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20 Small Habits To Build To Become Mentally Stronger This Year

20 Small Habits To Build To Become Mentally Stronger This Year

Everyone wants to start out 2016 strong, but it’s finishing strong that’s also important. Many resolutions and goals are never reached because we get caught up in what’s happening in our life, and because we haven’t developed the mental strength to keep ourselves going when the momentum from the New Year wears off.

However, a lot of getting yourself to your goals and surpassing them is about being mentally strong for when those hard moments hits. Discipline is developed, so it will power the continual ability to make great choices toward what you want. Remember, not to sacrifice what you really want for some pleasure now.

However, being mentally stronger doesn’t mean it has to be a tough grind, here are a few tips and tricks which can help you. Just like if you want to be stronger physically you have to do exercises to keep the muscles strong, do build mental strength you have to do exercises to help build those habits and beliefs.

One of the best ways to build mental strength is to find habits and small tips throughout the day to keep your energy high, mind-set positive, and help develop habits and skills which will help move you forward and keep you feeling good about what you’re doing. Meanwhile, you’re building mental strength in a way which won’t leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Set yourself up for a mentally stronger and happier 2016 by applying a few of these tips.

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1. Make your bed

You’re already accomplishing things and getting off to a great start when you make your bed first thing in the morning.  Remember the saying, “The state of your bed is the state of your head?” There is plenty of truth to it. While it may seem like a small step, it has huge benefits. Research shows people who make their beds daily are overall happier with their lives, more productive, and have a stronger sense of pride and accomplishment in their day for all the tasks they do. This one little thing gets you in the habit of finishing projects right away in the morning. One task down before you’ve even brushed your teeth, what a great feeling!

2. Say nice things to yourself daily

This year, make a commitment to cut down on the negative self-talk and pump up the nice things you say to yourself. You may feel ridiculous at first as you become your own cheerleader in your head, but think about how great you’ll feel as you make stronger and stronger decisions about your life. Those same decisions are what will keep you moving toward your goal. Be mindful, negative thoughts can sneak their way in really quickly, when you catch them, just recognize them as untrue (even if you have to say it out loud) and replace them with a positive thought.

3. Write down something great about each day

You can keep it in a jar, a journal, a shoe box, or wherever you want, but write down something great about each day. Not only does this help create gratitude in your life, but at the end of the year you’ll be able to sit down and look back at the positive things you experience and accomplished, instead of the challenges or rough patches which made you want to give up.

4. Write down the positive aspects of every challenge

Life is a lot about perspective. Change your perspective and you can change your life. Instead of griping and being angry or disappointed (indulging in negative self-talk) concerning any challenges which may come up, build up your positive mental strength by writing down positive aspects and things you could be learning from the challenges. See if you can’t find something to be grateful about every day.

5. Practice mindful happiness while commuting

Mindfulness is about being in the moment. To get comfortable with being happy, practicing being mindfully happy. Take an event or moment or memory when you are feeling good and let yourself indulge in the feeling. Look at how it sits in your body. How your thoughts change. How your body changes. What it feels like. If there are any colors which it may feel like. Spend some time with your happy mood. At the end of it, notice the feeling of happiness and joy, it comes from you, and it spontaneously shows up when you are in mindfully in the moment.

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6. Practice being your own best friend daily

This is a great way to become mentally stronger, because it teaches us to rely on ourselves, and not need others to pick us up, because we can do it ourselves. Next time something isn’t going quite as planned, or you start to insult or criticize yourself, pause and ask, “Would I let my best friend treat me this way?” or “Would I treat my best friend this way?” The answer is probably no, and it’s a great idea to love yourself as much, if not more, than you love your best friend.

7. Practice saying “no” without explanation

As a society we’ve decided somewhere along the lines we have to have a reason for saying no, and not wanting to do something isn’t a good enough reason. If you find yourself in that’s line of thinking, then throw it out. Learn to say no. You don’t have to explain your actions or validate your decisions to anyone about why you don’t want to do something.

8. Practice 20 minutes of self-care daily

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, but if you don’t take some time to really deeply care for yourself, you’ll eventually run your well dry and not be able to love and care for those around you. Self-care can be something as complex as having a manicure or spa day, or as simple as locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes just to have some alone time. It doesn’t matter what it is, make sure you create some space and/or activities which leave you feeling full and happy.

9. Do a hobby or activity daily which brings you joy

This is a great form of self-care. This year see if you can’t find a hobby or activity which you enjoy just because it makes you feel better. As you become more confident and competent at it, you’ll discover how confidence and self-belief will pool over into other areas of your life. The positive talk you use and the joy you find in your hobby will help make you mentally stronger as you tackle the harder aspects of your chosen goal.

