How I Changed My Life for the Better Pt 2

Last week I started describing what exactly has changed in my life. It’s been a lot of little changes. Essentially, it was a change of outlook. I needed to change the way I thought about conflicts, opportunities, and life. I had to adjust my mindset to view everything in a positive way.

Changing my mindset involved taking a real look at what was happening in my life in the moment and figuring out where I wanted to be. All of the changes are just the stepping stones to getting where I want. So, let me continue to tell you about some of those changes.

Exercise

Growing up I was an athlete. I started playing basketball in 6th grade and I played sports up until my junior year of high school. Being active was something I enjoyed and didn’t even know it at the time. Most days I dreaded going to practice because that meant running sprints and lifting weights. Let’s face it, I would have rather been at home watching TV. That attitude followed me into college. My freshman year I worked out every day because that’s what my friends at the time were doing. Sophomore year came around and exercising completely disappeared from my daily schedule.

After a few years of doing nothing, I got a Planet Fitness membership for Christmas. I went to the gym once a week. Ok, I’m not going to lie, I went to the gym once a month. This last summer I moved and my friendships changed. All I wanted was something familiar. Something that wouldn’t change. That was the gym.

Now working out is my go to stress relief, especially when nothing else seems to work. I put in my headphones, throw on some Kanye, and run as hard as I can until I absolutely have to slow down. When I think I can’t go anymore, I convince myself thirty more seconds won’t kill me. Guess what? It doesn’t. Approaching working out with that attitude has changed how I push myself outside of the gym. Why can’t I do this project? Trick question: I can and I will.

Finding a Sanctuary

The gym has become an indoor sanctuary for me. It’s one of the places I feel most like my awkward, authentic, semi-coordinated self. If you were to ask me where I feel most like myself I’d say somewhere up north on the lake. Being near the water, or on it, somewhere where life moves a little bit slower than the bustle of the city is where I’m truly happy. That’s my true sanctuary.

When I lived up north I spent a lot of time driving and stopping at the lake to just think. Mankato doesn’t have a “true” lake. I’ve lived here for four years and I have yet to find a place that is as calming as the lake. A pretty close second has been my car though. As weird as that sounds I spend quite a bit of time in my car driving. In high school, I was the designated driver on almost every road trip my friends and I took. I really love driving. It feels familiar, comforting, and just right.

Finding a sanctuary is important for everyone. It should be a place that’s your own. Somewhere that other people don’t go. Somewhere that the present is what’s truly in focus. There shouldn’t be any worrying about the past. The future should be a distant thought that seems pleasant and full of possibility. Be in the moment because it’s happening now. It’s beautiful. Embrace it.

Reading

Branching off from living in the moment, one of my favorite things to do while in the moment is to read. I’ve always been an avid reader. I used to open up my parents’ bills and read it to them just to have something new to read. I was reading at the level of an eighth grader by the time I was 8 (I got placed in advanced reading). Most of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book or outside riding my bike. More often than not I was riding my bike because somebody told me to take a break from reading.

With college, it’s hard to find free time. The free time I do have I want to spend with friends. Yet, part of me wasn’t fully satisfied. I missed reading. It’s not like I wasn’t reading at all (hello finance textbook), I just wasn’t reading for my own personal entertainment.

So I decided that every night before I go to bed if I don’t immediately pass out from exhaustion, I was going to read. It’s actually helped me to fall asleep. It distracts me from my anxious thoughts about how much of my to-do list I never finished and how tomorrow I have to work 10 hours and somehow get my business law discussion done. I find myself actually being more creative. I’m not sure if that’s a direct correlation or not, but having a story to think about in the middle of the day that isn’t related to my immediate life is a nice break from, well, life. Also, this reading for fun has allowed me to catch up on all the magazines I had laying around.

Side note: A special thank you to Katrina, Logan, and Zacharias for loaning me books to read. You’re the real MVPs.

Don’t choose reading as a way to relax if you hate reading. Just think back to your childhood. What did you spend the most time doing for fun? Are you still doing that? If not, why? Maybe you should start doing it again.

Tis the set of the sails and not the gales which tells us the way to go.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This is how I changed my life. Feel free to try what I did, but it probably won’t have the same effect on you. Every person has individual wants, needs, passions, and goals to fulfill. What you may need in your life won’t be the same as what the person next to you needs. If you truly want your life to change for the better, to wake up and feel motivated and inspired to go about your day, you need to do the hard work first.

I wish creating the life I wanted was as easy as driving on the road. Just stay in the lane, stop when there’s a red sign, turn with the yellow arrows, and keep moving forward. Change is never like that though. There is no road map. It’s a jungle that’s waiting to be explored and the first person to discover it is you. It’ll be hard to get through, but once you do, it’s the most rewarding feeling.
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Seriously, I could talk about embracing life, filling it with positivity, and how change is great for hours. That’s how excited and in love with my life I am. And I hope, if you aren’t there yet, you have the courage to try to get there.

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.

—Mess in Progress has been a great outlet for me and I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts! Follow me for weekly email updates! Comment and let me know what you think about making changes for the better! Contact me, let’s grab coffee, and discuss our messy, beautiful lives.

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