10 Lifestyle Changes That Will Always Pay Off
Change is never easy. As Garth Algar once said in Wayne's World, "we fear change." And that's natural. The unknown can present risks. It can pose a threat. Change can also be hard, whereas maintaining the status quo is easy. But hard lifestyle changes — like the 10 that follow — will always lead to a much better life for you. And best of all, they will cost you absolutely nothing.
1. Decluttering and Organizing
Whether it's the garage, the junk drawer, the closet, the kitchen, the basement, the attic, or all of the above, it's a task most of us put off. And keep putting off. The problem with decluttering and organizing is that things always look worse before they look better. If you pull everything out of that junk drawer, you've got a real mess on your hands. It's far easier to just close it and forget about it. But whatever is a mess at home, or at work, you need to attack it with vigor. Not only will you find things you thought were lost forever, you'll also free up space and feel better. And it will stop you from buying things over and over, because you can never find them. Chapstick, anyone? (See also: 12 Ways a Deep Declutter Will Improve Your Live)
2. Eating Well
It's hard to eat healthy, especially in this country. You can go to McDonald's right now and get two cheeseburgers, fries, and a soda for less than $5. It's filling, and it's tasty. Finding a healthy, filling, and convenient alternative for the same price — now that's a challenge. But we are what we eat, and study after study tells us that junk food and a lack of fruit and vegetables in our diet is making us all more susceptible to illness and disease. Limit fast food, eat smaller portions, and substitute unhealthy snacks for things like low-sugar granola bars, nuts, and fruits. (See also: 8 Ways to Save on Dinner — No Meal Planning Required)
3. Drinking More Water
Ricky Gervais has said that he hates drinking water "because it's boring." Many people feel the same way. Water is not the delight to the taste buds that coffee, soda, or a glass of chilled white wine is. But we need water. Many of us are actually dehydrated and we don't even realize it.
So, pledge to drink a little more water each day. Make it a habit. Add ice and a slice of lemon or lime. Have it with every meal, alongside a drink you find tastier. If it's there, you'll most likely drink some of it. It can make a huge difference to your health. (See also: 10 Tricks to Get You Drinking More Water)
4. Looking on the Bright Side
They say stress is one of the biggest killers in the world today. Stress can have a major negative impact on your blood pressure, your heart, your body, and your mood. It can lead to depression, and substance abuse. And many times, it can be alleviated by simply refusing to look for the worst possible outcome in every situation. It can be easy to dismiss people who are constantly cheery, but they really do have the advantage. While preparing for the worst can be a good idea, dwelling on it is not going to do you any favors. Don't worry about things out of your control. Don't focus on the negatives. Find ways to be thankful for the best things that happen to you every day.
5. Avoiding Gossip
Gossip can be toxic in any environment, either at work, at home, or in a circle of friends. Gossip can ruin people's lives, and can spread small falsehoods that grow into major incidents. But, gossip is fun. When someone calls you over to the water cooler surreptitiously, and says, "Hey, did you hear about John…," you naturally move in closer and get involved. It's rare that anything positive comes from a scenario like this, and you can be hurt by it, too. Just back out of these gossip sessions, and concentrate on facts and reality.
6. Exercising More
You do not need a gym membership. You do not need fancy workout clothes. You don't even need the best sneakers, although it's wise to get a pair that support your feet well. What you do need are determination and commitment. You should be getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, and while that is tough for most of us to achieve, it can be done. It doesn't have to be an intense workout with weights and treadmills. Walking up and down the stairs at home for 30 minutes can get your heart rate up and make you sweat. Push-ups, situps, and a jog around the block all cost nothing. Start with a few times a week, and then add a day here, and a day there. You'll be amazed at the results.
7. Finding Your Purpose
You sometimes hear people say, "I really want to find myself," and it's not easy to understand what they want, or what they mean. What is your purpose in life? What do you love doing? Why are you here, and what kind of difference are you making? This is not a call to change the world, cure cancer, or overthrow a dictator. It can be small. It can mean you focus on your family and raising your amazing children. It can be creating a wonderful garden that you tend to daily. It can be painting, or playing guitar, or working with wood. It's your purpose. Once you find it, you can feel really fulfilled every day.
8. Reading More
There are so many distractions in everyday life: exciting, visual, interactive, and engaging distractions. In comparison, picking up a book can be hard work. It's not as much fun as watching a movie in 4K, or playing an immersive video game. However, reading is important. It stimulates your brain in ways that those other distractions cannot. Your imagination can build worlds from those words you read that blow any special effects visual out of the water. And remember, your local library has thousands of books, fiction and nonfiction, that are there for you for free.
Meditation is not just for new-age hippies and yoga addicts. Meditation is something many people do, including celebrities like Katy Perry, Madonna, Hugh Jackman, Clint Eastwood, Eva Mendes, and Nicole Kidman. Our busy lives make it hard to find time to sit in silence and "get into ourselves," but it can have an incredible, transformational effect on your life. In the beginning, it can be difficult to train your mind, but over time, it can really pay off.
10. Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
Routines are very comforting to us. They are also ruts that are very easy to get stuck in, and we may not even recognize them as such. If you spend every Friday evening at home with a movie and a bottle of wine, that becomes habit. A routine. It's nice. But when people ask you to go to a comedy club, or take dance classes, or even go hiking, it's way easier to say no than yes. But "yes" can lead to some incredible life experiences.
If you're too afraid to approach someone in a bar, get over it. Move out of your comfort zone of smiling and looking coy, and actually say hi. Who knows where it may lead. Sure, it's not as comfortable. But it can also be exciting, maybe even scary, and that really gets your heart pumping. Who knows… you may even have fun!
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