For years, I felt swallowed up by life. I gained baby weight and hated my body. I sat at home, feeling like I should be grateful for the opportunity to stay with my little ones, but instead, I felt unfulfilled, ungrateful and trapped. I looked around at the other moms who looked like they had it ALL together (i.e., looking cute and NOT wearing yoga pants) and felt like a loser because I was miserable but couldn’t see any way out.
I tried shaming myself out of my funk. You KNOW better, you’re a positive person, Kristen ... pull yourself together! I tried will-powering my way out of my funk. If you just think happy thoughts, you’ll be back to the old you in no time!
Guess what? It didn’t work. Bullying myself into feeling better only made me feel worse. I started believing that I was bad for feeling bad and, well, that just turned into a vicious little cycle.
And then, something clicked. I'd heard it over and over in my life: to make lasting changes, you have to change your habits. To make something a habit, you have to take action and practice the new, desired skill you want to master every day. It had never occurred to me happiness was a skill that could be learned. If I could rewire my brain to eat healthy foods or exercise regularly, I could certainly rewire my brain to choose healthier thoughts, right?
So, I made happiness my job. I started incorporating new behaviors into my daily routine to start rewiring my brain to naturally lean toward happiness, gratitude, passion. And there are a bajillion different things you can do, but there are a few at the foundation that are so simple and incredibly powerful.
1. Set intentions (and reminders).
I set intentions for everything: my days, my workouts, my client sessions, even my naps. Why? Because this puts me back in the driver’s seat of my life instead of being a passenger thrown around in the back seat. I decide at the onset of an activity how I want to feel and why. For example, before writing this piece, I set this intention: I want to feel focused and centered so that I can be productive.
Now, the trick to setting intentions is to check in periodically and ask yourself, Am I feeling the way I intended to feel? If not, what do I need to do differently or let go of in order to realign with my desired feeling? Two bonus tips to consider while you’re incorporating this new habit: