Why is it so hard for us to do the things we know are beneficial to our health and happiness? We can all relate to knowing we should go to the gym, but not. Knowing we should eat healthy, but not. Knowing we should watch less T.V., but not. Knowing we should go to bed early, but not. In the Charaka Samhita (an ancient Indian text) this is referred to as prajnaparadha, which translates as crimes against wisdom. We know in our heart what is best for us, but we haven't developed the skill to actually listen and follow our inner knowing. We may be looking around at our life and thinking of all of the things we want to change, but continuing to stay the same. We can't expect to just wake up one day and have suddenly developed a healthy lifestyle. We aren't all waking up at five in the morning, doing our morning meditation and yoga asana, followed by drinking a green smoothie while reading our positive quote of the day. We aren't all Instagram famous, traveling around the world to exotic and beautiful places with few responsibilities other than taking amazing pictures and posting them on social media. If you are, that's great! Keep doing what you're doing. But I think it's safe to say that for most people we are living complicated lives with many afflicting emotions and circumstances. We don't always have the best eating habits or work out routines; we can't afford to travel to all of the places we want to, let alone get paid for it! We look at our lives and we feel it is actually impossible to have even a glimpse of that type of life. We want it, but how could we possibly begin to get there?
I believe there are three important factors involved in making real change in our lives.
1. Start with small steps.
Small steps really do make a difference. Soon you start taking bigger steps that turn into leaps and one day you look back at your life just a year ago and notice that where you're standing today is so much closer to where you want to be than when you were sitting on the couch dreading all of the things you needed to do differently. If you look at every little thing you need to change in your life it is too overwhelming; instead you give up because it seems too difficult. Everything else is looming over you, weighing you down to the point of becoming incapable of moving. If you choose just one small thing to change and spend a week implementing that routine slowly, eventually it will become a habit. Start small. You want to exercise more? Start with putting on your work out clothes and stretching for fifteen minutes a day. You want to eat healthier? Start with one healthy meal a day. You want to watch less T.V.? Watch one less episode of that show you're binge watching.
2. Pay a little bit more attention to that voice in your heart.
It is so easy to ignore it and to listen to the bombardment of our senses instead, "but I don't want to eat salad I want a slice of pizza," "but watching Netflix sounds so much more enjoyable than working out," "but I don't want to meditate I want to go out and drink with my friends," blah blah blah. It's really easy to do; it's our autopilot mode. But, the more you listen to that inner voice, the voice that whispers for you to sit outside and look at the night sky, the voice that begs for you to move your body, the voice that longs for honest connections with others; the stronger that voice becomes and the easier it is to pass up your old routines. Not only that, but the more you develop that relationship with the whispers of your heart, the louder it will be in all aspects of your life. Your inner knowing turns into your compass and shows you the way to fulfillment. You know what's best for you better than anyone else and the more faith you put into yourself the more it is reflected in your life. Never doubt the call of your heart.
3. Be kind to yourself.
We are all doing the best we can. Quit judging and give yourself a break. It's okay to eat pizza, it's okay to watch Netflix, it's okay to have a drink. But it is important to look at your reasoning behind each action. Are you watching Netflix because you're avoiding something else? Are you drinking alcohol as a clutch to release your stress or as a way to cope? If so, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that your heart just wants to be heard, you just want to be loved. And love yourself. Take a bubble bath with yummy essential oils as a way to wind down instead of reaching for alcohol. Turn off the T.V. and look inside, listen to what wants to be heard. Start to develop a relationship with yourself. Take responsibility for your well-being and your happiness. You deserve to live the life of your dreams, the life your heart is longing for. Love yourself enough to make it happen.