Over the years I’ve learned that some of the most effective things that you can do for yourself are often the simplest. And, unfortunately for most, the simple things are often overlooked. By using the resources at your disposal (time, money, energy) in a smart and selective way, you can get a greater return for yourself.

We often think about investments being monetary. But sometimes the best way to invest is by changing your habits and rituals to something that is more action-based instead of reactionary. Many people live their lives responding to things that they perceive as ‘happening to them’. The victim mentality is something that is easy for people to get into, but with a change of thoughts and habits, you can snap out of it pretty easily. Here are 5 tips that have helped me to gain a better mindset and be more effective.

1. Embrace Gratitude

I’ve written about gratitude on multiple occasions and this is mainly because I have seen and felt how it has affected my own life. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful for what you have in your life. For who is in your life. And in an age of social media and comparison, being thankful for what you have is even more important. It starts with awareness and, with regular practice, grows to a place of contentment. If we listen to the world, there is always something that we need to acquire. Some ‘thing’ that will make our lives better. But the reality is that no ‘thing’ can really make us happy. It has to come from within. I heard a great talk with Tony Robbins that said “when you are grateful, you can’t be angry or anxious.” And that is so true. Gratitude is like the antidote for many of the negative feelings many people deal with.

2. Make Your Morning Intentional

For many people, the morning is the only time of day that they really have true control over their time. So it’s only natural that it is a great place to start making a change in your life. For me, the morning is a great time for some me-time, in which I can spend time in prayer and meditation. I like to wake up between 4:40am and 5:15am, before my wife and daughter (and dog) have gotten up, and go downstairs to a corner chair that I’ve made into my ‘spot’. I like to read the bible, spend 15-30 minutes in meditation (here is a great article on getting started in meditation) and incorporate gratitude into my thoughts. It is a fantastic way to start the day! It isn’t a huge time commitment but the results are so powerful.

3. Make Time For Exercise

As a society, we live a very sedentary life. And humans are not meant to be sedentary beings. We’re meant to move. To work. To be physical. And that physical activity releases chemicals in our brains that make us happier, more focused, more empathetic and, simply put, better. This is one of those things that there is no shortcut for. You have to MAKE the time and put in the effort. Make it a fun thing with your family- get the crew together and go for a nightly walk around your neighborhood. You’ll see and smell new things that you’ve passed many times and you’ll meet other people. Walking is so underrated!

4. Eat Good Food

I’ve befriended Anoosh Shariat and Paula Barmore (we’ve started a new company called Yes502Media.com) and I’ve learned so much from them about food and health. We truly are what we eat, and many of the diseases that plague our society stem from our poor diet. Major refining of foods and chemical additives have taken a toll on our bodies to a large extent. But the beautiful thing is that you can change your habits and eat better today! Start with a simple diet that is mostly plant-based, stick with it for a week and you’ll notice pretty quickly how much better you feel.

5. Journal

Journaling is something that is both reflective and forward thinking. It is a place that you can put feelings and thoughts down on paper that can help to get them out of your head. It is almost a physical transference, in that it takes it from your mind and puts it on record in your journal. Personally, I’m a big fan of the 5 Minute Journal. It goes along with the gratitude model and easily incorporates into my life. Plus, it’s fun and it makes me feel better.

Final Thoughts

These are things that I have, and continue to do, on a regular basis and they have improved my life in many ways. And they’re so simple. I’m reminded of a quote that I heard a while back that goes “the secret to life is in the cliché”. Think about all the corny sayings you’ve heard over the years. “Think happy thoughts and you’ll be happy.” “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” “You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.” Guess what? They’re all true.

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