We must become the change we want to see. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Most people are not happy with their life. Yet they continually venture down the same road of unhappiness. Never willing to change.
Following a path of personal development isn’t easy. Oh, it’s rewarding and can be life changing but it can also be confusing, challenging, and scary.
What if you take the wrong path? How do you know which piece of advice is right? Can you still get the results you desperately want, even if you go against some of the assumed wisdom? One such piece of wisdom is that people should make changes in their lives and their behavior for themselves, not for others.
But what if you don’t feel ready, worthy, or capable of making the change for yourself? What if you feel so confused and scared that you don’t know where to start?
Like many people I struggled with loving myself enough to take those initial steps towards finding a way out of my own fear and guilt. I struggled with feeling like I was wrong, deficient, and “not good enough” for a long time. To my mind, it wasn’t a condition I experienced; it was part of who I fundamentally was: a person on a treadmill of life.
I’ve realised that sometimes the love we have for other people, particularly for our children, can give us the motivation to start on the journey—even when we are lacking the love to do it for ourselves.
So I decided to make the change. And then, everything changed.
I know I’ve moved from a place of great darkness to huge possibility and light. I am grateful beyond words to my son, for showing me what love really is; for showing me that I was capable of giving such love and worthy of receiving it. He unlocked the door for me to start really loving myself.
What started out as something I did for someone else, turned out to be the most loving thing I’ve ever done—for both of us.
Change is also a part of human nature. In fact, I believe there is an unwritten rule of life stating that the only constant is change. Put in other words, nothing will ever stay the same. This is a huge concept. The reason this is significant for you? Your life is going to change. But it is completely up to you which direction you will take your life when these inevitable changes approach. Will you choose to stay on your current melancholy life direction? Or will you rise up and pursue a life of fulfilment and happiness? The ball is in your court.
Below are the specific steps every person needs to explore, embrace and ultimately take action on before life-altering change can truly occur:
- Do things for others
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them; it’s good for us too. It makes us happier and can help to improve our health. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. It’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good.
- Take care of your body
Our body and mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as healthier. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of depression. We don’t all have to run marathons – there are simple things we can do to be more active each day. Regular exercise can lift you out of depression, but even if you’re healthy a burst of activity will boost your mood.
- Keep learning
Learning affects our wellbeing in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.
- Have goals to look forward to
Feeling good about the future is really important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these have to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible, this creates unnecessary stress. Choosing meaningful but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.
- Take a positive approach
Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration and pride – don’t just feel good when we experience them. They also help us perform better, broaden our perception, increase our resilience and improve our physical health. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.
- Be comfortable with who you are
Nobody’s perfect. But so often we compare a negative view of ourselves with an unrealistic view of other people. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy.
- Be part of something bigger
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find meaning and purpose? It might come from doing a job that makes a difference, our religious or spiritual beliefs, or our family. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Changing your life is possible. It doesn’t really matter who you’re starting out on this journey for—just start it. If you do it with a desire to learn, to grow and heal, and feel happier, you will get there.
Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself or investing in things that will help you to get there.
When you feel better, and kinder to yourself, and no longer spend hours a day wrestling with your own demons, you free up so much time, energy, and love to give back to those around you.