Every day we make handfuls of commitments. We say we'll meet friends for drinks or pick up the dry cleaning. We swear we'll make it to the gym or call our grandmothers. And while these are all great promises, they all have one slightly negative commonality: They sound more like items on a to-do list than actual vows.
If you're wanting to make promises that are really worth crossing your heart for, try making the five vows below. Then swear not to break them.
I will make a point to notice when life is good.
It's easy to dwell on the dreary days, the bad workouts, the broken coffee machine and the horrible fights, but the antidote isn't incessant rumination. Practicing gratitude in spite of the negative is the best way out. Expressing thanks -- whether it's just calling the good to mind or writing it down -- can help you deflect bad experiences and cultivate a happier attitude. By promising yourself you'll look at the good side and being thankful for it, you're automatically setting yourself up for joy.
I will listen to my body and my mind when I'm stressed out.
As HuffPost President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington points out, burnout is the disease of our civilization -- so how can we prevent ourselves from catching it? When something's wrong, our bodies tend to scream louder than our minds. It's important to tune into the warning signs of stress -- physical and mental. That includes paying attention to out-of-the-ordinary symptoms like upset stomachs, tight muscles and recurring dreams, and making a promise to tap into those red flags. You may be able to stop (and ultimately avoid) burnout.
I will smile at one stranger today.
Giving a friendly grin isn't just a simple gesture -- it's an instant wellness booster. Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling can increase your mood, and flashing those pearly whites to a stranger can help you feel more connected. By promising to smile at someone once a day, you're not only helping yourself, you're boosting the morale of others. And doesn't that feel good?
I will be kind to myself.
Whether it's your appearance or your abilities, you deserve to be treated respectfully --and that includes the thoughts you have about yourself. Research shows that self acceptance is paramount to a happier life, but it's the habit we tend to practice the least. Make a vow to be kinder to the person staring back at you in the mirror. Don't know where to start? Try saying these phrases to yourself each day.
I will try my best.
We're often our own worst critics when it comes to estimating our abilities, so make a promise to yourself today that you're going to take control of that criticism. Shame-based thoughts get us nowhere, and soon they affect more than our capabilities at work.
As licensed psychologist and author Margaret Wehrenberg points out, the labels we give ourselves are the ones that stick -- and it's better to accept what your best is than put down what you're not. "Observing without judgment can move you to see yourself in new, objective terms and can lead to greater understanding and acceptance of yourself without the negative labels," she wrote in a recent Psychology Today blog. "A consequence will be greater compassion toward others and more positive relationships."
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.