We recently had our Covid-19 anniversary and this past year has been lunatic as we swayed in and out of our houses when countries went into lockdowns and opened up. A lot of us had goals that we set out to do since last year, which perhaps were not accomplished when the pandemic hit us.
I have the tendency to set big goals and by the end of the year I would feel frustrated with myself when I didn’t achieve it. Last year, I set the goal to grow and become a better me by putting myself in situations that were out of my comfort zone to explore new skills. I set the goal to be happy everyday. I also set the goal to lose weight and ended up gaining towards the end.
In looking for solutions, I came across “5 Positive Habits That Will Change Your Life” by Aileen Xu, an entrepreneur, who shares five important habits that will shift your mindset and change your life. It has helped me understand how small actions or shifts in mindsets can create big impacts on our lives. By sharing them with you, I hope we can change our lives together.
“Stop playing the victim. Stop complaining. Stop blaming”
We forget that everyone “has a different set of cards” to deal with. Instead of being absorbed in self-pity and being bitter about other people, we can go out there and learn to shape our own life. The first step is realization. Next, you need to try and change your thought patterns either by snapping out of it or changing the story you are telling yourself. Instead of thinking why everything is going against what you want, try thinking what if the universe is steering you away towards something for a reason? Maybe the timing wasn’t right or maybe something better is planned for you.
The one thing I really wanted to do since I joined university was to go abroad. In my freshman year, I wanted to go to a summer program in France but there were protests going on there so I was not able to go. Then, I planned to go to the National University of Singapore for a semester. After preparing everything, the pandemic started and it was cancelled. I tried again for the following semester and it got cancelled again as the Covid-19 cases increased. It felt as if life was never going to let me do what I dreamed of but then I thought to myself maybe I was not meant to go abroad yet and maybe I am meant to grow more before I go. Today, I look back and understand why.
Learning broadens our minds. We get to know ourselves and the world better. We have access to so many great resources. Our first thought might be to go to the internet but Aileen emphasizes books! Books are a collection of other people’s life experiences that are assembled together with careful thought and consideration so imagine how much knowledge we can gain from that. The best part is, you can read, learn, and grow at home! Creating a reading habit was quite difficult for me because I’d rather study for my classes. I learned to just start by reading ten pages a day or five minutes. Before I know it, I’d finish the whole book.
I have read some of the recommended books from Aileen’s list and I can guarantee that it is life-changing. For example, after reading “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer, one of the things I became aware of is my inner energy. When I am happy, my heart feels open and I can feel the energy rushing inside. When I am unhappy, my heart feels closed and the energy cannot go inside it. So to stay happy, all I have to do is keep my heart open to whatever that is happening. This seems surreal but once you try to feel it, you will know it’s always been like this, and it’s a very difficult task to keep your heart always open.
Practicing Daily Gratitude
Have you heard of the saying happiness is gratitude? Gratitude or being grateful seems like a very simple thing to do but we often give very less importance to it. When we put our whole intention into recognizing what we are grateful for, it surpluses. That is how we cultivate happiness and increase it.
I started this habit about one year ago and as time progressed, I learned to find something to be grateful for everyday. In unpleasant situations, I tried to look at what I could be grateful for and/or what lessons I can take from it. There are many ways to practice daily gratitude. If you journal everyday, one way to start this habit is to create a section or a page for each day to fill in five things you are grateful for. For those who do not journal, you can use an app. I like to use the Presently App (available on Playstore) as it also gives me a notification in the evenings so I am reminded to reflect back on my day. Simply start by writing three things you are grateful for today. You might come up with even more once you start reflecting.
I am personally still working on creating this habit. Living in a time where everyone is hustling, from the moment we wake up we want to jump and start our day right away so we can finish our to-do lists. Sometimes this builds up the stress and anxiety. Giving time to meditation can help us calm that chaotic mind of ours and it can also help us understand our thoughts better. I started by doing one-minute meditations then five-minute meditations. I used to get distracted by my thoughts a lot and I would imagine it flowing like a cloud. I would just observe it and let it go. So, starting my day with meditation helped to clear my head before I start the day. My current favourite is the 10 minute self-love meditation by Lavendaire.
Stop Taking Yourself and Your Life So Seriously
As we go to study or work everyday, we can become very focused on the situations we are in. For instance, I am a person who gets very stressed during exams because I want to get As in all my classes. I set the standard so high I put so much pressure on myself to the point I start feeling anxiety. Looking at the bigger picture though, at the end of the day, it's not my GPA that is going to get me anywhere. It is my experiences that will make me more skilled.
Here is what I try to do when I need to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Imagine you are standing on top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. You are breathing in the air deeply as you see miniature human beings going about their lives downstairs. You see fountains looking like flowers. You see buildings and houses looking as if they are made from lego blocks. Then, you look further as far as you can to see as much of the world as you can. Feel what you are feeling. Life is short, so don't take it so seriously. Enjoy it as much as you can.
Now you might be wondering why you should follow these habits. Life will throw many situations in your way, and you are in control of how you perceive it and how you react to it. These habits can be the foundation to a positive mindset that will help you face any situation in this life. Change the way you look at the situation. Read to broaden your horizons and understand the depths of your soul. Find things to be grateful for amidst the circumstances. Meditate to calm your mind. And look at the bigger picture. I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Joyce Meyer: “You may be given a cactus, but you do not have to sit on it.”
Narisa is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree, majoring in biomedical sciences and minoring in psychology. She believes in having a positive outlook in life, being a good human being, and respecting and understanding others. She is an animal-lover. In her free time, she enjoys learning new languages, baking, playing piano, traveling, celebrating, and spending time with her family and her dogs.