2020 was a very eye-opening year. I realized that I needed to make some serious changes in order to live a happier life that I wanted to live. Now, everything I'm about to list I've tried myself. I know there are always blogs that list ways to be happier that really are either not helpful in the here and now, or a little condescending.
Everything listed below are changes I've made in my own life. The majority of these are small changes you can start today, but there are a few that are a bit bigger changes. While they may take longer to accomplish, those are the ones that truly changed the way I live.
1. Sleep (I'm serious)
I struggle doing this as I run my own business and a farm, but seriously, a good night's sleep can make a world of difference. Just getting 7.5 to 8 hours a night can really change the way you start your day, setting a much better tone to accomplish your whole to-do list. Energy is important to accomplishment and feelings of joy.
2. Let Go Of Toxic Relationships
This is one of those bigger changes that'll take some more time, but will completely change your outlook on life. Through my entire life I've been a "yes" person, a people pleaser, and I never put myself first which really opened the door to a lot of manipulative and toxic friends to enter my life. This last year I removed the last toxic person in my life. That sense of peace and freedom is honestly a bit intoxicating, I never knew how important peace was to me. Finally putting myself first and refusing to be manipulated or walked on gave me a sense of power over my own life, and a huge relief to my mental health. Now I'm very picky to who comes in, because no one is going to mess with my inner peace again.
3. Get A Plant
Now I know there's some science behind this, but let's be honest this isn't one of those articles you read for the science. Keeping things simple, oxygen is the key to life. A lot of people don't have an acre of land to go stand in the middle of and take a deep breath of fresh air. However, one thing that really helped me during the pandemic was getting a plant. Indoor plants are generally a lot more forgiving than doing a full blown garden, and give you fresh oxygen. You also need to take care of them, which offers a routine. And when you see that first new leaf popping up, trust me it will make your whole day.
4. Coffee? Tea? Water? Whichever brings you joy
I know we all need to be drinking 8 glasses of water a day. That is a wonderful goal I've never been able to accomplish even when I was a full blown athlete. However, a cup of coffee always brings me joy. I'm definitely more of a coffee drinker but I do enjoy tea from time to time too. If iced coffee or a hot cup of tea brings you joy and makes the day a bit better, than take some time and really enjoy making that cup. We've got one life, so I'm going to enjoy my iced coffee. It's basically just flavored water anyway.
5. Go Outside
Going outside can really uplift a day. Seasonal depression is a real thing, and when we're inside for too long it can really effect us. Go out on your balcony, or go for a walk, or sit in a park and read a book rather than your couch. Absorbing vitamin D is essential for our body and can prevent any kinds of seasonal depression.
6. Choose To Forgive, For Your Own Sake
I've learned that forgiveness is the key to letting go. Now, I'm stubborn, and have been known to hold a grudge or two. However, holding on to those emotions hurt me more than the other person. I never forget what someone does, I just forgive so I can let go of those emotions and move on with my life. Forgive and Forget does not need to be a team, you can forgive and not forget.
7. Imposter Syndrome? Not Today
This is a real thing! As a business owner lots of us struggle with this. I've had several instances thinking my products weren't good enough compared to others. But you know what? There is only one you. There are billions of people, thousands of businesses and millions of ideas. But there is only one you. What you bring to the world is different because it's from you and no one else.
8. Get The Help You Need
It is never a bad thing to ask for help. Whether this is from family, or friends, or a professional. We are all in one big community, so it's important we all support each other. You are not wrong to ask for help, you deserve help.
9. Find Something To Be Grateful For Every Day
A lot of people do this while Journaling, I always include this in my prayers every night. It's always easy to focus on the negativity around you, but if you can find 1-2 things you can be grateful for and either write them down or say them aloud, it will begin to change your perspective on everything around you.
Like I mentioned above, you can journal many things. Journaling feelings and actions are a great way to get it out of your head and give you the opportunity to look at things objectively. I have several journals I use for writing ideas, writing feelings, and planning out my goals and steps to achieve those goals.
11. Do NOT Tolerate Drama
Seriously, this is a toxic rabbit hole you don't want to go down. I've been there and done that. Learning to set boundaries for myself and refusing to tolerate petty drama has helped me so much in the long run. This can tie in to number 2, letting go of toxic people, because usually all you have to do to remove them from your life is to stop tolerating their drama. I've found that once you stop taking on other people's problems and tolerating their drama, they will go find someone else to dump on. It will bring you so much peace in the long run.
12. Accept Your Body
We're thankfully entering into a very body positive time in our society. After quitting sports and becoming a baker my body has fluctuated a lot over the years. I've struggled to accept my adult body when I was so used to my teenage body that did sports for 3-4 hours a day. However, once I finally accepted that my body is what carries me and keeps me able to do the things I love, I began to accept every curve and every stretch mark. Your body keeps you alive, you can't read without your hands, it takes your whole body to garden or hike or paint. Your body is an amazing thing and tells the story of your life, so it's important to be kind to it.
