Last year, one of my goals was to live by a mantra: do good, feel good. As you know, I eventually changed it to do better, feel better, which was intended to be a new mindset for improving my physical health, as I got back into a regular workout routine. I ended up carrying those four words with me wherever I went, though, and they will likely stay with me this year too; that’s because they serve as a reminder to make small, continual improvements in order to become a better person.
One of the biggest lessons for me last year was that you cannot do better or feel better or become a better person without first being better to yourself. Here’s where I started and where you can too:
- Be Positive – Whether you’re feeling down, stressed, hurt or mad, try to find one positive for every negative. I’ve certainly been known to have Negative Nancy moments fueled with frustations (and too many swear words), but I take a lot of inspiration from a few friends and try to channel their positivity into every tough situation. The added bonus: positivity breeds positivity.
- Be Kind – When your inner demons (we all have them) tell you you’re not good enough for this, that or the other reason, give yourself a compliment. Remind yourself that you love your eyes or are proud of a project you completed or made an amazing dinner last night or knocked a huge goal off your to-do list. The demons can’t control you, if you’re your own guardian angel.
- Forgive Your Mistakes – Shame is one of the most dangerous emotions we can hold onto – and sometimes we don’t even know it’s there. I know deep down that I still carry a lot of shame about things I’ve done in the past, but I am continually trying to shed the weight of it. The next time you feel it creep up, embrace one bad memory, forgive yourself and let it go. You’ll be stronger for it.
- Push Yourself – How many times have you set a goal for yourself, then talked yourself out of it? Think about all the times you’ve procrastinated work or not cleaned your house or skipped the gym. This is one of the toughest bad habits to break, but is the most important to work on. The person who cares most about you achieving your goals is you, so push yourself to take action.
Eventually, these simple actions turned into my being better to other people. I found I started to smile wider, open more doors, give genuine thanks, be more present and open to new experiences, express how I felt, give huge/loving hugs and make sure people knew I was thinking about them. As a result, my existing relationships grew stronger, I made new friends, I started dating again and I made a ton of networking connections.
…and all of these positive side effects came at a cost of exactly $0.
Money can’t buy these kinds of results. It can buy new clothes and new shoes, which might make you look better. But it can’t buy you family and friends who love you and arm you with true strength. It can pay for dinner or drinks, which might make you have a better weekend. But it can’t pay for the smile you get from a stranger when you do something nice.
Do better, feel better worked. The shopping ban helped. Paired together, I feel like a new person. I’m not usually a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but if you’re still looking for one to make, consider adopting the mantra and start by being better to yourself. The rest will follow. (And holy heck, am I excited to see how good I feel when I cross the shopping ban finish line in another 6 months.)
What are some other free ways we can better ourselves and our lives?