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7 Things That Are Infecting Your Lifestyle (Whether You Realize It Or Not)
Inspiration

7 Things That Are Infecting Your Lifestyle (Whether You Realize It Or Not)

If something in your life feels semi-chaotic right now, I’m willing to bet some pretty good money that, if you put some real thought into it, you would realize that it’s probably the result of the culmination of a lot of little things that went overlooked instead of one big thing that happened. The good news about this type of realization is when you’re real with yourself about what’s infecting your life, you can take some real steps towards doing what can affect you in a more positive way.


Why am I so confident about this? Oftentimes, when my clients come to me, expressing that their life feels like it’s in total disarray, once I bring up the following seven (plus two) things, they start to realize that making changes, even in these areas, can make a really big difference.

So, if you’re ready to improve your world on a few different levels, look to see if you recognize yourself in any of these points. If so, there’s no time like the present to do a bit of…shifting.

1. Not Making Time for (Some Form of) Meditation

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Y’all, I’ve got some clients that wear me all the way out. The fascinating thing is, it’s not because of their issues or personal goals; it’s because they are so anxious or uptight or frazzled that they aren’t focused enough to still their psyches enough to truly gain anything out of the sessions. So, what do I recommend? That they meditate at least 10 minutes before we meet — and lawd, does that make all of the difference in the world!

From a counseling perspective, meditation is awesome because it makes people more self-aware, helps them to concentrate better, reduces their levels of negativity, makes them more tolerant (and a better listener), and it also makes it easier for them to see things from a different (or bigger) perspective. Overall, meditating is bomb because it also reduces stress levels, lowers your blood pressure, can help with physical pain and addictive patterns, and it also improves your quality of sleep — and that really is the tip of the iceberg as far as its benefits are concerned.

So, how long should you do it? According to many experts, 10 minutes is sufficient, especially if you’re just starting out (check out “7 Meditation Hacks (For People Who Can't Seem To Do It).” However, if you want to get the most out of meditating, 30 minutes is optimal. And here’s the thing: meditation is not a monolith. There is spiritual meditation, mindfulness meditation, visualization meditation, and so many other approaches to it. We’ve even published an article on the platform entitled “The Best Meditation Practices For Your Zodiac Sign.” And don’t even get me started on the fact that if you want to improve your sex life, there is also orgasmic meditation (check out “What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?”).

You know, I once read a quote that simply said, “Brilliant things happen in calm minds.” Unfortunately, a lot of people are out here fumbling all kinds of “life balls” and creating all sorts of unnecessary problems for themselves, and it’s because they avoid doing simple things like sitting down somewhere, deep breathing, and centering their psyche.

The average person spends somewhere around 2.5 hours of their 24-hour day on social media alone, and I won’t even get into how that can oftentimes do more harm than good (check out “10 Ways To Keep Social Media From Triggering You (So Much)”). The least you can do is take 30 minutes out of that for something that has been scientifically proven to help your mind, body, and spirit, right? I’m sayin’.

2. Neglecting to Make WEEKLY Short-Term Goals

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An author by the name of Brian Cagneey once said, “In order to know where you’re headed, you must be aware of your own personal goals.” On the heels of that, author Earl Nightingale once said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” To me, the interesting thing about being a goal-oriented person is it speaks to being purpose-driven too. The reason why I say this is because, while one definition of purpose is “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.”, another is “an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.” See how they work, rather seamlessly, together?

Although a lot of my coaching centers around relationships, because the root of life coaching started in the executive lane, I sometimes deal with people who need some support when it comes to their careers. Whenever they feel stagnant (check out “6 Questions To Ask Yourself To See If You're Stagnant (Or Not)”), something that I will recommend they create is some short-term goals — not just in one category either…it’s a good idea to do so in several: professional, relational, physical, financial, personal, etc.

