If you were to give yourself a grade, what would it be? An A+? B-? Where are you falling short? I'm not talking about grading yourself against some imaginary version of yourself... we're talking about the real you. How good a version of yourself are you?
We all have our off days. But overall, a lot of our joy comes from that sense of putting your best foot forward in life, making an effort, striving for new things, but also, being thankful for what you've got; registering those small achievements we all have every day and living in the present tense.
If your self-grade is low it could be because you're simply not giving yourself credit. And you'll never feel good if you don't do that. Recognize yourself! But maybe your grade is low because you feel there are certain areas you're coasting, some things that you feel you've given up on too soon? Or changes you need to make that you're holding back on?
In all honesty, you should be shooting for a B+/A- on most days -- you still want to have something to shoot for... life's not for resting on your A+ laurels! And really, it's the small things that make feel like you're hitting that good grade. Here are my top five:
Be a Good Friend
We all like to think we're a good friend and that we have good friendships. But, like any relationship, this is one that you can work on. Listening is an art form and often we get together with friends and just unleash all our updates on them, feel great and then go away. Work on having a real exchange... listen and be listened to. Make time.
Healthy and loyal friendships are one of the most important things we have in our lives. They provide a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold. They also provide hours of laughter and shopping company! But most importantly, a loyal friend accepts you for who you are, forgives and can be counted on. Being a loyal friend will make you feel fulfilled and happy. And the more diverse the better: young and old, workplace friendships and lifetime friendships, explore all kinds of friendships!
This one is difficult for most of us. We get swept away by the day... moving so fast we barely register our actions. Being mindful means feeling calmer and more in control of your reactions, decisions and exchanges.
But mindfulness isn't only about the external world, it's also a way of registering your own thoughts and feelings, knowing when you need to step away, or being able to make good everyday decisions -- like healthy meals and exercise. Mindfulness permeates every minute of your day for the better.
Being active isn't only about weight management -- regular daily exercise is good for MIND and BODY. It burns off stress and makes you feel strong, healthy. You can't be the best version of yourself if you're not looking after both mind and body and exercise is beneficial to both!
Involve a friend in your exercise regime and you'll motivate each other. I recently started spinning again and go with my girlfriend every weekend. The experience becomes so much more meaningful with her... we encourage each other and then reward ourselves with coffee and a chat afterwards. It's the perfect mix of physical and spiritual!!
Some alone time every day is one of the most important things you can give yourself. Time to meditate and process what's going on in your life, time to write things down in a journal, or read a book or simply sit in a coffee shop and people-watch.... however you like to spend your time alone.
In my job, I spend a lot of time with people, and I definitely crave alone time at the end of the day. It's that quiet time that restores your sense of self, letting you retreat so you return with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. I think moms in particular have a hard time with this one, as family always comes first. But trust me, giving yourself time to renew and restore will help you be the best version of yourself!
Be Generous to Yourself
Material things may be just material. But they can also make a difference to how you feel, day-in, day-out. A good haircut, a new lipstick, beautiful lingerie (just for you!)... all those things will make you feel polished, put together, ready to face the world. They'll give you inner confidence and radiance.
I really believe it's important to respect yourself and that means taking care of yourself in every way, even the ways we sometimes overlook when we're busy or blue. But to be the best version of yourself, you really have to feel good, feel comfortable in your skin. Feeling beautiful and confident is something that radiates from within -- so don't be afraid of giving yourself a little boost!
We all have times when we're a less-than-great version of ourselves. In the last couple of years, I can definitely put my finger on times when I've felt that way. Life has highs and lows, and we can't expect ourselves to be immune to what's happening!! But, at the same time, it's empowering to think about what YOU can do yourself to improve how you feel. These five steps may be obvious, but they're sometimes elusive things in our lives, especially when the world just doesn't seem to be on your side. You can change that for yourself!
Follow Natasha Koifman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/natashankpr