Change Your Life in 30 Days

Significantly changing your life in 30 days really is possible, although not always easy. But even though this adventure is often a big challenge, the payoffs can be enormous.

We’ve all taken on challenges of one sort of another for 30 days. Maybe you tried a diet or an exercise program. Perhaps you decided to give up TV for 30 days. Even if you didn’t stick with the program long-term, the results were great, weren’t they? Now imagine if you expanded that idea to incorporate many areas of your life.

This program includes implementing several 30-day challenges simultaneously. You can use these suggestions or develop your own. Try creating a 30-day challenge from each category, and see where your new adventures lead you.

    1. Adjust your finances. Making more money or spending less is always a good financial theme. Alternatively, you might try balancing your accounts each day.
    2. Kick start your physical health. Diet, exercise, or combinations of both are great places to start. You could begin with something as simple as the doing the 20-minute yoga program that’s on TV every morning or taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
    3. Eliminate a time waster. Think about the amount of time you spend watching TV, surfing the Internet, window-shopping, playing video games, or lurking on Facebook. We all know the activities we tend to engage in when we’re bored or trying to avoid dealing with life’s challenges. Try getting rid of just one, and see how much more time you have!
    4. Add in another positive activity. Come up with something more enriching or satisfying than the time waster you’re eliminating. Maybe reading or taking a class would be in order. Perhaps you’ll spend all your newly found time playing a musical instrument.
    5. Commit to something else that appeals to you. Perhaps checking your email only 3 times a week or going to bed by 11:00 every night would be a beneficial habit you’d enjoy.

Tips for Success in Your Program

Now that you have some idea of changes you might want to make, how can you stick to them?

Try these ideas:

    1. Get enough sleep. If you set a challenge of cutting two hours of sleep each night (or even just one hour!), it’s going to make everything else more difficult. Regardless of whatever time-related goals you may set, allow yourself the 7-8 hours a night that you deserve.
    2. Set goals that you can do daily, seven days a week. Creating a new habit with an activity you only do 3 times a week is often much harder. Try to keep all new activities limited to ones you can do every day.
    3. Prepare ahead of time. Have everything you need in advance. Eliminate anything that might get in the way. For example, if you’re trying to follow a specific diet, buy the food you’ll need beforehand and get rid of food you want to avoid. You can’t break down and eat that bag of chips if there aren’t any chips in the house!
    4. Plan on social support. Tell your goals to your friends or family members that will support you in your efforts. Be careful in whom you confide. Changing is a challenge in itself. Success is harder if others are making unsupportive comments.

Trying to change several aspects of your life simultaneously may require other changes as well, depending on your chosen goals. All of our behaviors tend to interact with other behaviors, which can make changing any of them a demanding task.

For example, if you give up TV and junk food, and those are your main coping mechanisms for life’s challenges, you’re going to have to deal with your negative feelings a new way. Or better yet, you can face your concerns head-on. The distractions you’re used to falling back on may have just been ways to avoid the issues at hand.

To work this program, choose the 30-day challenges you can implement and get started. Remember to adequately prepare. If you can create several new positive habits and get rid of a few bad ones, your life will change dramatically for the better.

The Zen Habit of Stillness

You probably have friends and acquaintances who are always rushing about and complaining about their lack of alone time. Maybe they don’t even say anything about it because they don’t know any other way to be. Every moment, they’re busy. Maybe you’re one of them.

If you examine the lives of overly busy people, you’ll probably find that they’re not contented, happy people. There’s always so much to do and so little time. Perhaps you’re reading this because you feel rushed yourself and want to slow down and reap the benefits of being still.

Two Kinds of Stillness

You can be quiet in body and quiet in mind. Both are important. Being still physically saves you a lot of energy and effort. You feel less exhausted by the end of the day. Mental quietness has a similar effect on your psychological, intellectual, and emotional energy.

All you have to do to achieve stillness of body is to finish your chores and then relax. Even while you’re completing your tasks, you can conserve energy by using little movement. To get an idea of how to do this, just watch a monk in action. Or notice how a cat relaxes.

Stillness of mind is more challenging to achieve. However, this kind of quietness is much more critical to overall contentment. 

How do you feel when you get some shocking news? How about when you finally reach your target at work, win an award, or find yourself suddenly in a crisis? You feel a rush of adrenaline and you’re off, letting off steam in a gush of emotion, words or action.

So if this is such a natural response to big changes, why do you need to cultivate stillness? When you’re in the middle, when you’re centered, you can see both ends of the spectrum.

When you refrain from reacting in an extreme way, you can control your response to the situation. You can be objective. Most importantly, you can learn from your circumstances and use them for self-development.

From another perspective, when you’ve cultivated internal quietness, you’re less likely to face extreme ups and downs.

Try these tips to develop a still mind:

  1. Stop. In an extreme situation, pull away from the circumstance for a moment. Take a deep breath before you react.
  2. Listen. Listen carefully to what’s being said. If your mind jumps the gun with words you feel compelled to speak, bring it back to the moment. Return your attention to what the other is saying.
  3. Think. Contemplate why you’re facing the situation. Did you play a part in creating it? Is the other simply mirroring you? Is there something you need to learn from this circumstance?

If you take these steps, you’ll be able to avoid overreacting or reacting negatively in haste. This means your response, if and when it does come, will be the right one for the circumstances and for you.

 The Importance of Silence 

Another way to develop mental stillness is to practice silence. Speak only when necessary. Speak only when you have something of consequence to say or something that will help the other.

Before you speak, examine your motivation for saying what you want to say. Is it to further the welfare of the other? Or is it to praise yourself or prove that you’re right and the other wrong? A need to always be right is the basis of much conflict.

Moreover, when you’re habitually silent, your words have more effect. People pay attention when you speak.

As you work toward greater self-awareness, try cultivating internal stillness. Just follow these guidelines as a start. As you practice, you’ll realize many rewards.

Successfully Manage Procrastination

Surely you procrastinate at one time or another – or maybe all the time. Even if you’re one of those unusual folks who only procrastinate occasionally, you’ll find some helpful hints here for managing this habit.

Getting your tasks completed on time is a sign that you have control over yourself and your life. You’ll enjoy the feeling of having more control over your life! You’ll be free from that familiar chaos that ensues each time a deadline looms or you finish a task late.

Following these tips can help you put procrastination in its place – in your past:

1. It’s largely about the pain. Now or later? Do you want to suffer now or suffer later? Those who get things done on time would rather just get it over with. Those who procrastinate would rather wait.

• As a procrastinator, you usually get active when the pain of doing it is less than the pain of not doing it. The ironic thing is that by waiting, the pain is far greater than if the task would’ve been managed earlier.
• Getting it done now just makes so much more sense. You’ll suffer less in the long run and you won’t have the mental challenge of the task hanging over your head for days or weeks.

2. Change your mindset. Instead of thinking about how much you don’t want to do it, try focusing on how good you’ll feel when you’re done!

• Try to associate as much positive feeling as you can about getting it done and out of the way. When you can think about the task and feel positive about it, it’s as good as finished.

• By the same token, try to associate pain to getting it done late or at the last minute. Imagine how it will feel if you’re late. What would the consequences be?

3. Just get started. It can be very difficult to even get started on a large task. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself just start on the task. Once you get going, you can establish some momentum and then it’s not usually so bad.

• Try setting up a schedule where you do 10% each day or reward yourself for getting a certain amount accomplished.

• Frequently you’ll find that if you can just get started, it’s not nearly as challenging as you anticipated. The first step always seems to be the toughest.

4. Get some help. Sometimes involving other people can be motivational. Maybe a friend can assist you in getting your task done. Feeling like you’re not all alone in the situation can ease the challenge of completing the task in question.

5. Make a list of the ways you waste time. Being aware of the things you tend do instead of the things you should be doing will make it easier to catch yourself when you stray.
• Some common ways of wasting time would include television, surfing the internet, email, shopping trips with no real purpose, and more. If you know your tendencies, you’ll be able to spot them more easily.

6. Track your progress at the end of each day. You wouldn’t try to lose weight without getting on the scale once in a while. Every day, measure your progress so you can really see where you are.

Procrastination doesn’t have to be a constant part of your life. Focus on how good you’ll feel to have it done and out of the way. The tips above are a good starting point. If you can stop relying on stress-induced adrenaline as motivation to take action, you’ll feel a much greater sense of control over your life. Get started with these tips right away!

Manage Self-Talk and Improve Your Life

Self-talk is an integral constant in your life. You start talking to yourself when you wake up in the morning and don’t stop until you fall asleep at night. Who would’ve thought you had so much to say? Right? But you do!

When self-talk is positive and helpful, amazing things can happen. When self-talk is negative, life can be much more challenging than it has to be.

Like much of who you are, your style of self-talk is a habit that has been molded by your experiences and environment. Imagine how your life could change for the better if you were able to alter your self-talk into something more supporting and encouraging.

