Cultivating a healthy life
With so much distracting us from our health conscious lifestyles these days, it is easy to let our wellbeing go by the wayside. We are realizing that our basic needs are dramatically different than they were a year ago. It is challenging to even step back enough from our day-to-day lives to make basic choices. Many of us are just mindlessly surviving. Leaving the house for work requires a game plan that includes masks for the entire family, hand sanitizer and a healthy dose of patience and courage. Even so, we are still able to process all that is happening and solve life’s challenges in positive ways. Given the changing needs of individuals, families and communities in the time of a pandemic, how do we define the new normal? How do we place our health, wellbeing and healing first? We should probably start with a definition of a healthy lifestyle and then make a plan to build on that lifestyle through our daily focus and habits. Cultivating an inspired, healthy life is where I start.
Health and Wellbeing
Knowing that we need and want to take care of ourselves, how do we sift through the noise, and rediscover healthy practices that support and nurture our mind, body and soul? The key is to re-establish the former places in our daily lives where growth used to happen. Plant seeds daily that grow our passions and support our best selves, leaving the frustrations of our new normal behind. Establish where the good stuff lives. Narrow our mindset to the favorable and inspirational and limit the aggravating. For me, it is taking time for what makes me feel whole. Creating art, practicing yoga, journaling, getting outside, and spending time with friends and family is where I concentrate my efforts. Pick your areas, and nurture more of that! Don’t know how? Aren’t sure where to start? How do you make a conscious effort to cultivate an inspired life? Read more for some great suggestions from me, and a few of my favorite bloggers.
In recent years, we have begun to understand more and more about why a concentrated effort to support health and healing are synonymous with a happy life. Even when faced with the most difficult struggles, we must strive to maintain a positive and productive attitude. Yet where does the focus, determination, motivation and courage come from to make healthy choices? How do we learn to draw on that deep place in our souls that provides these avenues toward growth?
For me, it continues to be a combination of creative endeavors, journaling, practicing yoga and mindfulness and nurturing a genuine attempt at a growth mindset. In her book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dwerk describes “people with a growth mindset feel their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in others’ success.”
According to many experts, this sort of healthy lifestyle is only achieved through a conscious effort at maintaining that healthy mindset. When we do so, we give ourselves the best chance to survive the journey we are on and thrive in the aftermath. What daily habits can we practice that support a healthier mindset and quit sabotaging ourselves? In 5 Daily Habits for a Healthy Mindset, and also in 5 Key Elements of a Healthy Mindset, Catherine Beard suggests on her blog, The Blissful Mind that journaling, goal setting, scheduling, checking in, and limiting social media time are great places to begin. Cultivating an inspired life means focusing on the positives but also letting go of what no longer serves us. By making room for healthy habits and letting go of unhealthy patterns that aren’t necessarily good for our wellbeing, we begin to hone in on what we need – a healthier mindset.
Survival or growth?
Many of us start our days in survival mode. By placing a greater focus on individual wellness, instead of simple survival, we begin to see beyond our struggles and make a healthier mindset a possibility. Growth, however, can only be achieved after our basic needs have been met and we are able to examine the next level of needs. Nurturing mindfulness, exercising our bodies – maybe in new or adjusted ways, and cultivating a place of understanding, kindness and grace for ourselves (and the world) is growth. Practicing yoga and participating in new physical exercise in general are great places to start – even online! Eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest is important too. But we also need to wrestle the challenging thoughts, feelings and musings to see progress. Nothing wrong with that therapy session or 10 minutes of meditation to get us back on track. Nurturing ourselves with activities that inspire us to grow, instead of beating us down is a choice. At the end of each week, we need to have experienced more inspiration and passion to balance all the chaos.
The growth mindset provides this important healing direction for our struggling minds, our tired bodies and our challenged souls. When we look beyond simple survival, not asking more of ourselves, but asking ourselves, “what do I need?,” then progress is easier and more productive. Soon survival gives way to growth in the most natural sense.
Having a growth mindset (the belief that you are in control of your own ability, and can learn and improve) has long been considered to be one of the keys to success in life. One of my favorite bloggers, Maria Popova with Brainpickings, shared in her post, Fixed vs. Growth that a fixed mindset honors hard work, effort, and persistence as important, but a growth mindset also adds an underlying belief that you are in control of your own destiny and responsible for your own health and happiness. That is the game changer! Taking responsibility for ourselves goes beyond accountability, it takes our very humanity into consideration. A growth mindset calls on us to be open to grace, cultivate new ideas and nurture an attitude that supports lifelong learning. This form of growth honors what we have already accomplished and supports the next stage of our development as a human being.
When you get up tomorrow, look in the mirror and ask yourself what you want out of life. Pour that cup of coffee, even if it’s “to-go”, and ask yourself “what do I need from life today?” Take a breath before yoga class or that HIIT workout and honor that muse within. Don’t settle for less, the status quo, or the usual. The idea that our current set of circumstances is forever just isn’t true. No matter how hard it is to believe, even in these challenging times, things can and will change. No matter how hard it gets, don’t allow yourself to give up or give in. There is always more. But you have to be open to the possibilities to get past survival to grow.