Alright, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that you are already the best version of yourself! In this moment, at this time, at this exact point in your life, you are the best version of you that you can be! So congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back! The potentially (depending on your viewpoint) bad news is that you are already the best version of yourself. Confusing? Stay with us.
This has been a pretty hard concept for us to grasp, and it’s not always easy for people to hear. In today’s society we are constantly told how we have control over our lives and over our choices. And with this comes a feeling of empowerment, especially when we make the “right” choices. But alongside that also comes feeling of guilt and shame and “I should have done better” when we make the wrong choices.
Do we have control when it comes to our choices?
Here’s the problem with the idea of having control over the choices we make. Consciously, yes, we can be aware of the ‘right’ choice and seemingly choose it or not. But what is really driving that choice is our subconscious (the part of our mind we’re not aware of). Our subconscious makes up anywhere from 90-99% of our mind, leaving only 1-10% left for our conscious mind! So when you say to yourself “why did I do that?! I know better!”, what you’re really saying is “the conscious 10% of my mind knew better.” We certainly can’t be expected to make decisions that are in our best interests all of the time, when we’re only working with a tiny percentage of our mind!
There’s so much more to say on that topic that it deserves its own blog post. But I wanted to start with that because so often I think there is a feeling of blame and guilt surrounding our choices. Just think, in a typical day you might: eat a cookie/treat, get angry at your kids or spouse, and watch a few episodes of TV. You might feel ashamed that you cheated on your diet, angry at yourself for losing your temper, and guilty that you watched TV instead of being productive. And I can bet most people go through feelings like that many, many times a day. What a way to live your life! Feeling like you are not doing a good enough job and you need to be better. Literally feeling like you are not enough.
Let’s work on that!
Keep in mind that day to day, moment to moment, things change in our lives. Our moods, our perceptions, our attitudes. Learn to go easy on yourself and know that you’re doing your best in every single moment. And know that it’s also possible to do better in the next moment. So here’s a few tips on how to (gently and lovingly) try and be the best version of you!
#1 : Eat foods that serve you
We can only take in so much food in a day. Wow, we take up a lot of that space with foods that don’t serve us! Imagine that everything you put into your body is fuel-it’s what gives you energy, a clear head, physical health, joyful moods, etc. Now imagine if you fill your tank with a bunch of junk-processed foods, sugars, artificial additives, lack of variety. How would you feel? Probably sluggish, foggy, bloated, and a bit down. Yuck! But if we fill our tanks with goodness-fresh, colourful fruits and veggies, a variety of grains and lentils, *non-industrialized* meats, eggs, homemade meals. We would feel pretty great! You wouldn’t put diesel into a car with a gas tank hoping it would work. A gas car needs gas. A diesel car needs diesel. While our bodies won’t shut down as fast as a car would with the wrong fuel in it, we don’t function at an optimal level.
Now of course this is easier said than done. That’s why I prefaced this list with the understanding that our subconscious drives our choices. Because I believe that everyone knows, intuitively, what food serves them. They might not know all the details, like what exact nutrients they’re getting or the serving size or what exact ingredients make something packaged unhealthy. But if I put a carrot and a doughnut in from of a large group, 99% (or more) would say the carrot is a healthier choice. But clearly we don’t all make the decision to eat the carrot. And if we do make that decisions, we probably don’t consistently make it day after day, year after year. Even if we do consistently make it, we likely don’t make it happily, and probably still have a desire to choose the doughnut instead.
Decide to start
The first tip I have for you to actually start choosing that foods that serving you, is to just start. Doesn’t sound like much, but just as unhealthy eating is a vicious cycle, so is healthy eating (but more loving than vicious). When you put goodness into your body you feel good. When you feel good you’re motivated to continue feeling good. And you will continue to make the choices that made you feel that way!!
I notice this cycle the most with water. If I haven’t been drinking a lot of water, then I don’t crave water or reach for it. But if I can drag myself out of the unhealthy cycle and make myself drink a litre, all of a sudden I’m right back on track without having to think about it again! My head feels clearer, I’m actually thirsty, and I start reaching for my water again.
#2 : If you choose foods that don’t serve you best, enjoy them!
This is one of my favourite points, and one I recently realized that I’ve been saying to myself for over ten years! I remember being 16 and cutting weight for a wrestling tournament. I said to myself “If I’m going to cheat, I’m going to cheat right!” Now I have a slightly different perspective on it, but the message is the same.
Let’s go back to the doughnut and carrot example. Here’s some scenarios that might occur depending on which one you choose:
- The carrot: You know that choosing the carrot is the best decision, but you really want the doughnut. You’re craving the doughnut the rest of the day. You feel angry that you had to eat a boring carrot instead of a delicious doughnut.
- The carrot: You feel so great that you chose a carrot over a doughnut. You’re putting the doughnut out of your mind and focus on how beneficial this carrot is for you. You eat it and feel happy and satisfied.
- The doughnut: You just can’t help yourself and you eat the doughnut. You feel so guilty because you know it’s unhealthy and you’re ashamed that you don’t have any willpower. After you finish it, you wish you hadn’t eaten it.
- The doughnut: You savour every bit of the doughnut. You understand that sometimes you just need a doughnut! When you are finished you feel satisfied and happy that you got to enjoy a treat today.
Which choices do you think we should make?
