Probably the most important component to demanding your joy is learning to take excellent care of yourself – mind, body, and spirit. Think of caring for yourself as if you were your own child –giving to yourself at least as much as you give to others. You are worth it!
Like joy itself, self-nurturing comes in many little bits. Here are 100 of those bits for your consideration. This is not a checklist – only a list of suggestions. Please take the ones that speak to you and ignore the rest. Enjoy!
1. Put a post-it on your mirror that says, “You look beautiful!” – and then accept the compliment every time you look at yourself.
2.Buy fresh flowers every now and then – Brighten up the place.
3.Used colored pens for no particular reason – Blue and black are fine, but how about orange?
4.Take a walk without a destination – It’s a great way to get some exercise and clear your mind. Be mindful of what you see, hear and feel.
5.Take a hot bath – With bubbles.
6.Write in a journal – Write anything that calls you. Ideas, experiences, dreams, frustrations – get them out of your head and down on paper.
7.List the things that you’re grateful for – You can’t help but feel better when you literally count your blessings.
8.List the things that you like about yourself – We can all list the things that we don’t like about ourselves. Turn that around and think about your many positive qualities.
9.Create something – Many of us have gotten away from actually making things. Create some artwork. Write something. Build something. Make something that didn’t exist before. It can be functional or frivolous – as long as you enjoy the process.
10.Treat yourself – We struggle to be disciplined, especially with money and food. You deserve a reward, right?
11.Smile – It’s very difficult to feel bad when your face is happy.
12.Squash negative thoughts – Listen to what’s going on in your head and actively quiet the voices of pessimists and critics. Assume the best, not the worst.
13.Try something new – Go out on a limb. Learn something new. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to try. The more experiences you have, the richer your life will be.
14.Get enough sleep – Everything is hard when you’re tired.
15.Meditate – It takes a little practice at first, but if you find a meditation that works for you, you will be calmer and more peaceful.
16.Drink plenty of water – It’s basic, but it’s so good for you.
17.Stretch – Before you start your day, take a few minutes for a good muscle stretch. It just plain feels good. And, it’s fast, easy and free.
18.Put some “me time” on your calendar – When life gets busy, doing things for yourself is the first thing to be sacrificed. So, actually block out time on your calendar. Call it a ‘staff meeting’ or something so that no one intrudes on your time.
19.Call a friend – Think of someone who you enjoy and ring them up!
20.Ask for help – This can be hard. But it’s so important to recognize when you need a sounding board, or some advice, or an extra pair of hands.
21.Say no – Your time is valuable. Set boundaries to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
22.Ask for a hug – We all need one. So just go get one. The person you ask probably needs one too.
23.Delegate – Hire someone to mow the lawn or scrub the floors. Teach the kids to do laundry. Give that project to a co-worker. You do not have to do it all.
24.Take a deep breath – And another. Now another. It’s like a mini-break to reset yourself during the day.
25.Light a candle or use a reed diffuser – Your sense of smell creates the strongest memories. Find scents you love and enjoy them.
26.Claim some space for yourself – A place where you can go to have a quiet moment to read a book, or meditate, or cry – somewhere that you can get some peace and privacy.
27.Get out into nature – Reconnecting with the earth is just good for your soul. Feel the breeze. Breathe the fresh air. So good!
28.Buy the good ice cream – Even on the tightest of budgets, this is important.
29.Use lotions & soaps with scents that you love – It’s a nice way to pamper yourself, plus you’ll smell good all day.
30.Give a compliment – Telling someone that they had a fantastic idea or that they look beautiful in that color creates a pleasant environment and makes two people feel good for the price of one.
31.Listen to music – Listen to whatever makes you happy. Can you be grumpy while listening to Gloria Gaynor? I think not.
32.Play – Something we forget as adults. A board game, a sport, finger painting – find something frivolous and have fun!
33.Eat foods that you love – Low fat, low calorie, low carb – blah, blah, blah. Food is to be enjoyed! Put food into your body that nourishes you in every way.
34.Be silly every now and again – We take ourselves entirely too seriously. Let go. Be spontaneous and outrageous!
35.Laugh – Sometimes you just need a good laugh to lift your spirits.
36.Limit screen time – Too much time in front of computers, TV’s, video games, and blackberries (or all of the above) disconnects you from the world immediately around you and makes your brain mushy. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of input from the non-virtual world.
