Most of us live life in the fast lane. We fill up our days and compete to see who can get things done the fastest. Life is a journey – not a destination. Yet we seem to be obsessed about getting somewhere.
When we finally reach what we think is success, we say “I’ve arrived.” I’ve reached my goal. And then we realize that things aren’t very different from the way they were before.
We stress, we fret and we strive to reach our goals, forgetting that the destination is not what will bring us peace and contentment. We spend so much time reaching for “success” that we forget to do the things that we want to do; the things that make us happy.
Here’s the good news: Things don’t have to be this way. It is possible to live a simpler, more peaceful, more satisfying life. Here are some suggestions to steer you in the direction of a life of contentment.
Society has glorified the idea of being “busy.” If you’re not busy, you must be lazy or up to no good.
But when we fill our days up with things to do, we leave no time for relaxation. This leads to stress, sleep deprivation and a host of other issues.
Instead of packing your day, try narrowing your tasks down to just a few important ones. Give all of your attention and focus to these few things. Take your time. When you’re not in a rush, you do things the right way.
Do What’s Important
Take a step back and look at your commitments. Take a look at how you’re spending your time. What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to accomplish with your work? Who do you want to spend your time with?
Make a list of 3 things you want for your life, 3 things you want to accomplish with your work, and 3 people you want to spend your time with. Stay focused on these things and make them priorities.
Most of us take on so many commitments that it makes it difficult to focus on the things we want to do and are passionate about. Reexamine your commitments and see if there’s a way to trim these down.
Accept that you cannot possibly do everything on your own. That’s why our new aim is to focus on what’s most important.
Yes, it’s okay to rest. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back. Give yourself some time in between appointments and tasks.
If we don’t give ourselves that time cushion, we go through each day feeling stressed and rushed.
Things always take longer than planned. That’s the nature of life.
Allow yourself some time in between tasks and appointments to transition and take your time with each task.
Carry Out Tasks Slowly, Mindfully
Slow down. Enjoy what you’re doing. Be in the present. That’s what life is all about – not rushing from one thing to another.
- Eat slowly
- Drive slowly
- Walk slowly
- Live slowly
When we slow down, we give each task, each moment the attention it deserves. Suddenly, things become more enjoyable because we’re not just trying to rush through it just to get to the next one.
We tend to drive so fast that we don’t even see the world around us. We eat so fast, we don’t even taste our food.
Slow down, and enjoy the ride – or the feast.
Do One Thing at a Time
Multi-tasking does nothing to improve your productivity. In fact, it slows you down. We don’t mind taking it slow, but having to concentrate on multiple things at once will only cause more stress.
Do one thing at a time, and focus on doing it well.
Make Time for You
Create time for solitude; time where you can be alone. This time will allow you to let go of the stresses of the day.
You could spend this time sitting quietly, meditating, practicing yoga or just breathing. Do something you love. You will look forward to this time each day.
Give Yourself Permission to Do Nothing
A healthy and happy life is all about balance. When we talk about balance, we rarely think about the concept of doing nothing. Nothing is perceived as a negative way to spend your time.
But if we fill our lives with things to do and never truly have a rest (aside from sleep), we will find it hard to stay balanced mentally, emotionally and physically.
You may have heard the term “dog whisperer before,” but have you ever heard of “the horse whisperer?” Val Heart is the world’s foremost horse whisperer, and she has shown time and time again that there is some validity behind being a horse whisperer.
What is a Horse Whisperer?
Whispering is a concept that sounds far-fetched, but it works. Animal communicators are said to be gifted with the ability to “talk” with animals. Val has been a communicator for almost 20 years, and she has the ability to talk with any animal, but there’s a focus on horses.
Horses that struggle even with the world’s best trainers have found solace thanks to horse whispering.
When problems are not resolved quickly through training methods, horse whispering can help. These problems may include:
- Refusing to go forward
- Nervousness or skittishness
- Biting or nipping
- Running away when approached
- Refusing to load
- Holding head too high
- Pin ears under the saddle
Trainers can attempt to guess what’s going on with a horse, but they often fail to correct these behavioral issues. Horse whisperers have been shown to correct these issues through their communication with the horse.
It’s a practice that has become so popular that people sometimes use international horse transport just to meet with Val for 30 minutes – seriously.
Trainers often assume that the horse has a problem, and when this happens, the trainer will try to correct the behavior no matter how long the horse refuses to perform. Trainers often don’t think that their horses may be experiencing:
- Physical problems
- Emotional problems
- Mental problems
Poor communication is often the cause of the horse’s problems, and when an animal communicator comes into the mix, it’s much easier to help a horse relax and become calm. It’s as much about training a horse as it is explaining what the problem is to the trainer.
When a trainer has direction, they’ll be able to better understand how to cope with the horse’s emotional or mental state.
And for skeptics, the results speak for themselves.
Val Heart is the leading horse whisperer, and she has helped horses reach their peak equine performance. She’s called the “Show Horse Rider’s Secret” because she’s been able to help riders get their horses into the winner’s circle.