You can see that choices 1 and 3 bring up all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings. Guilt, shame, fear, resentment. Regardless of whether you’re eating something healthy or unhealthy, is that how you’d like to spend your day? Feeling guilty that you ate something bad? Or feeling resentful that you can’t eat what you really want? You can eat a perfect diet which might mean wonderful physical health, but at what cost to your mental and emotional health?
Whereas choices 2 and 4 are choices made with joy and kindness. You can eat your food with joy and be kind to yourself in the process. What a more loving, fun way to live life!
Awareness is key
Now again, I know it’s not always easy. We are so programmed to feel bad when we eat unhealthy food, yet we certainly don’t always feel good when we healthy food.
How I like to approach this is to take a step back and be aware of your food choices, and then eat with intention. When you grab a doughnut on the go and eat it without thinking, you more often feel guilty about it later. But when you make a conscious decision that you really want a doughnut and you’re going to eat it, then you can choose to eat it without guilt or regret. You can put it on a plate and sit down at the table without distractions, and truly enjoy it. And afterwards you can feel that it was “worth it”.
I know I’ve heard many people say “I wish I hadn’t eaten that, it wasn’t worth it.” But if you eat mindfully, if you take a moment to taste and savour your food, then after one bite you might say: “This doesn’t taste as good as I thought, I’m not really enjoying it. I’m not going to finish it.” And you don’t feel guilty and regretful.
#3 : Make choices that are loving, kind and bring you joy
This is by far, for me at least, the hardest tip to follow. I’m a classic people please. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I’m willing to put other’s happiness before my own. But lately my husband and I have been trying to recognize when we are making choices that make us truly happy, verses making choices because we feel obligated or guilted or fearful of consequences.
Let’s take a moment to do a small exercise:
- Sit back and think about your typical day
- Write down all the things you do
- Beside each thing, write whether you are doing that thing because it brings you joy or for some other reason
Notice anything? You’ll be surprised how little of our life we live following our hearts and our passions and our happiness.
Why don’t we make choices that make us happy?
Of course there are many, many reasons why we don’t all do what makes us happy all of the time. We might go to a job we don’t love because we need income to support our family. You might dislike cleaning the house but do it anyways, because you don’t want to live in filth. We might force ourselves to sit down and study, because we know that the end goal is more important than the moment.
However, there are many moments in a day where we can check in and see if we’re making a joyful decision for ourselves or not. Are we sending a text message to a friend because we feel obligated to check in or because truly want to know how they are? Are we saying yes to a family dinner invite because we’ve said no to the last 2 invites and feel guilty, or because we really want to catch up with everyone?
Experiment with it. See what it’s like to do things that bring you joy. To see people that bring you joy. The more you choose joy, the more joy starts presenting itself to your in life.
#4 : Step into the flow
This last idea is one that sounds pretty easy in theory, but isn’t always as easy in practice. We’ve all heard the cliche “swimming upstream.” And I’ll bet a lot of us feel like that in many aspects of our life. Maybe we’re struggling to make more money, or feel like we’re fighting a losing battle with our spouse, or nothing is ever easy for us.
And on the flip side, we all know those people that seem to have it so easy. Things just work out for them. These people are ‘in the flow.’
How do you step into the flow?
It’s literally as easy as seeing the opportunities that present themselves to you, and taking them. A new job, a trip with a friend, a date. Do it and see what happens. And it won’t always turn out amazing. But when it isn’t amazing or what we thought it would be, it’s only because we have something to learn from that experience. See if you can explore what it is.
This is all about relaxing, letting go of our need to control life and having a certain outcome, and just allowing things to unfold. And it will unfold! There’s often a fear that nothing will get done if we live life this way, but quite the opposite is true. Imagine sitting down to do work because you feel inspired to do it, you’ll enjoy doing the work and be more productive at it. That’s going with the flow. That’s listening to your instincts and seeing that there’s an opportunity in front of you.
The universe has your back
It’s also about trusting. Trust that the universe will present to you exactly what you need in this moment. We can try and swim against the current and fight it, but that will just result in us slowing down our inevitable path and not enjoying our journey. Or we can surrender and see where the current takes us.
It’s a bit of a different perspective for many people, but we are all going on a journey in this life. And we can go on it kicking, screaming, and fighting, or do it gracefully and joyfully. Whatever your approach to the journey is, you’ll get to the same destination in the end. But I promise that if you allow yourself to step into the flow, you’ll really enjoy the journey.
Things to remember
Hopefully you can start to implement some of these tips right away and continue to *work* towards the best version of yourself. So remember:
- Eat foods that serve you best. You intuitively know what these are, but we’re always here to help if you have questions!
- If you choose to eat foods that don’t serve you, recognize why you’re eating them, then enjoy them guilt-free!
- Make choices that bring you joy. Skip the work party you’re dreading and stay home in your PJ’s if you want to. It’s okay!
- Step into the flow. The universe is giving you everything you need right now. Trust it and have fun with it!
Of course this is hardly an exhaustive list. But I wanted to share with you the specific things we are doing right now to better ourselves every day. As we discover and explore new and exciting ideas in the future, we’ll be sure to share them with you! For now, see what happens when you explore the 4 tips above. Amazing things can happen when we accept ourselves for who we are in this moment, and then recognize the unlimited potential for graceful change and growth all around us.
Until next time, stay happy, healthy and hungry for more!