I read somewhere once that people are basically just plants with more complex emotions and that all we need is food, water and sunlight to thrive. That may only be partially true, but I do believe the things that afford us our best lives are simple, easy and mostly free. That’s right. Despite what Instagram tells us, to truly live your best life, you don’t need to be poppin’ bottles with models on a yacht, although that doesn’t sound bad at all. If you’re imbalanced at your core, even the most luxurious of indulgences aren’t going to fill you up. These are the suggestions based on personal experience that have enhanced my quality of life and I hope they can be integrated into your day to put a little pep in your step as well.
Start the day with gratitude. If you’re like me you probably wake up to a blaring alarm clock, trying to figure out who, what and where you are, thrashing around to find your cell phone while your body reminds you of your age with ever pop, crack and ache. But before your feet hit the floor, take just a moment to find ONE thing, just one, to really truly be thankful for. Even if it’s just the lumpy mattress you woke up on, or the fact you own a cell phone, you’re still living better than some. Be grateful you have yet another opportunity to live.
Care about what you put in your body. I am the first to admit I love to indulge on good food and drink. Whether it’s a 6 course culinary tour of the tastebuds paired with wine, or just a night of deliciously greasy pizza, wings and beers, I get a lot of joy out of stuffing my face with things that taste good. However, those things are not meant to be your main source of nutrition. Keep your diet simple by trying to eat things that don’t have to be manipulated much to consume- things like lean proteins, fresh veggies and fruits and nuts. Add in some whole grains and full fat dairy if you want. Listen, I would love to live off of brownie a’la mode and chicken tenders, but my body operates better when I’m giving it what it needs and not what it wants. Train yourself to eat for fuel not for taste and your entire perspective on food will change.
Elevate your heart rate at least 30 minutes a day. Whether it’s 2 brisk 15 minute walks around the block or a 2 hour gym sesh, get your blood pumping for that minimum of 30 minutes. That is 2% of your day. Do me a favor and check your activity on Instagram. I can guarantee we all average more than 30 minutes a day doing that. Walk your dog, climb on the treadmill that is being used as a clothes hanger and catch up on your favorite show, play kickball with your kids, just do something. Like Elle Woods says, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands.”
Get outside. Like plants, we do need a certain level of sunshine to thrive. Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone pain and muscle weakness and has been associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children and even cancer. Even if the weather sucks, try to get in as much time in fresh air as possible and definitely take advantage of those nice days. Eat your lunch outside or take your laptop to a patio. Many of the things we do from the comfort of the couch can also be done outside.
Drink plenty of water. Just do it. If humans were meant to survive off soda and sweet tea, the skies would rain down with Mountain Dew. Drinking water will give you clearer skin, make you lose weight, help with digestion, alleviate headaches and just all around solve a lot of your problems. Stay hydrated.
Listen to music. Whatever makes you feel something when you hear it, listen to that. Sometimes I get so stuck on listening to podcasts or having the TV on just for background noise, that I forget how powerful music can be. If I’m having a bad day, the right song can make me smile. It can pump me up for a workout, cause me to dance in my kitchen while I’m making dinner, help me unwind in the tub, or if the wrong thing comes on my shuffle, it can turn my guts and make me cry. Never underestimate the power of music in your life and try to explore genres that you may not be familiar with.
Unplug and focus inward for at least 15 minutes. This is a tough one for me. I’ve mentioned before that it’s near impossible for me to meditate. My mind is constantly ticking and I always feel like I need to be doing something. Just by checking my activity time on Instagram like I mentioned before, I am horrified at the amount of time I spend just scrolling. You really don’t realize how much those quick log-ins at red lights or from the bathroom start to add up, but if I were to be spending that amount of time daily on a porno site, people would say I had an addiction. Look, this new way of life is doing us no favors. Laying down in bed and scrolling until you fall asleep is damaging relationships with partners and affecting the quality of sleep, and that’s a proven fact. Put the phone down at least 15 minutes before you fall asleep. Take that time to connect with your partner, or meditate or make a to-do list for the next day. We’re all addicted to our phones and we need an intervention.
I hope these little tidbits can be a welcome addition to your life like they have mine. Try to integrate them and still enjoy your indulgences. A life of moderation is a life well-lived!