because it reminds me that I have so much goodness that I can focus on and so much that I easily forget or look past because it’s always around.

I never thought something as simple as being grateful could actually have that much of an impact.

When it comes to things that are life changing we often fall into thinking it has to be big and dramatic “just like they do on the tv” but more often than not that’s not the case.

I’m grateful for my hope, curiosity, resilience, laughter, my job, my friends, my right hand, the park by my house, my grandparents…

The list goes on because my life is overflowing with things to be grateful for.

When I truly learned how to take that in, it changed my life.

Life changing habits: Transmute your feelings

Whenever I felt sad, jealous angry etc. my first instinct used to be to sit in it and wallow. I’d maybe play The Smiths, The Stone Roses or some other type of moody music and fall into some deep dark depression with thoughts like ‘there’s nothing in this life for me’.

This might sound dramatic or like an over exaggeration but it’s how I truly felt and it became this habit that I’d grown to almost find comfort in.

I’d also write as I was keen to document the woes in my life because sometimes it felt like nobody else saw what I was going through.

However, these days if I’m feeling jealous for example, I’m also aware of the fact that I often want things simply because I don’t have them and often once I get them, I get bored pretty quick.

I think it’s also important to remember that just because someone has things that you don’t have it doesn’t make your life any less good.

In my experience, most of the time if I start to feel jealous it’s because I’m focusing too much on other people instead of myself. It’s the perfect time to practice gratitude and once I do that my feelings change to joy, curiosity and excitement at the possibilities of life.

When I get sad or angry I turn it into a growth point and figure out what the takeaway is. I let myself know that it is okay to feel whatever I’m feeling, whilst reminding myself that I don’t need to sit in the feelings and wallow but I also remain patient with myself.

Most of the sadness or anger I’ve felt comes from not setting boundaries, not being open, trying to please others and sometimes it’s things that I have no control over.

In moments like these I transmute my feelings into joy by practising gratitude, remembering the joys of life and what it feels like to be me and love myself. But also just being present which is something I learnt from reading The Power of Now.

I’m learning to not wallow in my feelings but to feel them and move on. It’s fine to feel angry about something but you don’t have to hold onto it.

One of my favourite quotes I’m not sure who it’s by but it’s something like ‘Don’t let life make you hard’ and it has so much meaning to me because sometimes I fall into that.

But on the other hand, life can also be beautiful, wonderful and so full of joy.

Life changing habits: Let go of expectations

This used to be one of my worst habits.

I’d do this thing where I’d place a lot of expectations on people that left no room for humanness and left me feeling disappointed.

Once I realised that I did this I started making a conscious effort to stop. I’ve learnt how to catch myself in the act and it is such a blessing.  It means I’m much less bothered by what people do.

Letting go of expectation has made some relationships a lot easier. It has also helped me clarify that in some cases I’m more invested than the other person and that we should probably just part ways.

It’s also about balance. For example, expecting a friend to make time to see you realistic but if you’re always expecting your friend to be free and getting upset or annoyed when they’re busy, you might want to reassess your expectations.

Life changing habits: Daily mantras

A tool I use to sort of re-calibrate so that my intentions are focused on a specific thing.

When I was looking for a job in the past I did daily mantras for at least a month then I ended up getting 3 job offers within the space of a few weeks.

I get that some people don’t believe in the power of mantras but I’m not saying it’s a magic fix. It’s more a case of what you focus on grows, it sort of becomes in sociological terms a self fulfilling prophecy. I’m a big believer that if you don’t think it’ll work then it probably won’t.

And if you don’t trust me trust Henry Ford who said ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.’

It’s been life changing for me because the things I’ve declared have come to pass. I try and focusing on bringing more of the good stuff in and letting the stuff no longer serving me fall away and mantras help with that.

Life changing habits: Focus on yourself

Probably the most obvious life changing habit of all, yet in this society with the prominence of social media in our everyday lives it can feel almost impossible.

How do you engage with the content of strangers without getting sucked in and forgetting about you?

I find that disconnecting is key, as in closing the app or logging out.

But it is also useful to make time to ask yourself the important questions like: How does this make me feel? Or is this a valuable use of my time?

The balance between focusing on yourself and what others are doing should always heavily be tipped in your favour.

I feel much better doing hand embroidery, going for a walk or drawing than I do focusing on the lives of strangers.

It doesn’t better my life to know that you had poached eggs on avo toast for breakfast or that you just bought another pair of Manolo Blahniks.

But don’t get me wrong I enjoy that kind of content a lot but I shouldn’t be focusing on others more than myself.

The same way you could with great ease spend an hour watching YouTube videos or 30 minutes scrolling Instagram should be the same way you spend time on yourself.

I’d prefer the opposite

I’m posing the question of why we sometimes end up saying yes instead of no, or no instead of yes.

It’s related to fear, the root of a whole lotta life hassles.

You say yes to something you don’t want to do because you’re a people pleaser, you don’t want to disappoint the person and you want them to like.

You say no to something you want to do because you’re scared you won’t be good at it, it comes with uncertainty and you’re worried about what other people will think.

Or, perhaps you can’t relate as each decision you make is so in line with your core self that you know how to voice what it is you really want (or don’t want).

If you feel that you align with the former, all is not lost, your awareness means change is possible.

It’ll just take some practice.

Getting to know you

How exactly does one discover themselves?

Through exploration, experimentation and being open to the unknown.

If you live your life in the box of what you know, you may think that you know yourself. But actually, there is so much more of you to explore outside of that box.

As much as there is ‘the me I know’ inside of the box, there is also ‘the me I don’t know’ outside of it.

Granted you can’t experience every single thing in life but you can try things that are outside of your usual routine.

It can be big or it can be small.

Things like:

  • Journaling
  • Visiting a new city
  • Joining a group or class
  • Doing the thing you’ve always thought about doing but kept putting off
  • Volunteering
  • Meditation
  • Going for a walk

You might think you know yourself or that you’re content with your life. But when you do a journal prompt like ‘Describe your dream life’ you might find you’re nowhere near where you want to be. Maybe you settled for an unfulfilling ‘stable’ job and you never even took the time to figure out what you truly wanted to do for a living.

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”

– Rumi