Those annoying, little chores in life that we avoid or procrastinate about are just as important as seeking enlightenment.
Don’t get me wrong, I happen to firmly believe that working on your inner rock star is crucial to how well you live your life. Self-betterment is something that we all should be working on and towards. At the same time, though, life is those seemingly minor moments when we’re asked to do something that we don’t want to because it’s not fun or spiritually “deep” enough, or whatever.
It’s all b.s.
Here’s a list of some of those “little” things that you should do if you want to truly live your life as your best self.
1. Exercise. You don’t like to exercise? Who cares, do it anyway. Just a short walk around your block a few times makes you a healthier person—and the cool thing is that if you push through not wanting to do it, you might arrive at that unexpected place of enjoyment when you do.
2. Drink water. Oh, how I harp on this one. I happen to love water. L-o-v-e. Yet I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say they don’t like drinking water. So what? It’s not that hard to force yourself to drink a few sips.
3. Say “I’m sorry.” You have a hard time saying the words “I’m sorry.” Well, news flash, so do a lot of people who still say it. Offering the chance for forgiveness to someone else is incredibly self-serving actually, and, unfortunately, we all occasionally act in ways that merit an apology from time to time—and you might be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards.
4. Eat vegetables. This might come as a shock, but our taste buds crave what we eat. Meaning, you might have to force down those green spoonfuls a few times before you actually begin to like them.
5. Stop bending your elbow. In college, one of my favorite teachers was my nutrition teacher. He was a big, well-dressed man with a rich Southern accent. He constantly dramatically mimed eating in front of the class, and said we have to find the willpower to stop bending the elbow (i.e. quit putting more food in your mouth). As a recovered anorexic, I am more than fully aware how intrinsically food can be connected with emotions. However, the reality is that what we eat—and don’t eat—affects the quality of our lives. Putting this into practice does take willpower, but I know you can do it.
6. Smile. If you work with someone who challenges you, then, congratulations, you should meet every other person on earth who experiences this too. Smiling at someone who knows how to push your buttons is a skill that should be practiced every day.
7. Clean up. This will probably be something I have to practice for the rest of my life. I strongly dislike cleaning (as do many people), but everyone loves the feeling of living in a fresh, inviting space of health and cleanliness. This means that I have to pick up my dustrag and get to it, even when I don’t really feel like it. (Bonus, cleaning is good for your root chakra.)
8. Live by example. Something that everything on this list could go for is the importance of teaching your children through example. I remember a fellow college student, who was also a mother, telling me that she wished her children would eat vegetables like I did. I, in turn, asked her if she ate a wide variety of veggies herself. She replied no, that she didn’t like them. Well, how interesting then that your children won’t eat them either. We absolutely cannot ask or demand our kids do one thing while we blatantly disregard our own advice.
9. Say “I don’t know.” Pretending to know the answer to every question that comes your way is bogus, whether you’re a college professor or a stay-at-home yogi like me. None of us have all the answers, so quit pretending to be a know-it-all, because it makes those times when you do have something worthwhile to share significantly less special.
10. Share the how. I have to hop on Waylon’s bandwagon that people are too often told what we should be doing rather than being told how. In other words, it’s so easy to tell someone to do “good” or to “let it go,” but how often do you share how you let it go? A lot of the “sage” advice out there is junk. I don’t want to hear one more person tell me to love my enemy. However, I’ll gladly welcome more thoughts on how you’re going about doing that in your own life and experience.
There are so many things I could add to this list, and I’m sure you feel the same way. Still, you have to start somewhere.
While I plan on continuing my path to yogic enlightenment, I have to be honest about that fact that I’m living a human existence with human responsibilities, some of which might seem unimportant or minor.
Nothing in life is minor. It all adds up.
Taking out the trash without complaining means that my husband didn’t have to do it this morning when he didn’t have time. That’s living kindness with someone important in my life; that’s a concrete way to show my affection—and sometimes showing love and living your journey towards enlightenment means changing out your laundry instead of changing the world.
So excuse me, I have to get running. I think I hear a recycling truck.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta