I've made some pretty big changes in my life recently and, as a result, I like myself a heck of a lot more. I don't take things so seriously all the time. Now, there's a lot more fun and laughter in my life. Here's how I achieved this:
1. Go to the bookstore and spend some time in the kids section.
As you stand in the bookshop, be amazed by all the magical and enchanting front covers. Then buy a book, one that catches your eye. Rush home, pour yourself a glass of refreshing ginger beer and immerse yourself in some faraway fantasy land. BE a kid all over again.
2. Pat yourself on the back.
And I mean literally. When I’ve just finished a tough run, or after swimming a whole heap of lengths, I physically pat myself on the back and say, "Well done, Mark, good job!" I do it every time without fail and it puts a smile on my face and makes me feel rather proud of myself for my achievement.
3. Climb a tree.
I grew up on a farm and spent most of my non-school time climbing things, anything really, but my favorite thing to scale was a tree. From high up, I could keep a look out for bandits and pirates coming to steal our sheep. So go out into the local woods, the park, anywhere with some (safely) climbable trees. Then take off your coat and drop your adult-induced inhibitions and start climbing. Don’t look down. Just climb.
4. Speak to yourself as if you were speaking to a friend.
How often do we berate ourselves for not doing something quite as we had it planned out in our minds? Maybe you got a bit tongue-tied giving a presentation at work that day. Or you had to stop 2 short on your goal on your morning run because you were wiped out. We can be incredibly harsh and cruel to ourselves. Imagine your friend (let's call her Linda) came to you and said, "Can you believe I could only swim for 30 lengths today, I told myself I had to swim for 50. I am such a loser!"
You wouldn’t say to Linda that she was a failure. You’d be kind to her. Well do the same and be kind to yourself!
5. Go camping.
Tell the kids you’re all going off on a mini-adventure, or go it alone. Dust off your rucksack, grab the sleeping bag, pack some food, buy a map and a torch, and go off and spend a night under canvas. Gather some kindling and light a fire, tell some ghost stories, have fun away from the "real world."
I did this the other night, I went to some local woods, pitched my tent and woke up as the sun was rising through the trees. I felt very blessed and truly alive.
6. Write. Write. Write.
Every morning as soon as I wake up (and then whenever I feel like it during the day) I write at least three pages in my notebook. I write whatever comes into my head. It's for your eyes only, so just go ahead and write. If it doesn’t make sense or sounds daft, it doesn’t matter. Those are the words you have written, so just go with the flow.
I sometimes find I write about the dreams I had that night. Often I will start writing about something I hadn’t realized had been on my mind, but that has made itself known. I can then act on and resolve issues I didn’t even know had been bothering me. I find this is a very effective way for your sub-conscious to make contact with your conscious mind. (I always carry a notebook and pen with me, so I can do some writing when I feel I want to.)
7. My final tip, and a personal favorite, is to take off your shoes and socks and go for a barefoot walk (or run).
Nothing makes you feel more connected to the planet than this. It is especially nice doing this on a warm summer's day in a field of soft, welcoming grass. Just let your feet do their thing, feel like part of nature and do a bit of reconnecting.