Lose the jaded-ness, girl.
Ask most people what they want out of life and they will respond that they "want to be happy." But the reality is that obligations, stresses, set-backs and broken dreams plague all of us at one time or another.
If you've found yourself feeling a bit stuck in the gray area between where you started and where you want to go, it's time to take control (which starts with accountability). Today, we're sharing 15 unexpected ways to move into a different direction and fall back in love with your life. Be warned: Your relationships, health, job and self-esteem are all about to get a major boost.
1. Wake up with a purpose.
Instead of simply hitting snooze and rolling over until you have to get up, force yourself to open your eyes, open the curtains or blinds (the light will signal your body to "wake up"), and spend a minute or two thinking about what you hope to get out of the day. You'll be amazed at how that small change will help you stay on track and move in a whole different direction.
2. Take time to prepare.
There's beauty in spontaneity, but if you don't learn the difference between "thinking on your feet" and just flat-out being unprepared, you're in for some big trouble. The only thing worse than meeting with someone who didn't do the legwork to make the most out of an opportunity is the person who everyone is looking at as lazy.
3. Send a "note of gratitude" every day.
Each morning, take a few moments to send a message to someone you appreciate, and tell them why you're happy they're in your life and what you love about them. You can do this via text, email, a handwritten note or even in person. Watch your relationships blossom.
4. Start showing up on time.
While fashion designers might enjoy the drama of a waiting audience, there's no such thing as "fashionably late" in real life. Not only is it rude to literally "waste" people's time, but you set yourself up for failure. Your guest isn't only likely to be bored and/or annoyed when you meet, but also stressed for time or less interested in you based on your lack of planning and respect.
5. Embrace differences of opinion.
Instead of taking someone disagreeing with you as a threat to your intelligence or ego, remind yourself that there's beauty in the exchange of ideas and everyone has wisdom to share. You'll have less arguments, lower blood pressure, and hell, you might even learn something.
6. Even if you can't forgive it, let it go.
Pushing yourself to forgive something you're not ready to forgive is a lot of added stress, but you do owe it to yourself to move away from thoughts, feelings and memories that are holding you back from creating the life you want and deserve. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel (without judgment), but then do whatever you need to do to let it go. It's a sad thing not to soar because you're unwilling to let go of dead weight.
You don't need to sign up for a huge commitment. Charities like NewYorkCares.com offer one- and two-day activities that can make a huge impact on those in need and your community at-large. Not only will you be serving others, but you'll also get a glimpse into a part of life that, perhaps, may change your perspective, while also meeting new people with a like-minded value system.
8. Find out what you don't know.
It's perfectly acceptable to say, "I don't know" when you don't know something, but before you start asking others for information, see if you can locate the answer yourself. People like to help those who are willing to help themselves, and no boss or helpful friend wants to constantly tell a new staffer to look on Google. Doing the legwork on your own shows initiative and will help to improve your research skills. Win-win!
9. Un-divide your attention.
We hear this so often, but how often do we actually take this advice? The next time you're with someone, put your phone away, look them in the eye, resist the urge to interrupt, and really take in what they're saying. You'll not only send a message that you care about what's being said, but you'll find your relationships becoming stronger and will retain more information during the exchange.
10. Make room for something better.
Change doesn't have to be scary. It can be liberating when you know that you're about to experience a better life. To do this, you're going to need to really make some room for new habits, people, and time for things you've said no to in the past.
Example: Maybe you're going out for cocktails four nights a week but you're really dying to get into shape or visit Morocco. Can you cut those nights out in half, and spend the money you save on a ticket and the free time in the gym?
11. Get your mind right.
Buddhists have equated the untrained mind to an out-of-control monkey (hence, "Monkey Mind"). While we may not be able to manifest our every dream into reality just by focusing on it, there's truth that our mind controls our life in many ways.
What we believe about the world and ourselves creates filters that can boost or dissolve our happiness, health, memory and ability to experience gratitude. Whether you want to see a therapist or start meditating, explore other options.
12. Identify what drives you.
What is your "why" What motivates you? What do the words you use actually mean to you? Don't just say you want to be "successful" or "healthy" or "happy." Give yourself some real definitions to fully understand what you're working toward. There's no better way to stay on your path to success/happiness than to have a real understanding of what you'll experience when there.
13. Keep your home clean.
Be honest: How much time do you waste looking for your keys, getting frustrated by the dishes that greet you in the morning, or the insane pile of laundry that has made it impossible to put together an outfit that looks reasonable for work? If less than 20 percent, you're free to pass "GO" and collect your $200. If more than that, it's time to take control.
Either hire a maid and laundry service (if you can afford it), or print out a schedule and keep to it. Push yourself to clean the kitchen every night before bed and put your keys in the same place every day.
14. Think broader.
When we enter into a situation, it's usually pretty easy to identify what we want to get out of it, but thinking about what's best for all parties involved and everyone's happiness is a game-changer. You may not get everything you want at the time you want it, but you'll find that more people are willing to compromise for you and help you get what you want when they know you're willing to do the same for them.
15. Communicate with your voice.
It's easy to send a quick text when someone has tested your patience, or send a long-winded email when you have short fuse. But think about all the times you've done that and ask yourself how that's worked out for you. The best way to move past disagreements and misunderstandings is to give both parties the opportunity to hear tone, and respond in real time.
Brenda Della Casa is the author of Cinderella Was a Liar, the Editor-in-chief and Digital Content Strategist at Preston Bailey Designs, and a Huffington Post Blogger. She regularly speaks on the topic of Digital Content, Social Media and Digital Strategy. Facebook: BrendaDellaCasa, Twitter: @BrendaDellaCasa, Instagram: @BrendaDellaCasa.