The big little sister is amazingly inspiring, especially when it comes to her health resolutions. After making some material changes in my own life recently I discovered that a lifestyle that feels more good does not stop with things, but involves and actually affects your mindset, too.
The big little sister talked about becoming a better person. She feels the same urge like me. I went through a certain process, looking for inspiration. Becoming better is continuous. Being aware is the first step.
I started with the living better daily scorecard from possibilityoftoday.com. (Scroll down to find the scorecard and instructions.) It is a list of things you want to accomplish, for example to have a good mindset, to be productive, or to be helpful and supportive. In the end of every day you credit yourself with points and see what you have to work on. I quickly developed my own chart and crediting system. I had weekly overviews where I simply marked whether I had accomplished a dairy free day or a good deed. After a while some basic rules developed out of this. Some are very concrete, like “Don’t multitask on the Internet.” or “Avoid plastic.” Others are more metaphysical like “Let go. This shall pass.” or “Gratitude & calmness & trust & quietness.” I hung them on the wall.
Next to the piece of paper that shows how often per week I want to run and write and read and do good. Whenever I’ve done it for one day, I push the paper clip one step ahead. Of course I try to reach the last marker every week.
What I learned from one of my favourite blogs, zenhabits.net, is the power of habits. The secret is to start very very small but regularly, and then increase. If you want to write a book, write a sentence each day for a while, then increase to a paragraph, then to a page. After some months, writing will be a habit that does not take much effort anymore. It will take long until that book is finished, but it will not be as hard and impossible as it looked like in the beginning.
I will implement my new year’s resolutions one per month. This month I want to start blogging twice instead of once per week and handwrite more. Baby steps, but I hope they will stick. In February I want to start fasting once per week. In March the marathon training starts. And so on. In the end of the year, I hopefully will have developed twelve new habits.
To achieve these habits and make them a daily routine, I have to get out of the comfort zone regularly. But that is the only way to develop. That is how I get assignments done for which we have to collect people’s opinion on the street (very uncomfortable!). That is also how I found out that it is not that hard to relinquish cheese and yoghurt (at first a very uncomfortable prospect!). That is how I learned to enjoy the early morning hour of writing instead of dozing.
For all that it helps to know what you are doing it for. Having a goal or an idea where you want to be and what you want to do after some time can give you lots of motivation. There are these lists and questionnaires you can fill out that promise you a system to find your life purpose. But sitting down and thinking or exploring new things or tavelling or talking and working with people or even dreaming might as well do the job. And I guess, no I am sure that NOT having a life purpose or the one direction is just as fine. Life does funny things at times, anyway.
Now that I plan my days and weeks and months, tick my deeds and credit my mindset – it happens often enough that I throw all those plans overboard and just do something completely else which does not fit in the schedule and will put me two miles back – but makes me happy. When a friend invited me for lunch: I ate a big egg and cheese pie during my vegan time instead of being picky. When I had planned to be productive and get done with all assignments before uni starts again: I went to a music festival instead of sitting at home. When I wanted to tidy up my room to start afresh the next day: I watched a beautiful movie. When your plans are somewhat picking on you: follow your rhythm. Under my basic rules I wrote after a while: “These rules are made by myself. I can adjust them.” It is good to remind myself of that.
As I do all the above things, I fail daily. I am not able to accept some people in my environment the way they are. I always find myself feeling superior. I still eat a lot of chocolate and dairy products although I am trying to be vegan and healthier. I still do not take as much time as I would need for reading all I want. But I am trying and learning and improving. And I am aware that I am not perfect and never will be. Being aware of that is the first step on the way to improvement.