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Stop Existing and Start Living: How to Dramatically Change Your Life in Just One Week

Stop Existing and Start Living: How to Dramatically Change Your Life in Just One Week


    Okay, so your cubicle is boring, you haven’t had a good date in what seems like decades and every day is the “same old, same old” with nothing happening to make you feel revved up and excited.

    Clearly, that’s no way to live.

    But the key to getting the life you want is to make changes in your routine and kick it in the a** a little bit, so our days aren’t spent like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” — experiencing the same thing over and over again, day after excruciating day.

    In less time than it took Murray to learn the life lessons of “Groundhog Day,” you can do the same, starting the ball rolling on a new, improved life that looks much brighter…no matter what challenges you might be facing.

    Erase negativity

    First of all, let’s admit that it’s finally time for that voice in your head to shut the hell up.

    Sure, it’s been through a lot of stuff. And of course, it remembers every single disappointment and failure. But it can’t see the future, so you can’t let it play a part in how you perceive what’s to come.

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    When the voice says, “No, I can’t,” unleash your inner actor and find a way to tell that voice “Yes, you can”. After all those years of thinking you’re not good enough, it’s time to stop. Build your confidence slowly. Set small goals and take on tiny challenges that allow you to build the confidence it takes to tackle the monster ones.

    Negativity harms you and keeps you from really living life. It doesn’t matter whether someone dealt with you unfairly or not. Harping on injustice (outside a brief period of venting) destroys your life and erodes precious time you could use to really start living. It’s best to decide or plan how to remedy the problem at the root of your negativity — and then take action to remedy it. Whatever you do, don’t stay in a negative or gloomy funk for long. Just start living.

    Take stock of the good things and be grateful

    You might not have the most challenging job, but in a troubled economy you do have a job — so that’s a blessing worth counting. And even though your romantic life might be as exciting as a trip to the dentist without Novocaine, remember that the good friends and great family you do have are special gifts, and their love will help see you through hard times.

    One of the best ways to take stock of what you do have is to start a gratitude journal. Every morning write exactly what you are thankful for on a daily basis. Then at night, write about what went well in the day. Focus on the positive and you will attract more of it.

    Recognize where you are lucky and you will create a sense of optimism that will spread into all other areas of your life.

    Most people have heard the expression “taken for granted”. Too often we take so many blessings in our lives for granted. We fail to take stock of the many good things. Instead we focus on the handful of items that are unpleasant or despicable. If you take a few minutes to make a list of the positives in your life, you’ll soon see that:

    • the negatives are greatly outweighed by the positives and;
    • you have so much to work with and live for.

    Take stock, be grateful, and start living.

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    Discover your purpose

    Whether we believe it or not, we all were put on this earth for a reason. Finding yours will be one of the first steps toward making big changes in your life.

    Think about the things you’re good at, the things that you feel passionate about, the things that you enjoy most and get the most satisfaction from doing. These things might be key to what will make you happy and give you a life that feels fulfilling.

    Say you love nothing more than riding your bike. You might not have the training under your belt to become a professional rider — but you could work in a bike shop, sharing your passion for the sport with other riders. If you love to read, find a way to surround yourself with books. If you always wanted to be a firefighter but thought it was impossible, sign up for a First Responder class and get started.

    Call to Action: What is one thing you can do right now that will have the most positive impact. What can you stop doing right now that has the most negative impact. Now go and do it!

    Finding a way to make our work feel like play is essential to true daily happiness. Discovering your purpose will make sure your life is on the right track and you’re headed in the direction of your own choosing. You’ll begin seeing the excellent opportunities in your present work — or you’ll start enjoying a type of vocation or work that’s more purposeful to you. Living your life according to your purpose makes for a very enjoyable life.

    One step at a time

    But remember that taking action is the vital key to the equation.

    If you dream of something bigger, it’s not likely it will come to you. You will have to go out and get it. It takes hard work.

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    And even if you do make that move, it might take time and lots of patience to reap the rewards of your initial act of bravery. Jenna Fischer, who plays “girl next door” Pam on “The Office,” made the trip from Missouri to Los Angeles expecting a great job within a year. The truth is, it took much longer for her to capture the attention of her new bosses at “The Office”, a high-profile gig that ultimately led to movie roles and producing. But she was patient…and her rewards finally came.

    Remember, if you’ve taken that first critical step, you’ve already done the hardest part. Don’t become overwhelmed by everything that has to be done. Just take one step at a time. With consistency, moving one step at a time will cause you to live and achieve the life of your dreams.

    Find your Zen

    To live a peaceful, happy life – and I mean truly live it – sometimes you have to do things that are totally against your nature.

    That means if you’re carrying around grudges that are filling you with anger, it’s time to let go and forgive those who have wronged you. The negativity harms no one but yourself, and letting go will be sweet freedom from pain that’s simply unnecessary.

    So how, than, do we forgive someone who damaged us and our lives?

    • Get away from the problem. While it might seem like running away, if you can move somewhere where troubled memories don’t follow you wherever you go, you open the door to a new mindset, and that, coupled with a new environment, can lead to better things that can turn a negative into a positive.
    • Get spiritual. While some are best served by attending church to find their introspective side, others can head out into the woods and find a sense of peace that is a good move toward thinking that isn’t done in anger, regret, or despair. Practice meditation. Personally, it has done wonders for me.
    • Use your bad experiences to help others. Share your story to prevent other people from making the same mistakes.

    Surprise yourself

    One of the best ways to jolt yourself out of a disappointing life is to do something completely different.

    Even if you think you might be terrible at it, give something new a try.

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    Whether it’s signing up for a ballroom dancing class or trying kick boxing, horseback riding, singing lessons or gymnastics, doing new things challenges us mentally and physically, and sparks a new interest in living by giving us a new reason to get up in the morning to a day that’s fresh and full of possibilities.

    Many people are afraid of trying anything new. Others feel as if there’s nothing new worth trying. And then there’s a whole different group of folks who say they “hate surprises.” What they’re all saying is they hate change and prefer structure. Structure is good; however, most people would be pleasantly amazed at how trying something new will add a real spark to their lives. Try something new, surprise yourself, and start living.

    Revisit that Bucket List…or rather, that LIVING List

    If you have a list of things you want to do before you die, don’t sit around waiting for a reason to do them. Try to find one thing on that list that you can accomplish if not today, then tomorrow.

    Order the classic movie you know you need to see on DVD, and start looking online for car rentals if you’ve always wanted to drive a Mercedes or Rolls Royce.

    If your list includes an exotic adventure, but you’ve been waiting around to become part of a couple before you take that tropical vacay because you don’t want to travel alone, rethink the plan. Maybe you have a good friend who’s been feeling the same way. And who knows? The love of your life could be planning the same vacation right now, and will be sitting on the same beach when you arrive. The thing is, you’ll never know unless you go.

    The best way to make life worth living is to find ways to ensure that you really are living. And making every moment that we live and breathe count – appreciating that we are indeed living and breathing — it the best first step.

    What can you do everyday that would make it impossible for you to have a bad day? Now go and start doing that….today.

    (Photo credit: Be Free via Shutterstock)

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    Justin Miller

    Healthy Lifestyle Architect

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    How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

    1. The Inner Critic

    This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

    He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

    Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

    2. The Worrier

    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

    He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

    Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

    He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

    He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

    He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

    4. The Sleep Depriver

    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

    His motivation can be:

    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

    How can you control these squatters?

    How to Master Your Mind

    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

    For the Inner Critic

    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

    • He riles up the Worrier.
    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
    • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
    • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
    • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

    Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

    For the Worrier

    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tense

    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

    For example:

    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tension

    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

    Breathe in through your nose:

    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
    • Focus on your belly rising.

    Breathe out through your nose:

    • Feel your lungs emptying.
    • Focus on your belly falling.
    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

    For the Sleep Depriver

    (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
    • Shut down your thinking.
    • Calm your feelings.
    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

    Becoming the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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