We live in a world with many options and we constantly have to make choices throughout the day. Should I sleep in or go to the gym this morning? Should I have an extra slice of cake? My job is sucking my soul–what should I do?
Sometimes, the right choice is the healthier choice that we know will benefit us in the long run. But it can be difficult to make at the time, especially if there’s an easier option on the table. How do we shift our thinking about our choices so that we can more confidently and proactively choose the better option for our wellbeing?
There are two ways that we can think about cultivating a mental shift to make healthier choices.
The first thing we can do is change the way we think about the act of making choices itself. When confronted with a choice, rather than thinking about choosing the healthier option as the harder choice that requires a lot of self-discipline, we can think about this choice as an opportunity to choose the healthier option as an active expression of self-love.
For example, let’s say you really enjoy scrolling through social media on your phone right before bed but you also know that doing so makes it hard for you to fall asleep. You can think about putting your phone away an hour before you go to sleep as an opportunity to invest in a better quality night’s rest. Maybe you even use that hour to practice self-care by meditating, reading a book, or journaling. Then, you can set yourself up to get a good night’s sleep and be ready to take on the day when you wake up.
Small choices like this can be an opportunity to show ourselves how good and thoughtful we want to be to ourselves. Beauty Heroes founder, Jeannie Jarnot, said it best for Thoughtfully Magazine:
“I believe that self-love is the key…When our hearts are full, we look less to the outside world for fulfillment, whether it’s through overeating, overspending, or overthinking. For example, I can definitely overeat my way through life. However, if I look at my diet and how much I eat as an act of self-love, I am inclined to eat much healthier. I can also overthink my way through challenging situations, but if I turn inward and make a conscious decision to trust myself, my overthinking subsides. True self-love is a moment-to-moment practice that never ends.”
By approaching choices as a chance to do right by ourselves, we can more easily make choices that we know are healthier and can feel inspired by our own self-loving discipline.
Taking this perspective allows us to shift away from “healthy” approaches that might actually fuel unhealthy behaviors like over-exercising, obsessive dieting, or exhausting yourself from doing too much. Make your healthy choices from a place a true self-love.
The second way we can think about making healthier choices is focused around doing things for which our future selves will thank us. How do we make choices right now, here in the present moment, that will actually benefit us in the future? In order words, how do we align our present selves with our future selves?
The first part of answering this question is having an understanding of who we want to be. Who does this future-self look like? What are her priorities? What kind of lifestyle is she living? Who is she surrounded by? How does she spend her time, and how does she define happiness?
These are all deeply personal questions and the answers are different for each individual, but if we can each define even just a piece of this question of who we want to be, then we are able to make choices that help us become that person.
And so when we are faced with a challenging situation, we understand why we are choosing one option over the over: it’s because that choice, as small or as large as it may be, is helping us take one more step towards becoming that person we have in our minds. Not only can we visualize who we have the potential to become but we become that person by actively choosing the things that help us become her.
The hope is that over time, those choices that once seemed challenging to make become easier, partially because we have made them so many times. And when this happens, we go from having to make a healthy choice repeatedly to having built a healthy habit. As we continue to build healthy habits, we start to lead healthier lifestyles. So rather than having to grapple with turning off social media an hour before going to sleep, you naturally just decide to choose the healthier option and that frees up our energy and brain space to take on even larger and more complex challenges.
A colleague recently explained her strategy for handling work stress and roadblocks. She has a five-year career plan mapped out and her current job is critical to gaining the skill sets and experiences needed to be successful in the role she wants to be doing in the future. And so when she’s having a particularly rough day or someone is being extra difficult and she’s sitting there asking herself why in the world she’s putting up with all of this nonsense, she has an answer: it’s because overcoming this challenge right here, right now is going to help her get to where she wants to be. She has this visualization in her mind of what she looks like in five years and that fuels her motivation to make tough choices and endure the tough times.
Reconnect to your why and it will be a lot easier to make those hard but healthy choices.
Who do you want to be in five years and what choices can you make to become that person? How can you shower yourself with self-love in all the small and large decisions you make every day? Share with us in the comments below!
Originally published at www.spireandco.com