04/27/2013 07:49 EDT | Updated 06/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Seven Ways to Spring Clean Your Soul

yoga hands
yoga hands

When magnolias, forsythias, and daffodils colour the landscape after a long winter, one can't help but feel a sense of hope. As birds migrate back up to their homes in North America and animals come out of hibernation, we see and hear a lot of busy creatures preparing their nests, foraging for shoots, and performing their springtime rituals.

It's no coincidence that we also feel a strong urge to tidy up our work and home environments, eat lighter, and get motivated with new projects and goals. Spring, after all, is the season of renewal.

Your springtime instincts are telling you it's time to do some spring cleaning for the soul. Perhaps you want to lose weight, or get outdoors more, or make some new friends. Whatever your goal, here are seven ways to replenish your soul and start off on a new path to health and happiness.

1. Take a fresh look at your life.

See yourself adopting the behavior you want, the pattern of positive reinforcement that will help knock the old negative way of being out of your life. Envision how you will look, feel, be perceived by others, and most important, how you will see yourself with this aspect working for you every day of your life, whether it's a new way of training, or eating, or just a fresh way of relating to others.

2. See down the road.

If you're looking for positive changes in your life, see yourself in the middle of summer still fully engaged in whatever positive behavior you're striving to embrace. Close your eyes and imagine all the transformations in your life as a result of having adopted this new behavior and having made it stick. Really see that future you being empowered by the choices you're making right now.

3. Reach out to others.

Find people in your life whom you trust -- family, friends, coworkers, or like-minded group members -- and tell them what you're embarking on. It can be motivating to tell people that you're looking for a new job, or that you're quitting smoking, or have started back at the gym. We have the greatest reason to continue if we're doing it all together; that's community. Others will help you when you waver, and you can be there for them if they find their old patterns starting to return.

4. Let nature inspire you.

If you're wanting to make a fresh start in your life and clean out old cobwebs that have been holding you back, all you have to do is go outside and quietly observe life going on around you. When the sun rises in the morning, let yourself feel hope come into your body as the first rays of light hit you. Watch a bird build a nest. Notice that she's not discouraged -- she just keeps busy! Look at new leaves unfurling. All that activity should help you see that change is a necessary part of life.

5. Embrace the challenge.

Challenge is normal. It's what makes us stronger and smarter and more resilient. If the behavioral change you've committed to seems too daunting, simply adjust your attitude and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The Huichol people don't look at the size of the steep hill when they're planting. They just plant one kernel at a time and keep at it until, seed by seed and row by row, they've planted the entire hillside with corn.

6. Make it structured.

Many of us respond well to structure. If winging it doesn't keep you on track, give your intentions a form. Make a schedule of your personal goals each week, and hold yourself accountable to them. This creates clear, short-term, week-by-week goals. Make it a priority to change your body and soul. Life fills whatever space we leave empty -- so fill yours with activities and behaviors that reflect the way you really want to live. Don't forget to make a note of your successes each week to keep you moving forward.

7. Live what you ask for.

Asking for more joy in life but engaging in friendships that are volatile or unsupportive is an example of living out of sync with what you are seeking. Asking to win a race but giving up halfway through is another example. Keep reminding yourself of what you want to change in your life and then renew your vow to yourself. Live with the thoughts and actions that empower you, not ones that weaken you. When in doubt, ask yourself, "Does this behaviour/decision/person help me move forward, or block my progress?"

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