7 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Life Starting Next Week
Practicing these habits can set you on a course toward business success, lasting friendships, and better health and well-being.
If personal development and self-improvement is your thing, you should really appreciate this list to kick off your week on a high note. First off though, I need to communicate its true intent so there are no misgivings or misinterpretations.
As you scroll further, you’ll notice a pattern (which could repel many of you expecting a magic pill solution to solve all your problems): Life is really about giving, service, and meaningful relationships. Having discovered this years ago, everything for me started to evolve– business success, lasting friendships, health and well-being.
Many of the activities below can be done in as little as a few minutes per day. Others will require some stretching as they will call you to stand in the divine space of putting others first.
As you make these rituals habitual and rewire your brain to the positive, you’ll start to see immediate benefits: More inner peace, lasting joy and, ultimately, great success as people will be drawn to you like a magnet.
Monday: Try a “five-minute favor.”
“Five-minute favors” are selfless giving acts without asking for anything in return. Examples of five-minute favors include: sharing knowledge, making an introduction, serving as a reference for a person, product, or service, or recommending someone on LinkedIn, Yelp, or another social place. As Adam Grant, author of Give and Take points out, by paying it forward, you are more successful without expecting a quid pro quo. And you aren’t just helping others in five focused minutes of giving. You are supporting the emotional spread of this practice–it becomes contagious.
Tuesday: Align your purpose with doing something to help another person.
Remind yourself frequently that the purpose of your life is not to work 10 hours per day, five days per week for 30 years, then retire to a golf course in Florida. Your true purpose should be to discover your calling in life, basking in the joy of the journey along the way, one step at a time. In the end, remember that your legacy is left to these two important questions:
- What impact did I make on the lives of others?
- Who did I serve and make better?
Wednesday: Express gratitude to five people you know.
Make a list of 5 people at work for which you are thankful.Think back on the key contributions, accomplishments, or events that have happened during the calendar year involving these people. Next, express your gratitude to them. Whatever your method (email, text, hand-written note or phone call), make it personal and heartfelt and let these people know how you feel about them and their work. For long-term effect, do it for 21 straight days. Here’s why: Positive psychologist and bestselling author Shawn Achor says the reason this is so powerful is that you’re training your mind to scan for positives instead of negatives. This activity is the fastest way to teach optimism and will significantly improve your outlook even six months later.
Thursday: Spend 30 minutes with someone you can learn from.
The best conversations in life are initiated by learning about what other people do, how they do it, and why they do it. People love to talk about themselves and if you’re smart enough, you’ll let them! So be the person who shows up with the humble gesture of “I want to learn from you” and invite that person to coffee. It will make you better, and he or she will appreciate the chance to pay it forward. Want to go a step further? Seek out someone considerably younger than you (a Millennial if you’re a Gen-Xer of Boomer) that brings real value to your work or life in an area unfamiliar to you, and learn from that person. Ever heard of a “reverse mentor”?
Friday: Show kindness throughout the day.
Research by Jonathan Haidt at New York University says that if you watch a co-worker help another co-worker, it heightens a sense of well-being in you. Haidt calls it “elevation.” And when you feel elevated by seeing an act of kindness, you’re more likely to behave with kindness. As kindness spreads throughout the organization with co-workers helping each other out, a snowball effect takes place: The work atmosphere becomes more civil and less fear-based, and employees not only provide better customer service on their own accord, without prompting, but they also develop better relationships at work. As a result, another study indicates, productivity levels go up. If you need ideas to jump-start your path to kindness, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) has a 31 Day Kindness Challenge from which you can glean some cool tips.
Saturday: Spend money on a shared experience with someone else.
Forget buying material possessions or splurging on yourself. Several studies found that happiness comes from experiential purchases that involve other people, like taking in a play, a 9-hole round of golf, or going out to dinner or coffee with someone else. When you do, it improves your well-being more than spending on high-tech toys. “It may be less the doing that creates happiness than it is sharing the doing,” the authors of one study explain. So for today, seek out a close personal friend and share in the joy of an experience both of you will enjoy.
Sunday: Practice the rare art of active listening.
Lets be honest: How often do you find yourself trying hard to avoid interrupting others while they are speaking? Do you find yourself tempted to jump in and finish someone else’s sentence? You see, active listening is being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond. That’s when both parties know real listening is taking place. When you speak to other people today, get in the habit of eliminating your distractions in the moment. Then give the speaker your full attention. What you’re communicating non-verbally is “I am interested in what you have to say.” You do that by first putting yourself at ease. Get relaxed, have open body language and posture, don’t rush the conversation, and give the speaker time to think and process his or her thoughts.
This article was written by Marcel Schwantes, who is a speaker, executive coach, podcaster, and syndicated columnist drawing over a million readers per month worldwide to his thought-leadership.
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