Have you seen that happy woman who walks down the street with her shoulders back, head held high, and a bouncy strut in her step? What about the woman at your office that always has a smile on her face, even during stressful times, and seems to simply have everything together? What about your neighbor who is busy with her family and work, yet seems to still find time to go twice a week to her yoga class and doesn’t feel guilty about it?
Have you wondered what these women have in common? Are they lucky? Do they have the perfect kids and spouse? Are they just fake? NO! These are women who love themselves, know the importance of loving themselves, make loving themselves a priority, and they know they are better spouses, moms, sisters, daughters, employees, and friends because of it.
How do they get to this point? It is done in 10 simple every day habits. They are:
- Take care of your mind. It is essential in life to have a positive mind. This means to accept yourself for who you are. Even if you are trying to enhance a certain aspect of your life or change something about yourself, you are still beautiful as you are and it is important to love yourself through whatever changes you are trying to make. Taking care of your mind is also about having positive thoughts towards yourself and others. As soon as you have a negative thought enter your head, acknowledge it, but then send it away. Keep it away by thinking three positive thoughts. Try it!
- Take care of your body: No matter your age or overall health, I think everyone has experienced a health set-back at one time or another and know just how limiting that can be. Even if it is a headache, a toothache, or a sprained ankle, let alone if it is something much larger and debilitating, you notice a set-back and it slows you down. Therefore, taking care of your body is essential to self-love, and this is done through a healthy diet and regular exercise. I am not going to talk in this article about how to eat and how often to work out, but I am going to stress the importance of keeping your body healthy and moving. When you are not limited in any way, you are better able to do all the things you want in this world. And that, my friend, is living!
- Take care of your spirit. This can be done in a variety of ways, including: reading, going to church, meditating, taking a walk in nature, getting a massage, and taking a bubble bath. Anything that slows down your mind and body and breath for a while so you can center yourself, focus, contemplate, and dream is my definition of taking care of your spirit. The purpose for it is to calm your mind and be at peace.
- They know their value: You can usually spot a woman who knows her value a mile away because she is confident, steadfast, and poised. What a beautiful sight! Knowing your value is to know exactly what you stand for, what you will not tolerate, and qualities that you want in your life on a regular basis. When you know your values well, you live in alignment with those and they guide most decisions in your life. If you do not already have a handful of values that you live by, I highly encourage you to take some time to identify your values. Taking it a step further and defining what each one means to you helps them to stick a little better too! An example of values, and using my own, they can include words such as: integrity, thankful, openness, drive, commitment, and capable.
- Know their limits: When a person knows themselves well, including their likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses, they save themselves a lot of headaches. If you really hate cooking and simply are not good at it, when asked to bring something to the holiday dinner, you offer to bring the wine and flowers for a centerpiece. Why force yourself to do something that does not bring you joy and will stress you out when you can still contribute in a way that works for everyone? This is knowing your limits. When you remember this you are a happier, more productive person.
- They have learned that no is a complete sentence: I believe most people in this world want to be helpful. Some people allow that desire to get the best of them where they say yes to everything. Over time, there is a feeling that you “have” to say yes because people are counting on you. Well, you need to count on yourself, too, and stand up for you and your needs. Once you realize this, you will say no more often and learn that you do not need to explain yourself. You are not being mean or rude or selfish. You simply cannot do it. Even if your time was scheduled for you to take a bubble bath – it is your time, you need it, and it is part of your overall health. Actually, when you begin to say no you are opening up an opportunity for someone else to say yes. Please look at it this way!
- Schedule your day so you can be a free spirit: Huh? Reading that might sound counter-intuitive. Many people feel that either you are a planner or you are a free spirit, and they feel that having a schedule takes away their fun. Actually, nothing can be further from the truth! When you have a schedule, you get all of your things done so you have more time for play. An example of this is scheduling your Saturday morning to clean the house because your in-laws are coming Sunday morning to stay for a week while their floors are getting replaced. You didn’t do what you had planned, it is now Saturday afternoon and your friend who you haven’t seen in 10 years has an 8-hour unexpected layover in your city and wants to meet you. Ugh! You want to see her so badly, but you didn’t clean your house and your persnickety mother-in-law is going to arrive the next morning. Are the bed sheets even washed? Yikes! Since you didn’t do what you planned to do, you no longer have as much freedom as you would like. More than likely you are going to meet your friend (as you should), but you will need to stay up very late cleaning the house because, at a minimum, you must have clean sheets on the bed for your guests! Now you will be tired and even grumpier when your in-laws arrive to stay with you for a week. Your free-spirit is a bit crushed because you didn’t follow your schedule.
- Make and take time for fun: When you take time for fun you recharge your batteries, which is essential to good health — in mind, body and spirit. Usually when you take time for fun you reconnect with your family or friends and catch up on each other’s lives and hopefully have tons of laughter too. Another way of having fun is jumping in the car and going for a Sunday drive, taking a weekend to visit your neighboring town or state, or taking a vacation. Whatever you end up doing, when you take time for fun you are re-energized, and with renewed energy you have better focus, and with better focus you are more efficient, and with more efficiency you are getting your things done, and with getting your things done you have more time for fun again! See – it’s a WIN-WIN!
- Live generously. It is important to give back as often as you can. This can be done via your time, talents or money. If you have something that is extra in your life, it is a beautiful idea to share when and where you can. People who volunteer their time is a great example of this as the world could not exist without volunteers—people who are unselfish with their time and desire to help others. The same is true for making financial donations where and when you can, ranging from buying Girl Scout cookies to Boy Scout popcorn to making a monthly donation to your favorite charity. An area of giving generously where I feel people oftentimes forget is with your talents. If you are a semi-retired man who enjoys twisting a wrench under the hood of your car, and your neighborhood kid keeps riding his bike ever so slowly checking out what you are doing, consider waving him in to see if he is interested to learn. If you are a person who makes beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, consider inviting your nieces or nephews over to learn how to do it. People learn new things when someone else takes the time to show them, and they learn it so much better when it is one-on-one and when they are literally taken under someone’s wing.
- Live gratefully. It is essential to regularly stop and give thanks for all that you have in your life. Please think of being grateful beyond the obvious big things in life such as a job promotion, buying a new home, or getting a raise. Those things are wonderful and definitely worth celebrating. However, gratitude is in the smaller, every-day activities in life. They can be an out-of-the-blue hug from your child, movie night with your family, leftovers for dinner because it gives you extra time for something else. You get the picture. Life is made of the small details in life that put a small smile on your face. You want to know what else is great about gratitude? You will find that once you start practicing it regularly you are given even more in which to be thankful for! It is like the Universe’s way of telling you thank you for noticing.
How many of these ten things do you practice regularly? Do you find some easier than others? Have you done some for so long that you don’t even think about it anymore. If you care to share your perspective on this list, please do. Also, if you feel I missed something for the list, please share.