4 Ways to Improve Your Life Today (Without Spending a Dime)

Posted by   Annette on    December 1, 2014

My friend Mara Schmid -- athlete, writer and Editor-in-Chief of Hussy Magazine -- is very good at living. When asked what her best strategies are for overcoming the sticky bugaboos that work in concert to dismantle the best parts of our lives, she had instant answers.

Here's what she has to say.


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Before you sign your life away for vague promises, try these. Here are four no-sign-up-required methods to turn your life in a better direction -- with no monthly automatic draft.

1. Notice nature more.

Whether it’s bias, filter, or habit, often we notice the manmade things that surround us much more than the nature in-between.

When was the last time you looked at the birds-of-paradise outside your office, rather than at a clock or a screen? When was the last time you looked at a tree, just to see how strong the wind was blowing -- or took time to relish the shifting shadows that the clouds cast on the mountains?

It shouldn’t take take a spectacular beach-vacation sunset to make us remember the beauty in which we live. Whether you’re in a field of wildflowers or the citiest of cities, expand your view.

2. Make your peace with the between.

If you’re an action-oriented person like I am, the between can be a very uncomfortable place. The spaces between are uncomfortable: waiting on hold; compulsively checking email for word from that inscrutable recruiter; wondering where a relationship is going; fussing that a train won't make the scheduled arrival.

Remember: it’s okay to be neither here nor there.

Make your peace with the discomfort, and you may find you’re not uncomfortable after all. And if you are, that’s all right too. Don't add to the unease unnecessarily. 

3. Change the narrative to positive.

You’re almost certainly a good, kind person to others, mostly—but, oftentimes, the narrative in your head doesn't match. Our culture and media howl with a cacophony of nasty, mean-spirited narratives, tending to shunt the flow of our thoughts down a decidedly negative path—toward that person who just cut you off, toward that cashier who is taking FOREVER to check you out—and, discouragingly often, toward yourself.

The next time you find yourself with a mean, personal, racist, sexist, or just plain furious little thought, take a deep breath and flip it around. Force yourself to think something kind, generous, and positive toward whoever or whatever set you off. Rewrite the script. (Here are some other good strategies to employ.)

4. Reclaim your sense of wonder.

A little perspective can go a long way toward awe. You’re a package of blood and bones and meat, driving a contraption of rubber and plastic and metal at historically unimaginable speeds, while listening to beautiful sounds that were created and captured and transmitted using technology more complicated than any one person has time to truly understand...

And you're doing this while hurtling through the universe on a tiny rock containing kittens and oceans and ice cream and other packages of blood and bones and meat that you love. You’re here for uncounted seconds, and it’s only the flash of one life. One life—big and small and tragic and hilarious and mundane and ecstatic.

And it’s all yours.

So go and claim it.