Joyful Purpose

>> Sunday

When I want to improve my mood, I always look first for something in my complete control. Purposeful action is the best one. I can decide on a purpose and I can take actions toward that purpose. It doesn't depend on circumstances or the moods of others. Doing something purposeful is a self-reliant way to reliably raise your mood.

Think of one small goal you really want. And it's really important you think of something you want. You could do things you should do all day long, completing task after task, but if there's no juice in it, all that accomplishment won't raise your mood. (Well, that's not entirely true. If you have something worrying you or something you're dreading, and you get it done, it can be a relief.) But for the real enjoyment, you need: 1) something you want to accomplish, that 2) you enjoy accomplishing.

If all you're doing is the drudgery, thinking that "some day" you'll get around to doing the stuff you love, you can really improve your ongoing mood to add even a little of something you really want to accomplish.

So that's your assignment. Do a little of your joyful purpose today, or if the day is almost done, then start tomorrow. Think of something you really want to do that you really like to do, and get a little of it done.

And try to do a little every day. It will add a lot of fine feeling for a small amount of effort, and that good mood will linger. You'll get the benefit of anticipating it, enjoying it while it's happening, and feeling the lingering satisfaction afterwards.

If you want to get in shape, and you love to exercise, work some into your day today. Even a little bit. For me, I love to read. So I try to work in at least a little reading every day, and it boosts my mood even into the next day. I think about what I learned and I try things out, experimenting with the ideas. I share things with others, and it makes me happy.

What is it for you? Do just a little today.

If you would like to read more about this, here are two good (and short) articles:

The Ocelot Blues
A Lasting State Of Feeling Great

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot.

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Fasting Is Good For Your Health

>> Tuesday

I have fasted for three days (twice). I have fasted quite a few times for just one day and once for two days. And even though fasting is sometimes difficult, it has improved my mood overall, and the research seems to indicate it improved my health too.

A study in Utah found that those who fasted one day per month were 40 percent less likely to have clogged arteries. That's a pretty big difference.

Almost always, if something is good for your health, it's also good for your mood, and this is no exception. If you've never tried it, I recommend a simple one-day fast.

Do it on a day off (you may not feel very energetic). Don't eat anything at all from the time you get up in the morning until the following morning. Don't drink anything except water, and drink plenty of water. You will be thirsty. Don't do a lot of strenuous activity. Just take it easy and relax, but keep yourself busy on tasks that don't require a lot of physical energy.

If you normally drink coffee, stop drinking it a few days before your fast so you are over your withdrawals before you begin fasting.

At times, fasting doesn't feel good, but it is surprisingly easy, even for someone like me who usually never even considers skipping a meal. Occasionally throughout a fasting day, you'll feel really hungry. And then it goes away and you get involved in what you're doing and forget about food.

The most amazing thing is how much time you have when you're fasting. A day without food seems twice as long, and not because you're suffering. It's because food preparation and eating the food takes a lot of time.

Anyway, I recommend it. You'll appreciate food more in the days following a fast, you'll be in a better mood, and you'll be healthier.

Read more about it: Fasting and Health.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot

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Lower Stress: The Top Seven Ways

>> Friday

A certain amount of stress is a good thing. But too much is bad for your health, bad for your relationships, and no fun. If you feel you're experiencing too much stress, use one of these to help lower your stress level:

1. Compare your situation to something worse. This is an easy mental action that can have a measurable impact on your feeling of stress.

2. Reduce the number of goals you're trying to accomplish. It is a common human tendency to continually increase the number of projects and goals you've decided to accomplish. You're not trying to add more goals. They just naturally tend to accumulate. To keep yourself from becoming buried in projects and overwhelmed, sort through your goals once in awhile and give up on some of them.

3. Make more money. The lack of money can obviously cause stress. If you can make more money without adding more stress, you'll be better off.

4. Get a dog. Having a dog measurably reduces your daily stress level, which has a greater impact on your health and mood than even deeply relaxing once in a while.

5. Meditate. Meditation is easier than most people realize. You don't have to "become a meditator" to benefit. You can do it once in awhile when you feel you need it, and you'll relieve yourself of stress.

6. Use Benjamin Franklin's technique for difficult decisions. Hard decisions can be stressful, and the lack of forward motion caused by indecision can be even more stressful. Franklin's technique will ease the strain of making difficult decisions and help you get moving forward again.

7. Take good care of yourself first. When you're taking care of others, it can be so time-consuming, you stop spending any effort taking care of yourself. This is not only unhealthy, it will ultimately impair your ability to take care of others by reducing your energy and perhaps even affecting your health.

Look at this list and find the principle you feel is most blatantly missing in your life. Follow the link, read the article, and take action starting today. It will lower your stress and improve your mood.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

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Feel good more often and become more effective with your actions. Check it out on Amazon: Self-Help Stuff That Works.

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