13. It's Okay To Disappoint Others
As I said earlier, I used to be a huge people pleaser. I would take on five projects when I barely had time to sleep. No more. Disappointing others has nothing to do with you. If you can't drop everything to go help someone with a project they can't finish, they're poor planning does not equal your emergency. Learning this as a business owner has been essential. If helping others means putting yourself at the bottom of your priority list, it is time to say, "I'm sorry, I can't take on anymore projects. I wish you the best of luck." And that's okay.
14. Identify Your People
You may have a hundred friends and that's amazing! But how many of those people do you know deep down are your people? Making a big move from Oregon to Tennessee has made me aware of just who my people are. And making me more picky about who I allow in my circle as I meet new people in this new city.
15. Devote Time Daily To What Brings You Joy
Whether this is prayer, meditation, an hour of your favorite tv show, whatever it may be, devote some time every day to doing the things you love. We live in a world where we're constantly going and trying to accomplish a bunch of things. I know I'm always a culprit of this. It is important to take time and do the things that calm you, revitalize you, so that you can fight off burn-out.
16. Define Your Boundaries
It's important to have boundaries. I know, every people pleaser just cringed, at least I did every time someone told me to set my own boundaries. But seriously, figure out what's important to you and what line people can't cross.
17. "No" Is Okay
Honestly, this may be my favorite word now. I never used to say this before and felt rude or selfish whenever I did. Now? It may be one of my most used words. Saying no to things is 100% okay. Obviously be nice about it, but saying no is a perfectly acceptable answer.
18. Feelings Are Valid, But Not Facts
This was a hard one for me to work through, because I am such a stubborn person and I tend to feel things deeply. Before I say anything, your feelings have been and always will be completely valid. You have every right to feel the way you feel.
Feelings are not facts though. Learn to take a step back and look at situations objectively, often times (at least for me) you'll find things you missed. When you are deep in a situation, it's nearly impossible to look passed feelings. But seeing things objectively can help you either gain some peace or closure, or help you realize that hurt or anger you felt was completely valid and you need to remove yourself from the situation. Either way, it helps that inner peace you're searching for.
Now you'll never see me running, because I personally hate running. However, getting your body moving in any way can help relieve tension and stress from your body. For me, that's going out and working in the garden or with the farm animals, or yoga. It doesn't have to necessarily be a full weight lifting workout if that's not what you're into. But exercise does help a lot in helping us feel better.
20. Redefine Success For Yourself
This is where my life did a 180. I was originally in college to become a psychiatrist, when I was constantly stress baking and giving friends and family loaves of bread. No one ever told me that success didn't have to be a master's degree, high paying job, fancy house, etc. It wasn't until my family pulled me aside after baking 200 Christmas cookies (without being asked) and told me success is what I decide it is, that I realized I didn't want that life. I wanted the life where I bake cakes and cookies in my kitchen, grow all my own food, live sustainably on a farm in a little farmhouse with my cat and dog. Eventually a husband and kids to help with the farm chores.
Success is what you make it. This life is your life and no one else's. You do not need to prove yourself to society or your high school friends or anything like that. You decide what makes you successful.
21. One Change A Day
That's all it takes. No need to do a main character training montage in one day. Next year won't be any different if you don't do anything different right now. One small change a day is all it takes for you to look back next year and realize you turned your whole life around. A year goes by a lot faster than you think too. Consistency is the key.
22. Be Proud Of Yourself
Can we just take a moment, you've read this far down. I am so proud of you. No matter what is going on in your life. You deserve to be proud of yourself. The motto of my bakery is "celebrate the little things in life" because we simply don't do that enough. You woke up today. You got dressed, you made a meal, you got a new job, you accomplished something on your list, where ever you're at right now. Take a moment and just be proud of yourself. You deserve it.
23. Down Days Are Okay
I know, probably didn't expect to see this one. But down days are just as important as those super motivated days. We are human beings with complex emotions, what we are not are happy robots set to work all the time. If you have a headache and can't focus on work (like me while I was writing this) then take a nap or read or take a day to be down. We need to recharge, we are not energizer bunnies connected to recharging batteries.
24. Feel Good Playlist
Now when I was in some of my toughest moments I would see this in other people's lists and scoff. But one day I decided to give it a shot, and you know what? It works. I found some random happy upbeat playlist on Spotify that would upload new weekly songs and I would listen to it every morning and evening for months during the pandemic. Don't get me wrong I love a good heavy metal rock song, but something about happy music just soothes the soul a bit.
25. Facial Or Spa Day (At Home)
No need to get fancy. Sometimes the best thing we can do it light some candles, take a bath, do a facial, and read a book or watch a movie. Throw a bath bomb in or give yourself a pedicure. Make sure to treat yourself now and then.
26. Comparison Is A Lose-Lose Situation
Seriously. This is so easily to do for young adults. Half my friends from back home are married with kids. You know what I did? Took a hobby business I started in my apartment and moved across the country with my cat to a 100 year old farmhouse on an acre of land to build my farm-to-table dreams. No husband in sight, no kids, but I got a field of grass all my own to lay in and a home that is whatever I make it. Everyone has a completely different walk of life, different goals, and different values and motivations. Don't compare yourself because it's