“A strong, successful man is not the victim of his environment. He creates favorable conditions.” Orison Swett Marden
While our environment indeed shapes our behavior, it’s important to know that we also shape the environment that shapes us.
Let’s start with a reality check and then look at simple actions that anybody can take right away to improve the quality of their life.
How well do you take care of yourself, really?
Below is a list of 50 questions that have no right or wrong answers and where you define what “enough” means for you. Their only purpose is to make you aware of any possible gap (and associated necessary action steps) between where you are now and where/who you want to be in the future. It may lead you to identify a few areas in your life that you believe need improvement. Remember that it’s impossible to eat a whole elephant in one sitting, so list what you want to work on in order of highest priority for you and limit yourself to a maximum of 3 to 5 actions at any time.
About your bodily well-being, do you:
- Act in a timely way about health concerns and routine health checks?
- Avoid ingesting harmful substances, as well as control levels of potentially harmful ones, such as nicotine, alcohol, recreational drugs?
- Do things that help you sleep well or better?
- Eat healthily and regularly?
- Get away from the computer early enough at night and often enough; get off the couch and away from the TV often enough?
- Have a regular exercise practice?
- Keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day?
- Take good care of your teeth?
- Take time for physical intimacy? (It doesn’t have to be sex and could be time spend playing with a pet – having a loving and respectful physical contact with another living being.)
- Take time off from everyday routines for relaxing activities, e.g., to practice yoga, tai chi, or similar exercises, or to receive massages, energy work, etc.?
For your psychological well-being, how often do you have:
- Close, loving times with a particular person or animal?
- Enough control over your working and personal life?
- People around you who you can let your guard down with and show the real you?
- Quiet times for rest and contemplation or meditation?
- Recreational activities that stimulate you and take your mind off work and stretch you in new directions?
- Time for holidays and short breaks, away from telephones and responsibilities?
- Time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, perhaps through a personal diary or counseling/psychotherapy/life coaching?
- Time with a supportive social group/network such as friends, church, clubs, and so on?
- Times when other people can be in ‘the driving seat’ or caring for you rather than you caring for them?
- Times when you can share your emotions with people you trust, being yourself and talking about things that concern you or make you happy?
To look after your emotional well-being, how often do you:
- Allow yourself to acknowledge when you have done well and celebrate success?
- Appreciate nature or creative activities, e.g., make time for listening to inspiring and uplifting music, books, and films?
- Cultivate curiosity?
- Do nightly check-ins?
- Focus on your inner dialogue and aim to engage in positive self-talk using words of affirmation.
- Keep in touch with people who are important to you, and pro-actively take time to be with people whose company you enjoy?
- Play, sing, dance, laugh, or engage in fun/creative activities that you really enjoy and fill your cup?
- Practice self-compassion breaks when tough situations arise, e.g., tell yourself something like, “This is an emotionally challenging moment. Emotional challenges are part of life. May I be kind and curious with myself”?
- Use non-violent communication to express how you feel, identifying what happened, the feeling that came up, and the needs underlying that feeling.
- Welcome all emotions, allowing yourself to experience whatever comes up?
Thinking about your spirit, do you:
- Develop ways to encourage your hope, optimism, and energy for life?
- Engage in a spiritual community or partnership/friendship or something you believe in deeply?
- Engage in something where you allow yourself to experience overwhelming joy and passion, to be transported?
- Engage in, or observe, creative or artistic activities such as music, art, and poetry?
- Find time to be tranquil, maybe in quiet, peaceful surroundings, but also sometimes making that ‘space’ in crowded, busy times or places?
- Have awareness of what is meaningful to you and take time to acknowledge and celebrate it?
- Meditate, pray, or contemplate, formally or informally?
- Notice beauty in everyday surroundings?
- Notice things that inspire you?
- Take part in celebrations with your family, friends, community, and so on?
In your work setting, how often do you take time for:
- Being clear with yourself and colleagues/family about the limits of your work role and what you can and cannot take on?
- Ensuring professional development time?
- Finding opportunities for consultation and peer support?
- Giving attention to your bodily needs: proper meal breaks, toilet, fresh air, temperature?
- Having a quiet time for uninterrupted work?
- Making your workspace right for you and your work?
- Reviewing your terms and conditions of employment?
- Social interaction?
- Stepping back and assessing priorities?
- Taking as much autonomy and control of your own work and decisions as you can?
Click on the image below to get started with this lesson.