Every 365 days, our planet reaches an arbitrary point in its elliptical orbit around the Sun and we all get together to celebrate the end of one revolution and the beginning of the next. At this point in time, we take a long look at ourselves and resolve to make positive changes. We seek to atone for our past transgressions and commit to healthy habits for the new year. In reality, our commitment often wavers after about a week as we slip back into old, familiar patterns. 2018 is still young, however, and everyday is an opportunity to institute change. In an effort to be helpful, we have compiled a short list of easily attainable goals that are sure to improve your quality of life.
1. Watch less television. It is a sad fact of life that many of us would rather watch TV than have our own, real experiences. Inexplicably, we prefer to watch an electronic simulation of reality instead of actually participating in life. At our jobs, we can’t wait for the day to be over so that we can finally go home and do the things we love to do. Unfortunately, many of us don't really know what it is we love to do, so we switch on the television instead. Television offers us a realistic replica of the real world, except that the experience is limited to just two of the five senses: sight and sound. Because of this, we may watch a show about a family going camping in the woods, but we won’t be able to feel the warmth of the fire, nor can we smell the campfire smoke or taste the delicious s'mores being prepared. Unlike real life, watching television does not require our active participation, just our passive observation. We end up silently witnessing a dulled-down version of reality, passing off other people’s highs and lows as our own. This is no way to experience life. Watching television here and there is not a problem, just as long as it doesn't become the defining feature of our existence.
2. Drink more water. At the very least, try drinking a big glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning. The human body is over 70% water and, during sleep, you are not drinking water for about 8 hours straight. Therefore, you wake up dehydrated every single morning. Dehydration has many side effects, but mostly it makes you feel tired and groggy. Most people counteract this grogginess with a big cup of coffee. While drinking coffee will definitely wake you up, it will also leave you even more dehydrated in the long run. Drinking a 16-ounce glass of water when you wake up is the best thing you can do to counteract dehydration and get your day started right. It not only hydrates all the essential organs, it also flushes out toxins and kickstarts your metabolism. On top of everything else, it makes you feel great. Give it a try and see for yourself!
3. Stretch more often. At Well Being, we will always check in with our clients before a massage to see if they have any issues that need to be addressed. The most common complaints we hear is that their necks are sore and their backs are stiff. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client follow this up with, “I just need to stretch more- I don’t stretch at all. I know that I should be stretching everyday but I never do it.” Well… why not? It’s so strange that we all know exactly what to do in order to be happy and healthy, but somehow we can’t bring ourselves to actually do it. Perhaps, by default, we naturally seek the path of least resistance. When it comes to stretching, doing nothing is inherently easier than doing something, so we often end up taking no action whatsoever. Meanwhile, our spines stiffen up and our supporting muscles go into spasm. It doesn’t have to be this way- suffering is always optional- but only if we are willing to do our part. Imagine how good you would feel if you stretched your body regularly. Now, stop imagining it and start living it!
4. Stop trying to be perfect. One of the most prominent barriers to spiritual growth is the false belief that we are not quite there yet. Our consistent desire to improve ourselves stems from a deep seated belief that we are simply not good enough. We believe ourselves to be broken and in need of fixing. In truth, all we really need to do to be happy in this life is to love ourselves unconditionally. Yet, we purposely withhold this self-love because we feel unworthy of it. We have in our minds this ideal standard, this vision of the perfect human being that we are supposed to become. Once we get there, we will finally be able to love ourselves. However this idea of perfection is a complete illusion. There is no final endpoint, no moment when we achieve our vision of the ideal self. There will always be more to strive for, more to accomplish. It makes far more sense to love ourselves right here and now- flaws and everything. By doing this, the lifelong struggle to be perfect can finally end and we can move onto more important things- like enjoying life.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.