10. Set a goal to practice more gratitude and less complaining

Getting caught up in the cycle of complaining can make you hard to be around, but it also can take quite a toll on your mental health. Instead of just endless complaining about a situation, try and find something to be grateful about.

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11. Set a goal for at least 8 hours of sleep a night

This is huge! You’ve seen small children lose their mind when they are too tired, adults are the same way, only we don’t usually end up eventually passed out in the middle of our dinner plate. When you’re too tired you make poor decisions, your mental strength goes down, your rational mind turns into a 6-year-old’s, and your body responds by upping stress hormones. Make sleep a priority this year to help you stay mentally strong. A minimum of eight hours is essential, if you’re any type of athlete, more is important. If you’re stressed make sure you are giving yourself sufficient time to rest and relax before going to sleep in order to allow your body to maximize the sleeping hours.

12. Set a goal to eat clean food daily

New research is showing the link between your gut health and your mood, and one of the things which directly relates to your gut health is the food you put in your body. By reducing inflammatory food such as any food allergies, grains, dairy, and alcohol you can reduce the stress on your digestive system. A healthier digestive system means less sick days, more energy, and can also improve symptoms of depressions and anxiety. Try to shop the outside edge of the grocery story and eat only food you make. Google clean eating recipes and experiment one or two nights a week.

13. Cut your social media time in half

We tend to put our best foot forward on social media, and this can end up with us trying to compare our lives to the highlights reel of another person’s life. Doing so can leave you feeling awful and discontent about where you are in life and the great things you’ve accomplished, it can also cause you to forget how many great lives you touch throughout the day by being the amazing person you are. Half you social media time and spend the time reconnecting with people you love, reading a book, or practicing the hobby you do or the joy of it. Whatever you decided to fill the time with, make sure it’s something which lifts you up.

14. Put up at least three inspirational/motivational quotes to read daily

When things get tough and you feel like you’re not making progress, uplifting words can go a long ways toward keeping you on track. Take the time to post a few inspiring and motivational quotes or pictures (maybe even a vision board) somewhere you’ll see it every day. Words of encouragement and motivation can go a long when you’re in a bad place.

15. Visualize your goals for 10 minutes daily

Take the time to visualize the end result of your goals, but also the challenges you’ll over-come in between. Practice visualizing how you’re going to problem solve possible things which could go wrong and coming out on top. See yourself where you want to be, and feel how great it feels to accomplish your goals.

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16. Let go of your people pleasing tendencies

In an effort to be a  good person we often over-extend ourselves and commit to things we really don’t want to do. Embrace the fact you can’t please everyone and let go of the need to let others’ happiness and goals overrule what’s best for you, your health, and your happiness.

17. Set a monthly budget which includes something fun

These don’t have to be big, but something fun. Maybe a shirt, a movie, or a new candle, a favorite bubble bath, or lotion. Something you don’t normally let yourself reach for, something which will make you smile and feel wonderful when you come into contact with it. Whether it’s lighting your new candle, soaking in a tub with your favorite bubble bath, let yourself enjoy a small splurge every month or few weeks.

18. Stop indulging in relationships or activities which drain you of energy.

Go where you’re celebrated. Do things which leave you feeling joyful. This year make yourself mentally stronger by building positive relationships and letting go of toxic ones. This doesn’t mean letting go of toxic relationships or places will be easy, it just means you’re going to make a commitment to being stronger. Without the mental and emotional drain you’ll find more energy and more happiness throughout your day.

19. Cut the word should from your vocabulary

Think about when the last time you thought you should do something. Wasn’t exactly a fun and exciting thought was it? Should usually comes with the feelings of obligation and heavy responsibility, and rarely a feeling of joy.  Should has a tendency to come with self-criticism and harsh judgement, neither of which support the foundation you’re building this year to become mentally stronger. Instead of using should, re-phrase your sentence into something you look forward to doing. I would like to be mentally stronger. I would like to be physically healthier.

20. Journal for three pages or five minutes morning and/or night

If you choose the time in the morning use it at a chance to write about your dreams, dump all your worries or concerns on the page, to creatively express anything which may have worried you the nigh before. It’s also a great way to write down your goals and inspirations for the day, get a feeling for what you want to see happen and an action plan. If choose to do the night use it to unwind about all the things which may have stressed you out, and to congratulate yourself on all the things you did right.

No matter what approach you take this year, remember with consistent, positive practice you can strengthen your mental muscles and over time you’ll become mentally stronger.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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