37.Be present – Be deliberate about experiencing what’s happening right now. It’s all about the journey – don’t miss yours!
38.Stop worrying – It’s going to be fine. Because it is.
39.Trust yourself – You are smart, capable and talented. Your choices are just as valid as anyone else’s. Don’t second guess yourself.
40.Do something that’s only for you – Remember that hobby that you used to have time for? Or that food that no one else in your house likes? Reclaim it.
41.Make sure your health is in order – What’s more important than your health? See your doctor regularly. Make sure you are getting the vitamins or supplements that you need. Advocate for yourself as you would for your child.
42.Give to someone in need – Donating your time or your stuff or your money to someone less fortunate makes you feel good and puts your problems into perspective.
43.Sparkle! – Feeling schlumpy? Get all dolled up. Wear something schmancy. It’s a good way to find your strut.
44.Dance – It’s inherently joyful. You can’t be sad if you’re dancing!
45.Write your own rock star introduction – Image you’re on tour with thousands of screaming fans. How will you be introduced? “Please welcome the brilliant, the amazing, the gorgeous….you!”
46.Stand up for yourself – Your needs are important. Don’t let anyone disregard them. Pushing back can be scary but it’s empowering too!
47.Celebrate! (for any reason at all) – Your kid learned to tie his shoes! Your taxes are done and filed! The week is more than half over! Let’s party!
48.Find a mantra or an affirmation that lifts your spirits – “Today is a new day.” “I know that life always supports me.” “I get everything that I want.” Find one that works for you.
49.Stand tall – Your spirit can’t soar when you slouch. You feel much more powerful when you stand up straight and look the world in the eye.
50.Have sex – What can I say? It feels good.
51.Get a massage – What can I say? It feels good.
52.Choose optimism – Thinking positive thoughts has a tangible impact on your day and on your life.
53.Dream big – You can do anything you set your mind to!
54.Tune out the naysayers – People criticize for many reasons, most of which have nothing to do with you. Follow your heart – not everyone has to get it.
55.Add color to your surroundings – Beiges and taupes are pervasive these days. Depressing. Make sure that you introduce energetic colors where you work and where you live.
56.Surround yourself with the things you love – Photos of loved ones or mementos that bring happy memories. You should have the stuff that you love all around you.
57.Declutter – You should have ONLY the stuff that you love. Purge everything in your life, both physical and emotional that you don’t honestly need, use or love. Everything else distracts you from your true intentions and bogs you down.
58.Stop procrastinating – Procrastination is a form of perfectionism. Accept that it’s not going to be perfect and just get it over with. Image how great it will feel to not have it hanging over your head any more!
59.Listen to your inner voice – Your instincts are good. It’s important to listen to your own head and heart.
60.Cut yourself some slack – Arguably the most important tip on this list. We hold ourselves to impossible standards and then beat ourselves up when we don’t meet them. Would you be this hard on anyone else?
61.Slow down – When you’re living your life at top speed, you’re missing most of it. Stop and take a breath. Look for ways to adopt a more humane pace.
62.Identify your passion – What do you love? Do you have a non-profit organization that you feel passionate about? Are you passionate about water polo? How about 14th century Portuguese literature? Find something in your life that really floats your boat.
63.Toot your own horn – You’re awesome. Please make sure that everyone knows it.
64.Move your body – Run and jump and climb a tree. Take a tap dancing class. Power walk. Anything that feels good that gets your blood moving. The only limitation: it has to be fun. Don’t get on a treadmill if you hate the treadmill.
65.Invest in really good bras – This one is gender-specific, obviously. You feel much better about yourself when you’re hoisted up properly. So stand tall and salute the sun ladies!
66.Purge things that aren’t good for you – Unhealthy foods, cigarettes, a miserable work environment, toxic people – do what you have to do to set boundaries and demand the highest quality of life. You deserve it. Things that don’t nourish and support you – think about how you might be rid of them.
67.Limit your news consumption – It’s important to be well-informed, but the non-stop feed of earthquakes and plane crashes and economic crisis and war is not good for us. Be deliberate in finding a balance that’s best for you. Once you’ve seen today’s news cycle, turn it off.
68.Say yes to life – Opportunities are everywhere. Take a class, join a team, go bungee jumping. When new things present themselves to you – jump at the chance.