Body Language, Behavior and Instinct
Animal communicators often bond with a certain type of animal, such as a horse. The idea is that the whisperer will learn and understand the behaviors of an animal, and they’ll also learn about the natural surroundings, too.
Time and training with an animal leads the communicator to be able to read and understand:
- Ear movements
- Body language
- Lip movements
- Facial expressions
- Tail flicks
Horses can’t speak, but they offer cues and communication that an animal communicator can fully understand. Public demonstrations are often performed with untrained horses to show that the communicator can tame the horse through body language and a deeper understanding of the horse’s behavior.
Trainers often fail to reach this deeper level of understanding with horses that communicators are able to achieve.
But this doesn’t mean that the horse whisperer is performing a trick or a routine. Whisperers use intuition, education and a deeper understanding with the horse to communicate with them. Equine psychology is well understood by the horse whisperer, and a form of partnership is made between the horse and the communicator.
Speaking with the horse allows the communicator to resolve many of the training and behavioral problems that horses have.
A bond between the horse, trainer and rider is formed when everyone understands why the horse is behaving in a certain way.
Heart’s services allow for a professional horse communicator to help train even the most rambunctious of horses. She also offers courses to teach others how to properly become a horse whisperer.
Val works directly with horses and their trainers to break through the “language barrier” with their horses.
Animal whisperers are changing the way that trainers communicate with animals. A simple, in-depth understanding of the animal and why they’re acting a certain way helps train them with greater ease. It’s an almost immediate change in the horse’s behavior that allows them to break through the psychological and mental barrier that trainers view as “stubborn” and “unacceptable” behavior.
Exercise. Love it or loathe it, it’s a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many people are driven by the physical benefits of exercise (weight loss, muscle building, etc.), but exercise also provides mental benefits.
Along with physical health, exercise can help stave off depression, anxiety and stress.
Exercising to De-Stress
Stress is a part of life. Seven out of ten adults in America say they experience stress or anxiety on a daily basis. They also say that this stress and anxiety interferes with their lives in some way.
The de-stressing effects of exercise are well-known. Exercise can reduce fatigue while improving concentration and alertness. Staying active can improve overall cognitive function.
When stress depletes all of your mental and physical energy, this boost can go a long way in helping you get through the day without adding even more stress.
Exercise also provides a mood boost because the body produces endorphins – feel-good chemicals – when you’re active. Exercising also lowers stress hormone levels, including cortisol and adrenaline.
A good exercise session also helps you sleep better, which further helps you combat the effects of stress. Research has found that regular aerobic exercise decreases tension while improving mood, sleep and self-esteem.
The self-esteem boost alone can go a long way in reducing stress, depression and anxiety. The feeling of pride and accomplishment helps support a healthier mindset. With higher energy levels, thanks to exercise, you can get more things done without feeling mentally or physically fatigued. When you’re able to do more and without added stress, you – again – feel more accomplished.
Exercising to Combat Depression
You’ve probably heard the term “runner’s high.” It refers to that euphoric feeling that people often get after a good run or cardio session at the gym. That feeling is triggered by the release of endorphins.
But low-intensity, sustained exercise produces a bit of a different effect. It triggers the release of proteins known as growth factors, which helps form new cells and create new connections.
Research has shown that the hippocampus, the area that controls mood, in the brain is smaller in people who are depressed. Exercise helps trigger new cell growth in the hippocampus, helping to alleviate depression.
The biggest challenge is getting started. For people battling depression, it can be difficult enough to even get out of bed. The thought of running on a treadmill or going for a walk around the block may seem unattainable. On top of all of this, many people may fear the aftermath of working out – pain, soreness, fatigue, etc.
To overcome this problem, start with just five minutes of exercise per day. Work your way up slowly to avoid soreness and pain.
Even just five minutes of activity can produce anti-anxiety effects and help relieve depression symptoms slightly.
When I was suffering with bad anxiety and depression the last thing I want to do was exercise, but now I enjoy my morning workouts at home on my exercise bike from IndoorBiker.co.uk followed by some yoga.
Exercising to Kick Anxiety to the Curb
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults. In fact, anxiety is the most common psychiatric illness in America.
When it comes to the mental effects of exercise, research has shown that a 10-minute walk may be just as effective as a 45-minute workout. That’s great news for people with anxiety. It’s much easier to take a 10-minute walk around the block than to endure a 45-minute workout in a crowded gym.
The effects are temporary, meaning you’ll need to exercise for a longer duration to maximize benefits, but it’s a great starting point for anyone battling anxiety.
Working your way up to a 45- or 60-minute walk, jog, run or strength training session will provide better mental benefits. Research has shown that exercise can help the body better cope with stress. One study found that people who engaged in regular vigorous exercise were 25% less likely to develop anxiety or depression over the next five years.
Exercise may not be the cure for depression and anxiety, but it can go a long way in alleviating symptoms. When coupled with medication and therapy, many people have been able to successfully manage or overcome these issues over time. Persistence and discipline are the keys to success.
If you’re battling anxiety or stress, it’s important to talk to your doctor first before starting a new exercise routine. Physical activity may interfere with the effects of certain medications.