You can start living that life today! Just follow these simple steps to get started:

1. Make a list of your negative self-talk phrases and attitudes. For 24 hours, record everything you say to yourself that isn’t supportive, regardless of whether or not you think it’s true. Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

• “He would never want to talk to me.”
• “I’m not good enough for that.”
• “I could never do that.”
• “Things will never get better.”

2. Prioritize your list. Which items have the greatest negative impact on your life and your sense of happiness? Put the list in order, from greatest negative impact to least.

• Prioritizing is important because it will naturally force you to spend your time on the most important items.

3. Create a new list. Now that you’ve made your list, you’re going to improve it. Convert at least the first 10 items on your list into positive thoughts. If you’re feeling motivated, you can rewrite as many more as you like.

Even if you don’t believe the new, positive idea, just change it into a positive version. For example, “I could never do that” changes to, “I can do anything I set my mind to.”

4. Change your thinking. Now, for the challenging part. Each time you catch yourself engaging in self-talk matching an item from your list, substitute the new self-talk expression.

• Be diligent at all times. Considering how many times you may have said the negative item to yourself, this new practice will require a lot of attention. The good news is that over time, the positive things you say to yourself will become a habit, too!

5. Move further down the list. After you’ve conquered the 10 most negative items, look at the list and consider how it would improve your life to change those remaining negative self-talk items. You may have formed such positive habits with your first 10 items that the rest of them might not really be applicable anymore!

Self-talk will always be there, so it will benefit you to exercise some control over it. Anything you hear over and over again, you start to believe. That’s the way our minds work.

The first step to gaining that control is to monitor your thoughts and feelings. Then the necessary steps can be taken to change it for the better. As with all habits, these self-talk patterns can be challenging to change, but doing so will really boost your happiness. Get started today!

How to Sit Comfortably While Meditating

Learning to sit comfortably while meditating will help you welcome more relaxation and peace of mind into your life. If you’d like to start meditating but feel too uncomfortable to sit for long, these steps will help.

Steps to Take Between Your Meditation Sessions:

1.      Keep limber. It’s easier to sit comfortably if you work on improving your flexibility in advance. Many people use yoga to accomplish this, but any program of gentle stretching will help. Just remember to warm up first to prevent injury.

2.      Maintain a healthy body weight. Meditating can give you one more good reason to shed any excess pounds. You may feel more comfortable while meditating if you keep physically fit.

3.      Breathe deeply. Breathing correctly plays a major role in meditating. Make it a habit to breathe from your diaphragm so your abdomen falls and rises rather than your chest. Let the air flow through your nostrils instead of your mouth.

4.      Practice good posture. You’re more likely to practice good posture on the cushion if you keep track of it even when you’re not meditating. Try to always be aware of keeping your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Imagine you’re pushing your abdomen gently toward your back so you hold it slightly tucked.

5.      Cultivate a calm mind. You’ll get more out of meditating if you try to hold onto a calm mind all day. If you start your meditation session in a peaceful state of mind, it will be easier to get into position faster and spend more time focused on your objectives.

Steps to Take During Your Meditation Sessions:

1.      Start gradually. It’s great if you’re all ready for the full lotus position, but there’s nothing wrong with making a more gradual start. Sit in a chair if it’s painful to sit on the floor. Sit for a few minutes at a time to begin with, and then increase the time in steady increments.

2.      Position your body correctly. No matter how you sit, keep your back straight and your abdomen tucked under. Pretend your head is being gently lifted by a balloon so you hold it high without straining your neck. If you use a chair, keep both feet flat on the floor. If you use a cushion, cross your legs and bring your feet toward your waist.

3.      Shift positions when you need to. Your ability to sit still for longer periods will naturally increase with time but it’s always okay to shift positions if you feel pain or stiffness. Stand up and stretch or just re-cross your legs placing the other leg on top for a while. Roll your shoulders or gently bend your head toward one shoulder at a time.

4.      Figure out what to do with your hands. There are two options that work well: rest your hands on your knees or rest them in your lap. Any arrangement that keeps your hands supported and out of the way is fine.

5.      Hold your tongue. As you move your focus inwards and stop talking, you may experience discomfort as you become more aware of the saliva in your mouth. One easy solution is to touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue. This naturally inhibits the flow of saliva.

6.      Lower your eyes. If visual images distract you, try lowering your eyelids so there’s just a small sliver of light before you. Keep your eyes softly focused without targeting any single object. You can even close your eyes as long as it doesn’t encourage you to fall asleep.

Meditation can transform your life with spiritual insights and greater peace. Learning to sit comfortably will help you focus on your objectives without any aches and pains getting in the way.