4 Simple Disciplines that Make Your Life Better

by Caroline van Kimmenade

Healthy habits become your new normal over time. With enough positive habits in place, life gets better on auto-pilot. Here are 4 disciplines I believe are very worth cultivating, no matter how good – or how bad – your life is:

Discipline 1: Save to make your life better

Have a savings account with money in it.

How do you get money in it? You set up an auto-transfer. Each month you auto-transfer an amount that fits your income. You set this up to be recurring automatically so that it’s set and forget.

Ideally, the savings account is not one you can super easily withdraw money from. An account that requires transferring your savings back to your regular bank account before you can spend it is ideal. Why? That way, there is reflection time built in. You have to actively decide to withdraw from it and can’t do it on impulse.

At this point, some people will make the case (read: excuse): “But I don’t HAVE any money I could possibly put in savings”

Those same people will say that saving “only” 50 bucks is not worth it.

And then they’ll say that they don’t have the 50 bucks to spend on that thing they say they want.

Look, if your funds are super low, don’t expect that saving money will lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash.

But if you can put away 5 dollars a month – instead of spending it on something dumb, or something you don’t need that’s “only” 5 bucks –  then at the end of the year, that’s 60 dollars you didn’t have before, to spend on something meaningful you couldn’t previously afford.

There have been times in my life when 5 bucks was nothing, and also times when it was meaningful. If you have little money, then treat 5 bucks like the meaningful amount it is. If you have lots of money, then you don’t need to worry about 5 bucks here or there (though, regularly misspent, it can add up!)

Discipline 2: Exercise to make your life better

It’s not about how intensely or impressively. It’s about regularly moving your body.

Don’t have time? Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a block away on purpose and walk the rest. Don’t take your car for distances you could easily walk or cycle. Make a daily walk part of your relaxation routine. Find a fun 10 minute exercise routine on youtube and do it every day.

The real problem is not lacking the time, it’s lacking the habit. Creating a new habit takes effort and many people go “too big” when they do try to add more exercise to their life. They try to commit to a grueling 2 hour workout instead of adding little moments of exercise into their day gradually.

When you go “too big” you might be able to keep it up for a while, but inevitably, you fail. Something comes up: a loved one gets sick, the boss expects overtime, you’re feeling depressed and those two hours of grueling workout now become the punishment you don’t deserve, so you quit.

So keep it small and doable. Try to move every day. Worry less about how “much” you’re doing, just do something. You’re building a healthy habit! Once you have that healthy habit in place, it’s easier to do bigger workouts too.

Discipline 3: Can over Can’t

Decide on what is truly important and look for ways in which you can, instead of can’t! People who get stuck on focusing on how and why they can’t, spend oodles of time and energy throwing around excuses, and/or attacking people who come up with positive suggestions. Or they get jealous and waste their time complaining about other people who “have it easier”.

People who focus on “can” are not people who never say “I can’t”. This is not about making you a yes-person!

However, people who focus on “can” know how to redirect to how they can do something, or what they can do instead. So when they hear something and realize “but, I can’t”… they don’t ruminate on why they can’t and why other people should get that (and how dare those people for not understanding…)

No, instead they accept that there is something they can’t do, and then they ask themselves: o.k. but what can I do instead?

What can you do?

Discipline 4: Notice your Self-talk

Personally, I’m not a big fan of affirmations. Often, affirmations are presented as a kind of miracle healing tool – and they’re not. They don’t heal you. BUT what they can do, is redirect your thinking.

If your self-talk is shitty, then focusing on an affirmation can help you shift your perspective (because the way you actively think helps create your perspective).

When you have an empowered perspective, you can make empowering choices that make your life better. When you have a disempowering perspective because you’re basically telling yourself negative things all day then you will end up making disempowering decisions that “prove” to you how disempowered you are.

Self-fulfilling prophesies are powerful, for good or bad.

P.S. Ready to make your life better one step at a time? Take a look at the Anti-Stress Habits in the Happy Sensitive Library here, for more step-by-step ways to go from Highly Sensitive to (more) Happy Sensitive. When you harness the power of small daily habits, you can take your life to the next level, whether things are tough and bleak, or pretty darn good already.

As a Highly Sensitive Person you get stressed more easily than most people. That means that learning all the ins and outs of stress management makes a big positive difference for the options you have and the way you feel! The Happy Sensitive Library has a bunch of detailed step-by-step resources to lower stress and better understand your own sensitivity.

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