When you look at all the areas of your life that may need to change for you to live more nourished and less stressed, even this can feel overwhelming.
Where to begin? How to begin? And how many times have we enthusiastically announced we’re ready to make a big change! — only to fall back into comfortable but unsatisfying routines?
I’ve made several similar attempts in my past to revamp my life, only to find myself right back where I’d started: still searching for my keys every time I left the house; still unable to create and stick with a system; still in the jeans I’d once dubbed my “bloat jeans,” which morphed into my “everyday jeans”; still giving to others while neglecting self-care.
A good friend who is also a therapist once told me that people who come to see him are often stuck in a state he called “stable misery” — a place people tend to park and stall out on their own lives.
Most people don’t make radical adjustments for the better because the discomfort and uncertainty of change is more frightening than the current misery they’ve grown comfortable with.
That was an ah-ha moment for me. Yes, most often, people change for good (including myself) when life gives them a wake-up call or the discomfort grows to a point where the misery finally outweighs the fear of making a change. As someone once said, “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
How true is that? Most of us wait until things get really miserable before we’re determined enough to change our habits.
Even though most people don’t change until a crisis hits or the misery mounts to unbearable levels, the good news is that you and I do not have to be “most people.” We can make a choice to change without going through a crisis or meltdown. We really can proactively choose to live a more nourishing life and make small adjustments that yield happier dividends, without years of misery or sudden crisis.
In truth, the wisest, happiest women pause to consider their life on a regular basis. They interrupt the nonstop flow of activity now and again to ask, “What can I tweak in my life to experience less stress and more joy?” They don’t see life as dictated by fate; they see it as a series of choices and actions.
They see options and open windows with new vistas, where others see slammed, locked doors.
There are several paths to making more positive, nourishing changes. In fact, entire books and research studies are devoted to the subject of how people change or don’t change. The subject has fascinated me for years, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. Some paths are radical, exhausting, and painful but promise more immediate results. (Think Extreme Home Makeover or Biggest Loser.) Other researchers posit that lasting change happens best one teeny-tiny change at a time, drawn out over a long period. Both paths have worked for different people in different circumstances.
Certainly, personality types weigh into preferences for making a change, but life circumstances also play a part. My energetic daughter is, by nature, more of an extreme get-’er-done gal; I’m more of a “porch swing and hammock” girl. I prefer slower, gentler paths to change. Even so, outside circumstances have at times forced sudden and radical changes in my life, leaving my head spinning.
But once the spinning stops, I’m often amazed at the good changes left in the wake of an unexpected challenge. Now that Rachel is a mother, she’s experiencing limits to her preference for radical shifts. She may long for an extreme program, to jump on the fast track to major change. But her life is now dictated by a toddler’s pace, which doesn’t allow her the luxury of get-’er-done projects.
Like all moms of kids at home, her life is no longer completely her own; she’ll have to work around a young child’s needs to accomplish new goals. She has to make changes inch by inch, for now, even though her personality would really love to take life by the mile.
Lasting change requires two things: a plan and the motivation to tackle it.
Some of the most instantly freeing changes you make in your life will have nothing to do with a physical plan of action. They are simply decisions to shift your perspective or reframe a frustrating situation or minimize the impact some toxic person has on your life.
This change involves nothing more than transforming your thoughts. And in fact, once you’ve “got your head in a better place” — it could be that nothing more is needed. I didn’t need to cancel Thanksgiving… but I did need to slow down and calm down and see life through the eyes of my grandchild for a few minutes.
Maybe you don’t need a new job, but a fresh attitude instead. Maybe you don’t need to lose twenty pounds; you just need to love the body you are in and see it as sexy and gorgeous as is.
Most of the time, however, nourishing change involves a little of both—a little shift in perspective and a little action. A better attitude can keep you happy at your current job while still searching for a career that is a better, more enjoyable fit for you. Love and embrace your body as is; see it as womanly and beautiful, curvy, or voluptuous… and then treat it with healthy food and enjoyable exercise and maybe lose three or four pounds — and that could be all you need to feel a whole lot happier in your own skin.
If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. ~ Mary Engelbreit
Excerpted with permission from Nourished: A Search For Health, Happiness, And A Full Night’s Sleep by Becky Johnson & Rachel Randolph, copyright Zondervan.
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How are you nourishing habits that are healthy in your life? In what areas are you still struggling with?