Growing up, I had a coach who would always say, “Today is a great day to excel.” It’s something that’s stuck with me throughout my life: the knowledge that every day you’re given a chance to improve on the person you were the day before.
It’s also a great reminder that you’ll never get this exact moment back, so you should use every second to your advantage. Knowing this, it’s important to practice mindfulness every day, and to get into the habit of continuously improving your life in some way or another.
You can make the most of each day by:
1. Asking questions and following up on them
As kids, we harbor a natural curiosity about the world around us. We probably drove our parents nuts asking so many questions, but it was because we genuinely had to know why the sky is blue, or why dogs bark and cats meow. As we grow older, we get busy living life and, unfortunately, lose interest in discovering information about our world.
We should keep our imagination alive by actively asking questions and seeking out the answers on a daily basis. Keep a journal throughout the day of ideas that pop into your head that you don’t have time to think about at work.
Instead of lazing around on the couch for an hour when you get home, use this time to find the answers to the questions you had throughout the day. Even if the knowledge you gain isn’t directly applicable to your job, digging deeper into a seemingly minuscule interest could lead to the discovery of a life-long hobby.
2. Reading something new
Because of smartphones, we literally have the ability to read every piece of literature that has ever been penned by man in the palm of our hands. Don’t spend all day scrolling through Facebook for cat pictures.
Check out apps like Flipboard and Longform, which collect stories from around the globe that you can tailor to your interests. Don’t just read the same old news sites. Instead, read an opinion article that directly jibes with your own perspective.
Reading an article you disagree with can potentially expand your mind, and help you come to a realization that changes your life. Even spending time reading for pleasure will keep your mind active and moving forward.
3. Sharing new knowledge
Learning something new is important, but sharing that knowledge makes what you’ve learned actionable and meaningful. Just like we have the ability to take in knowledge easily through the use of smart phones and the Internet, we also have the ability to share this information with our friends, family, and even complete strangers around the globe.
Use your Facebook page to share the interesting story you just read, or use an interesting photo gallery as a springboard to a fictional piece of literature. If you find something that interests you, share it with the world.
You might end up establishing new connections that could last a lifetime.
4. Applying new knowledge
There really is no point in learning something if it doesn’t inspire you to improve. Think of reading an advice column: If you don’t actually take the advice, you really just wasted the time it took to read the article in the first place.
If you take the time to learn something, you should take the extra step to learn how to use that information. If you play guitar and read an article about music theory, pick up your guitar and put your new-found knowledge into practice.
You never know when you’re headed toward a breakthrough unless you take action to get there. Before you set out to read or learn to do something, ask yourself: How will I use this new knowledge?
Once you have a goal for learning, you’ll be much more motivated to learn in the first place.
5. Seeking out interesting people
Social media sites like Twitter have made communicating with interesting people incredibly easy. If you’ve ever spent time watching videos on TED, you know there are people out there who have incredible ideas and visions for our world.
These people are, well, people just like you. Reach out to the people who have inspired you.
They might be busy and may or may not respond, but if they do it could lead to a mind-expanding dialogue with limitless possibilities.
6. Doing something that scares you
When I started writing for all the Internet to see a few months ago, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be good enough, or my ideas would come off as pedantic and idiotic. After penning about 40 articles for Lifehack, I’ve become absolutely overwhelmed by the positive responses many of them have received.
If you’ve just learned a new song on guitar, play it for a group of friends. Then play it for a group of your peers. Then play it in front of a crowd. As you push the boundaries of your comfort zone, you’ll find it expanding each time you stretch it.
Learn to be okay with being nervous and afraid; if everything was easy to do, nothing would be worth the effort.
7. Eating healthy
In school, our teachers would always advise us to eat well the night before and morning of a big test. They wanted to make sure you were fresh and had the stamina needed to work for hours on end without a break.
Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will keep you energized and willing to go the extra mile in everything you do. If you feel like garbage, you’re not going to want to push yourself to excel.
To keep things interesting, you can always find healthy eating recipes on Pinterest. Make sure your diet is full of fruits, vegetables and various proteins so you can hit the ground running each and every day.
8. Playing games instead of watching TV
Doing crossword puzzles, playing video games, or even watching Jeopardy is much more beneficial than vegging out and watching reruns of your favorite sitcom. Your mind should always be working, even during leisure activities.
Working on puzzles or playing games increases your logical thought and problem solving processes, which can positively affect all other aspects of your life.
Even time honored games like Tetris prove to be both fun and beneficial to your brain. And, even though your brain is working throughout these activities, you’ll be relieving the stress that your mind accumulated throughout the workday.
Along with eating healthy, keeping your body healthy is of utmost importance if you want to improve your overall well-being. Again, you won’t really be apt to push yourself mentally if your body is physically sore.
Take the time to get up and move, even if you only have a short period of time each day to do it in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park at the end of the parking lot at work.
As with everything else, you need to make every second of your day count in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
10. Setting aside quiet time
Your brain, and your body, need time to recharge every day. Of course, you should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but in addition to that, you should spend some time to yourself, with no external stimuli around to bother you.
Take 10 minutes before bed or after waking up to meditate and let your mind relax. Try not to think of any of the stressful situations in your life, and just be.
And you don’t have to be a seasoned meditation expert, either. Psychology Today makes it clear that meditation really is for everyone.
Doing this before bed will make falling asleep much easier, and doing it in the morning will allow you to face the day without anxiety. And, if you can get some quiet time in during your lunch break, you’ll be energized and ready to work when everyone else has hit the two o’clock slump.
Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm5.staticflickr.com