I believed I should be able work full time, parent full time, maintain a clean house, keep a man happy, and pursue my dreams – all without chipping a nail. Anything less was failure. Even though I ended my relationship with the ex-military man, I hung on to the shameful belief that I wasn’t “enough” for a long time. I’ve even carried judgmental and jealous feelings towards others that hired help for themselves. I know better now: these distorted beliefs are false and toxic. No one should feel that asking for help from a friend or a professional is anything other than a wise choice.
One sure fire habit to develop that will boost overall happiness is the act of connecting and spreading love. Give someone a hug or let someone hug you. Pick up the phone and tell someone that you appreciate them, or simply listen to what someone has to say. You’ll be surprised and just how satisfying it will be to take an interest in someone else’s life.
Self-help advice tends to reflect the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawns it. A decade ago, the reigning champion of the genre was “The Secret,” published in 2006 by an Australian, Rhonda Byrne. Like Norman Vincent Peale before her, Byrne combined a literal interpretation of select verses from the Christian Bible—notably Matthew 21:22, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, ye shall receive”—with the acquisitive gospel of positive thinking. If you sent a wish out into the universe with enough faith, she told her readers, it could come to pass. Want to find a husband? Clean out a closet for the man of your dreams and imagine him hanging up his ties. Want to get rid of your glasses? Picture yourself acing your next vision exam and kiss those progressive lenses goodbye. In retrospect, “The Secret,” which sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, seems a testament to the predatory optimism that characterized the years leading up to the financial crisis. People dreamed big, and, in a day of easy money, found that their dreams could come true. Then the global economy crashed, and we were shaken violently awake—at least for a time.
Fasting indeed has a long-standing spiritual tradition. "Almost every religion has some type of fasting ritual -- Lent, Ramadan, Yom Kippur ... the Hindus and Buddhists fast, too," says James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He's author of Alternative Medicinefor Dummies.
Look at your career: Take a look at how you feel about your job and career. Stack your job tasks up against your short- and long-term goals and evaluate how you feel when you go to work each day. If you're not where you want to be in your career, don't let the fear of failure paralyze you. Instead, take action: Sign up for online courses, join a professional organization or seek mentorship.
It’s not difficult to overcome some of our natural tendencies to slip into a state of marginal depression. Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. But, oftentimes, the quality of our lives has more to do with the foundational habits that we routinely run on a daily basis. By improving our habits, we can improve the quality of our lives on multiple spectrums.
This is the one cleanse I can get behind! You’ve probably seen news reports that social media can heighten feelings of isolation and anxiety, but it can also increase feelings of body dissatisfaction. If certain accounts make you feel down about your body, your weight or the way you eat, it might be worth using the handy “unfollow” tool. Ditto for any accounts that recommend overly restrictive eating behaviors. There are healthy ways to lose weight that honor and respect your body so rid yourself of all the social noise that might be toxic to your overall wellbeing.
Quality of life, as defined here, is the sum total of your health, happiness, vitality, leisure, and income. This formulaic approach helps to paint a better picture of the overall quality that people are subjected to. Yet, many people simply define their quality of life by the amount of money they have. And, while money is a good barometer, it isn’t the full equation.
Similarly, podcasts are a great on-the-go news source. And a lot of the time they’re just what you need to unwind without completely wasting away in front of the TV (not that I have anything against relaxing that way). I’m a big fan of tackling one podcast during my commute—half of it on the way to work, half on the way back, and the stories always bring out some real emotions. (For reference, my favorites are This American Life and You’re the Expert.)