We’ve resolved to make 2015 our healthiest and happiest year yet and part of that change is taking steps to be a better person, inside and out. We tapped into our panel of experts and editors to get 15 ways to be a better you in 2015. Do you have tips to share? Be sure to write them in the comments section below!
Our editor, Jackie Burns Brisman
1. Have an attitude of gratitude
There is a quote I love that says to be grateful for the things you have, because someone else is praying for them. So often we get caught up in the things that other people have (or seem to have) be it designer clothes, fancy vacations, a large group of friends, or a loving, intimate relationship and we take for granted the wonderful things we do have. Make a list of the things you have to be thankful for in your life each day, not just when there’s a turkey for dinner. Sometimes the list is going to be simple, but remember the fact that each day brings with it a fresh start and that even that is something to be thankful for.
2. Step away from the smart phone and join us IRL (in real life)
I’ll be the first to admit that having a smart phone has changed the way I interact with everyone. I constantly want to stay updated on what’s happening with the people I follow on social media and by doing that I am failing to keep up with what’s happening with the people I’m with in real life. This year, during the important moments put the phone away. At dinner, during a spa visit, or just when you’re sitting at home after a day of work with your roommate or your significant other, take the time to be present.
3. If you don’t have anything nice to say…
Mom and dad were right – if you don’t have anything nice to stay, don’t say anything at all. We’re all been there, we hear something, we repeat it to someone else, and then the subsequent guilt sets in. This year do your best to keep gossip at bay. You’ll not only be a better person but you’ll feel like a better person.
Our editor, Kate Phillips
4. Take 15 minutes for yourself every day.
Many of us get so concerned about taking care of everyone else’s needs or interests without realizing we’ve neglected our own. Putting yourself first for 15 minutes—whether it’s doing a few yoga poses, putting a quick polish on your nails, or soaking in a bubble bath—will make you a happier, better person; therefore, you can be that to others as well.
5. Push yourself to try new fitness alternatives.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent far too much time knowing I have the potential to do something—like getting through that spin class or running that extra mile—but not trying because I’m scared or “just don’t feel like it.” This year make it a point to stop making excuses and attempt workouts that once made you apprehensive, intimidated, etc.—you’ll feel great about yourself afterward, we promise!
6. Distinguish between “wants” and “needs.”
Determining what’s really important in terms of material items—do you really need Starbucks today or is it a want? Do you really need that expensive handbag at this time or is it just an impulse buy?—will help you appreciate what you already have.
Dr. Nina Smiley, Director of Mindfulness Programs at Mohonk Mountain House
7. Make this the year to be honest with yourself!
While it sounds simple, it requires that you be mindful of what you’re doing and be aware of your own actions, one moment at a time. Be accountable to yourself and become an “anthropologist” as you look at the “data” of your life. If an action is skillful, do it again! If it’s unskillful, try something else. Guidelines as simple as these, applied with compassion, can change your life!
8. Start mentally rehearsing success.
Athletes and musicians mentally prepare for what they plan to do. In their mind’s eye, they picture themselves completing a flawless performance. This visualization helps them achieve their goals and you can do the same! As you work to master a new skill, achieve a goal, or transform a difficult relationship, imagine yourself doing the sequence of necessary actions and make it feel as real as possible. Do this again and again. Research indicates that time spent visualizing ourselves performing an activity in advance makes it easier for us to do.
Lana M. Kontos, N.D., Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner
9. Make decisions that will positively influence your health for a lifetime. Don’t make resolutions, make smart wellness decisions, daily.
For example, decide to make water your drink of choice. Every single day, drink half your body weight in ounces of plain water. Plain water consumption is something that truly needs done daily without fail; your cells need plain water to operate.
10. Your environment matters. Make a decision to be more aware of who you surround yourself with and be very aware of their habits.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be a better person. People who eat well, who read, who are passionate about their work and about their hobbies, who exercise. You’d be surprised how the wrong environment and the wrong individuals will derail your goals; your goals in your professional life and your wellness goals.
Debra K., Host of The Journey into Wellbeing
11. Put yourself first.
An “ah ha” moment arrived a couple years ago when I realized that much of my energy was being spent on others…other people’s businesses, welfare, success, and wellbeing. It was almost shocking for me to realize I had put myself at the bottom of my own priority list. A big step towards reducing my chaotic overworking was to move myself to the top of the list. I somehow knew that by doing this, I would make better choices about how I spent my time. By taking better care of myself, it became easier to help others because it was now coming from a place of self-care first. I could set personal boundaries easier and when I did do for others I held less resentment which can weigh a person down.
12. Simplify your snacking process.
You have to have the energy to do all you need to do during the day. Fortunately, nature provides us exactly what we need in handy little packages called fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In our time-starved lives it becomes easy to quickly grab a bag of snacks. It’s important to know that if it comes in a handy bag it most likely is an over processed, sugar loaded, genetically modified bunch of gunk. Try to keep handy fresh fruits, vegetable snacks, pumpkin seeds, nut butters, and easy-to-grab items that are filled with nutrients and won’t have you craving more junk in a short period of time.
13. Force the chill.
This one is hard, especially for us Type-A workaholics, but it is vital for our overall wellbeing that we take time out and chill! It has been proven that taking a few moments to “not do” can make you better when you go back to doing. I have set a timer on my phone to go off twice during the day with a reminder to take a few moments off and relax. I use this time to get up and stretch, focus on my breathing, sit quietly for a moment, or to grab a healthy snack. I’m not a napper, but I will lie down for 30 minutes and close my eyes.
14. Make movement an easy choice.
We all know exercise is good for us, but many of us feel that if we can’t go out and do some serious hardcore fitness, we might as well not even bother. Make exercising easier by inviting movement during your regular day. For example, keep a yoga mat in front of your television so when it’s time to check out, you can stretch during commercials. Always have your workout clothes ready to go by the front door so when the mood hits you can grab and go. Hang stretch bands around the house and when you are in between work activities you can work your upper body. You can be creative in this way at work to.
15. Least effort, most reward
Another philosophy I have adopted is to decide which activities I can put energy towards that will take the least amount of work, but offer the most reward. It often feels there are twenty things on my “to do” list and in the past I would seek to tackle them all. Now I scan through the things I have to do and place most of my energy towards those things that bring the greatest pay off for my effort.