69.Stop hating your body – If the women of the world took all of the time, energy and money that we spend on hating our bodies and turned it towards something productive, there would be no war, poverty or disease left on the planet. Your body is your body. Nobody’s looking at your physical flaws because they’re all too busy trying to hide their own. Let’s give ourselves a break and let it go.
70.Sing loudly – In the shower and the car and anywhere else you like. With reckless abandon.
71.Be kind – Be nice to someone else. You will have made the world a better place. What feels better than that?
72.Tell someone you love them – We often forget to say it out loud. It matters.
73.Take all of your vacation days. – You earned them. Don’t give them back to your company for nothing.
74.Play hooky – Call in sick once in awhile when you’re not sick. Use the day to pamper yourself (not to catch up on errands or housework).
75.Take pride in the hard times that you have overcome – What didn’t kill you made you stronger. It wasn’t easy, but you did it!
76.Let someone else be in charge for a while – Other people can be responsible while you do something for yourself.
77.Don’t answer the phone unless it’s someone you want to talk to right now – Some people find it difficult not to answer a ringing phone, but it’s liberating once you learn to ignore it or even better, just turn it off.
78.Have faith – It’s going to work out. The future is bright!
79.Take a personal inventory – Does your behavior match your true intentions? If there’s a disconnect, you’re carrying a heavy weight.
80.Go on a retreat – For a couple of minutes or a couple of days, get away for a bit to re-energize.
81.Put your finances in order – Money problems are enormously stressful. Paying off debt where possible, putting bills on automatic payment, and working with a financial planner if necessary can all help to ease the strain.
82.Eliminate all expectations of perfection – In fact, eliminate the word ‘perfect’ from your vocabulary. If you expect yourself to be perfect, you will never stop beating yourself up.
83.Find a good way to blow off steam – Bottling it up indefinitely will probably end badly.
84.Be who you are – your authentic, true self.
85.Spend some time alone for quiet reflection – We spend all of our time go, go, going. Try stopping to think about your life, your goals, and your dreams.
86.Keep your words positive – Happiness and complaints cannot coexist.
87.Let light and fresh air into your house – Sunlight is a must. Open up those windows!
88.Turn off your e-mail, cell phone, blackberry, fax, etc. for a while – It’s not healthy to be accessible 24/7.
89.Pare down your to-do list – Feeling overwhelmed? What’s on your list that can be delegated, avoided, or jettisoned?
90.Avoid boredom – Keep your brain active to keep the blues at bay.
91.Make your home a haven – Your home should be a place where you can take a breath and really relax. If it isn’t, you may have some work to do.
92.Be stingy with your time and energy – Both are precious and should be spent on things that really matter to you.
93.Let go – 80% of everything is irrelevant. Focus on the other 20.
94.Minimize multi-tasking – Yeah, women are supposed to be good at it, but that doesn’t make it good for us.
95.Break your routine once in awhile – Get out of a rut and into a groove.
96.Take action! – If something isn’t right in your life, fix it!
97.Plan ahead – With a few minutes of organizing your time and to-do’s, you will be better prepared to take on the day.
98.Intentionally enjoy your journey – As you go through your days, look around. Be present with what you see, hear and feel. You might be amazed at what you’ve been missing.
99.Spend time with people who make you happy – Who nourishes and supports you? Surround yourself with those people.
100.Enjoy your kids – It’s easy to rush through the day without really connecting with them. Make a conscious effort to talk with them about their day.
101.Avoid self-deprivation – When it comes to food, it’s OK to cut back on things that aren’t good for you (sweet, sweet carbohydrates), but if you feel deprived, it’s probably not maintainable, creating a vicious circle of cheating and guilt.
102.Forget the word “should” – Instead of doing what you think you’re supposed to, follow your own path.
103.Pay attention to your energy – Are you most productive first thing in the morning? Are you sluggish after lunch? Honor your natural cycles and plan accordingly.
OK, that’s more than 100. I got carried away.
About The Author
After earning her MBA and climbing the corporate ladder in the financial services industry for more than a decade, Meg Davies came to the hard realization that she was on the wrong path. She got off the ladder and refocused her energy and experience on her true passion, helping women to nurture their spirits and live their true intentions.
Meg publishes a blog, Demanding Joy. By celebrating the wisdom of women and focusing attention on gratitude for the things that nurture us, Meg hopes to snag as many bits of happiness as we can all cram into our lives.
Visit Megs website: www.demandingjoy.com