10 top ten lists to live well, be kind, and get happy
A LIST OF LISTS
Okay, I’ll be honest—they aren’t all lists of 10, some are 7 or 9, or 100 (so sue me)—but I’m betting they will all offer incremental improvement in some area of your life. Below you’ll find suggestions and resources in the realms of: mindfulness, simplifying, happiness, communication, wholehearted living, health, diet, productivity, money, and climate change. Forget Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, this is like one-stop shopping for a better you and a better world…how cool is that?
Developing practices for paying attention to what is happening in the present moment can decrease stress, increase focus, support wellbeing, and help us get more satisfaction and joy from our lives. Here’s 10 Tips for Being Mindful Right Now from Mindful Magazine, including; focus on the breath, notice what you’re doing, walk attentively, be rather that do, less thinking more breathing, don’t get caught up in thoughts, listen, discover when you zone out, get back to nature, and do less judging.
If you look around your home or office and experience a sense of impending doom, rather than a sense of calm and ease, then you might want to focus on this list. This one originates from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and what I love is that she encourages you to surround yourself with only the things that bring you joy and help you to embody who you are now (not who you used to be or think you might be in the future.) You’ll find a great summary of her simple simplifying process on Dr. Christiane Northrup’s site: 7 Tips to Organize Your Home Using the KonMari Method.
We all want to be happy, right? Well, here are some well-researched, accessible, and time-tested ways to increase your happy quotient right away. The organization Action for Happiness uses the acronym, GREAT DREAM as a way to help us remember these 10 Keys to Happier Living: Giving, Relating, Exercising, Awareness, Trying Out, Direction, Resilience, Emotions, Acceptance, Meaning.
One of the best ways to avoid confusion in relationships, whether at home or at work, is to learn how to deliver “whole messages.” This concept is outlined in a terrific book called Messages: The Communication Skills Book, but if you’re tight for time then check out this short presentation by Talent Futures that leads you through the Four Steps to a Whole Message Model. To avoid confusion: state what you observe (stick to the facts), explain what that led you to think (the story you told in your head), outline what you feel (use I statements to describe your emotions), and ask for what you want (to stop or continue in the moment.)
5) WHOLEHEARTED LIVING
Brené Brown has authored some fantastic books about how to embrace your vulnerability and live with greater courage and compassion, including Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. (If you haven’t checked these out, I’d recommend dropping everything and getting on that right now.) Not to be outdone by all the other top ten lists out there, Brown assembled 10 Guideposts for Whole Hearted Living, which artist Leonie Dawson turned into that snazzy infographic. You can read about the process for implementing these ideas in Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.
Emerging research has shown that we can reduce the risk of many diseases (including Alzheimer’s) and leverage our brain (and overall) health by attending to six key areas in our lives. These holistic steps are outlined in detail in by Rudolph Tanzi and Deepak Chopra in their book, The Healing Self: A Revolutionary New Plan to Supercharge Your Immunity and Stay Well for Life. In this interview, Dr. Tanzi expands on the acronym and describes the Six Steps to SHIELD: Sleep 8 Hours, Handle Stress, Interact with Others, Exercise, Learn Something New, Diet.
7) EAT MORE PLANTS
Okay, tell the truth…who among us doesn’t wake up in the morning with their first thought being, “How can I be more like Beyoncé?” Alright, maybe not everyone, but whether you’re speaking with a physician, a climate scientist, or a humanitarian—they will all tell you that one of the most powerful things that we can each do to improve our health, decrease our impact on global warming, and reduce unnecessary suffering in the world is to eat a “plant-forward” diet. That is, if not to eliminate meat entirely from our menus, then to emphasize them on our plates. So, check out this hip article by James Colquohoun, 10 Reasons to Eat More Plants Like Beyoncé, where you’ll discover that veggies aren’t just for single ladies.
8) BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
Ironically in these busy times and our busy lives one of the ways to reduce our stress is to get more efficient at doing what needs doing. If you’ve got the same list of action items, but you get them done with an hour (or two) to spare—then maybe you could have a nap, call your mom, go for a walk, sit down to eat, visit the loo, be more creative, or just congratulate yourself and stare off into space. Whatever your motivations and goals, here’s 10 Incredibly Easy Ways to Improve Your Productivity from Noma Nazish, including: take regular breaks, eat the frog, learn to single task, follow the ‘two minute rule,’ plan each day the night before, take advantage of your commute, get organized, eliminate digital distractions, make a not-to-do list, and get enough zzz’s.
Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez wrote the New York Times Bestseller called Your Money or Your Life: Nine Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence (now in its forth edition.) They suggest that money (whether we’re earning it or spending it) is a measure of our life energy—and that being conscious of how we use that precious resource is the key to both wellbeing and financial independence. The book also encourages us to examine whether our expenditure of life energy is in alignment with our own values and life purpose. Does that peak your interest? Check out this detailed summary of this terrific book and the Nine Magical Steps to Create a New Roadmap.
10) CLIMATE CHANGE
These 100 Solutions were developed to maximize the planetary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, hence the ambitious title of the book—Project Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming. Some of these ideas are meant to be implemented by corporations and countries in their policies and practices, but there’s good info here for you and me as well. In addition to choosing wind and solar energy you’ll find reducing food waste and eating a plant-rich diet sitting in the top ten. Broader initiatives include refrigerant management, protecting tropical forests, using silvopasture, and empowering women and girls through education and family planning. And, as a bonus, here’s Ten Personal Solutions to Global Warming from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Tips on How to Lessen Your Impact on the Environment from the World Wide Fund for Nature.