In a society so focused on finding a quick and easy fix for everything, it's important to remember that some things in life are neither quick nor easy. Some things take a little longer and require a little more effort. Certain habits and practices need to be cultivated, strengthened, and refined over time.
However, if you're willing to make the investment in those areas that require a little more time and effort, the pay-off can be deeply rewarding.
Here are 5 practices that aren't necessarily quick and easy to implement. However, if you commit to them and make them a regular part of your life, these practices will benefit you and your life tremendously.
1. Take time to focus your mind at the start of each day.
"Focusing your mind" can take many different forms. It may be a time of mediation or stillness of some sort. It might be a time of prayer. You might spend time writing in a journal, or engaging in some other similar ritual. Whatever you choose, find something that engages your mind in a relaxed but focused way, and make it a regular part of your morning routine. You might still encounter challenges and difficulties throughout your day, but that initial time of focus will help to anchor you, so you're better equipped to respond to whatever lands on your plate.
2. Acquire the skill of incisiveness.
The word incisive comes from the Latin verb caedere, meaning "to cut." The ability to cut through noise and clutter is hugely valuable, in many areas of life. On a daily basis, we face an endless onslaught of media messages telling us what we need to have in order to lead healthy, happy, and fulfilled lives. We also face the challenge of navigating the daily complexities of life, as we try to make good decisions. Acquiring the skill of incisiveness allows you to do more than simply analyze what you're seeing in front of you; incisiveness enables you to cut through everything, so you're able view what's really going on with greater clarity.
3. Learn to say no.
We often think of learning to say no in the context of having our boundaries infringed upon. The ability to say no protects us from taking on too much or allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of. But there are other aspects of life where it's important to learn to say no. We need to say no to habits that are counterproductive to our well-being. We need to say no to behaviours that we've outgrown. We need to say no to anything that will wound our conscience or violate our sense of what is moral, just, and right. And we need to learn to say no even when there may be fallout or painful consequences.
4. Don't believe everything you've been told.
Aside from a few basic survival instincts, every one of us enters this world as a blank slate. The vast majority of ideas and concepts that we accept as absolute truth are things we've been told, shown, taught, or otherwise picked up over the course of our life. And while much of this is indeed true, some of it is misguided, inaccurate, or completely false. This affects our understanding of the world around us, and our understanding of ourselves and our place within that world.
Whether it's the report you heard on the evening news, or a negative message you received from your family that you've internalized over the course of your life, don't automatically believe everything you've been told. Be willing to ask questions and be open to re-evaluating long-held beliefs and perceptions.
5. Be mindful of the company you keep.
Healthy relationships can bring immense joy and meaning to our lives. At the same time, becoming entangled with the wrong individual or crowd can also lead to irreparable harm and widespread, lasting damage. People are imperfect; therefore, relationships will always have their imperfections, too. However, there is a wide gulf between expected hiccups in a relationship vs. utter destruction, be it emotional or otherwise.
Be mindful of the company you keep and the impact your relationships are having on you and your life. Take note of patterns of conduct in those around; what do you see that is worthy of emulation? And what do you see that is potentially harmful? Recognize when preserving a relationship comes with a cost, especially if it requires that you comprise your values and your principles. In any relationship, be honest with yourself regarding what you're observing and what you're experiencing; and listen to your intuition.
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