Life is short. A year 365 days. And a day 24 hours. All of us want to experience a fulfilling, productive and enriching life filled with moments that satiate and nourish our body, mind, heart, and soul. As we approach the Resolution Season and reminisce, the simplest and best way to accomplish this journey is to take a few steps every day. And honestly, there is never a best time or a season to start. All we have is now, and today.
By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished, says Gretchen Rubin, author, and observer of human nature. We tend to over-estimate what we can do in a short time (say, an afternoon), and under-estimate what we can do over a longer time (a month) a little bit at a time, she says.
Many would find this an over-simplistic, slow, and boring approach but one can’t emphasise enough on the power of small habits performed every day. Of course, we all have our different versions of success and happiness but one thing is for sure. We can’t ignore the balance and harmony of coexistence of the physical, mental, creative, spiritual aspects of our lives. Especially in a world where increasing stress, pressures and anxieties have become a rule rather than the exception.
The Physical Steps: Our body is a shrine, a precious gift, the beginning, and end of our physical self which needs to be worshipped and cherished. While certain physical perils are beyond our control, it is certainly up to us to keep this gift, well-oiled, thriving and nurtured. So, healthy eating every day and exercising for a few minutes most of the days, checking for wear and tear, healing the physical wounds should be on our radar to enjoy this glorious apparatus bestowed on us. A 30-minute walk 6 days a week amounts to 780 minutes of exercise every month transforming into 9,360 minutes of exercise every year! And don’t ignore to devote a few minutes to nourish your body’s natural beauty depending on your preference, no matter how small. A massage today, a scrub tomorrow and steam will not only keep the body gleaming but also make you feel good.
The Mental Steps: Our mind is a safe, a repository of all our thoughts, actions, decisions, and well-being. Make sure that you keep it well-fed, remove the cobwebs and keep adding to the valuables. Spending time every day to enhance our knowledge, learn new things, adopt new habits and hobbies, extend our comfort zones and steer from the negative to positive – are all doable means through which we can fortify our mind. Reading for an hour for both pleasure and knowledge, practising mindfulness, learning a new skill, playing intellectually stimulating games like crossword, scrabble, chess, stimulating conversations are a few practical ways which accumulate to strengthen our mental ability to withstand stress, think positively and help us to relax.
The Creative Steps: We always admire creative people and their creations little realising that we too have a hidden creative self ourselves. It’s up to us to discover this self to nurture our artistic talents. We may not or need not be extraordinarily creative but fulfilling our modest creative instincts can be truly fulfilling and rewarding for our own selves. Spending a few hours every week writing, painting, sketching, singing, dancing, gardening, playing musical instruments, designing, sculpting, carving…or finding our own ways of creative expression and imagination can be extremely rewarding and therapeutic. Being creative in our everyday lives need not be grand and lofty pursuit but could be something simple like baking a new dish, capturing a glorious subset in our camera, or creating mandala art. Moreover, being original, spontaneous, and innovative in our – attitude, approach, and personality – sets us apart as unique individuals. Being with creative people, looking for daily inspiration and maintaining a creative journal often spur us to be more creative.
The Spiritual Steps: We often tend to overlook the raindrops and the showers that nourish our soul. Moments spent doing yoga, meditation, deep breathing, praying, listening to soulful music, connecting with our soul mates, spending time in nature, being socially conscious – all help us in relating to a higher power and the larger humanity. It calms our mind and heart leading to clarity of thought and actions and perhaps valuable revelations. And, if we persevere enough, we may be lucky to witness a glimpse of the divinity.
Taking all these steps in a day, however, or say habitually, may seem daunting and not really small even though we aspire and intend to fulfil every bit of it. Experts and successful practitioners of this approach have the following guidelines to offer.
Knowing the benefits of doing something every day: When we are aware of the reasons why we want to make a change, it’s more purposeful, meaningful, and useful. And when we falter in between we can always go back to the benefits we have been reaping. It’s also important that these steps are connected to our aspirations, dreams, and bigger goals.
Starting with small incremental steps: We need not spend a great deal of time every day to gain from this course. Small, micro everyday habits go a long way in guiding us toward big results. Since they are small and doable without being overwhelming, they are easy to incorporate into our lives. They are similar to small quick wins to keep us going and inspired. It’s more about building these small steps in the beginning and once are set, we may thrive to increase our steps. Five minutes of meditation or deep breathing for a month can motivate us to 10 minutes the next month. Also, a gradual and deliberate approach gives us a sense of control, the micro changes feel natural over time and become a part of the normal routine in the long run. And when you accomplish a small victory, it spurs and gives you hope to go for the next.
The Mantra is to repeat a little bit every day: A little bit every day is the key to experiencing a varied and balanced life. Once the habit is established, continue to practice every day and better it too. If you lose interest midway, remember the gains that you have enjoyed. Committing to a daily task helps in sustaining the momentum and the more we do something, the more it becomes a part of our everyday life. And finally, it doesn’t feel intimidating or a chore to be completed but something which we take pleasure in. The constant progress and improvement boosts our morale and inspires us to keep going.
If you falter and flounder, don’t give up but start again: Often on the way we may miss a couple of days or skip some tasks in between. But trudge along nevertheless. Go back and start again. But don’t stop because starting over is hard for it becomes much tougher to get back on track as the gap widens.
Do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone: While order and routine give us a sense of security, familiarity, and comfort, it’s the new experiences that offer greater possibilities, which you may not have thought possible and introduce us to newer opportunities and passions.
Aristotle wrote that “We are what we repeatedly do,” reminding us that each day is important. By doing a little bit every day, you’ll create patterns that last a lifetime. So, continuing with the process of practising these daily nurturing habits for our physical, mental, creative, and spiritual wellness is more like a favourable journey steering us to our destination. In fact, they shape and polish us more than our achievements.
A healthy mind, body and spirit are imperative to a fulfilling and well-rounded life. By treating ourselves to the valuable gift of our own attention, intent, and nourishing habits, we can achieve this.
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