When was the last time you did that? By setting 2-3 goals for yourself on a weekly basis, not only will the sense of accomplishment do wonders for your self-esteem and confidence levels, it will inch you so much closer towards any long-term goals that you may have as well. For instance, if you save $20 a week (short-term goal), you will have $1,040 by the end of the year (long-term goal).

3. Refusing to Take Seasonal Personal Inventory

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Anyone who knows me (and only I would know if they do) knows that I’m all about taking personal inventory. I’ll explain: the one time I worked retail, sometimes I had to do an assessment to see if what the company said that they had matched up with the reality of what was actually in the store. Well, along these same lines, personal inventory — as it relates to my relationships, my purpose, my goals, my expectations, and my self-evolution — is all about seeing if what I think is going on is actually my reality.

Personal inventory is something that I try to do at the turn of every season (four times a year), and boy, has it served me well. That’s because, if we’re actually taking this thing called life literally and seriously, growth should be transpiring, on some level, on an almost daily basis. This means that change is happening too, and that means we can’t always assume that everything is just the way it was six months ago. In fact, one of my favorite quotes that I share with couples often is, “People change and forget to tell each other,” which is why so many gray divorces (divorces that happen when people are significantly older) go down — if you don’t take inventory of your relationship, you can find yourself living with a stranger. And if you don’t take personal inventory of your life, overall, semi-regularly, one day you could look up and not even understand what the hell is going on, in general.

Personally, I’m a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) observer. So, the next time I’ll be doing inventory, it’ll be from September 15-17 of this year. I’ve accomplished quite a bit since, shoot, even my birthday this past June, so I look forward to seeing what “matches up” in various areas of my life — and what doesn’t.

You can never go wrong with pulling out a journal and seeing if what you said you wanted your career to look like in this season is actually looking that way or if you and your partner are on the same page relationally. Plus, it’s far more difficult to “come up short” or to even be blindsided when you already know that you’ve taken a personal inventory (account) of your life.

4. Weaponizing Forgiveness

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Let’s go to church — well, actually to the Bible — for just a second. If you’re someone who claims to adhere to biblical Scripture, then you (probably) already know that the gist of Matthew 6:14-15 is the only way that God will forgive you for your wrongdoings is if you forgive others. This essentially means that forgiving people isn’t about them; it’s all about you.

I’d venture to say that the Most High presented it this way to keep us humbly aware that just like people can offend, hurt or harm us, we are fully capable of doing the same thing; not only that, but when it comes to these things, we have done it and will do it again because no one is perfect. Matthew 6:14-15 provides a gut check on that.

Yet even if the Bible isn’t your thing, science provides plenty of intel on the fact that weaponizing forgiveness, in many ways, is an act of self-harm. I say that because it’s been proven that forgiving others decreases stress, reduces anxiety, boosts immunity, improves one’s self-esteem, helps to treat depression, etc. while not choosing to forgive can literally increase your risk of having migraines, strokes, and heart issues (SMDH).

Some of y’all may not want to hear this, yet something else that the Good Book says is the truth is what sets us free (John 8:31-32). And the truth is, a lot of us think that people do not deserve to be forgiven because our ego tells us that — and our ego is lying to us.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you don’t offer up boundaries and/or consequences for others’ actions. No, forgiveness means that you are willing to accept that no one can change the past (author Gary Zukav once said that), that pardoning others is wise because karma is real, and one day, someday, you will need someone to do the same thing to/for you and that you are choosing to not give someone so much power in your life that you are going to hold on to the kind of energy that has been proven to directly affect — actually, infect — your mind, body, and spirit.

Who has the kind of time to be that consumed by/with someone else? Being merciful is something that you will always benefit from. ALWAYS. Put the “grudge weapon” down. FORGIVE.

5. Avoiding ‘Tithing to Yourself’ and Saving Money. EVERY PAYCHECK.

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If you’ve ever heard somewhere that, although the majority of people have a savings account, most of them don’t have enough money in it to cover a $1,000 emergency, sadly, that is no exaggeration. And let’s not even get into the fact that many financial experts say that you need to save at least 15 percent of your annual gross income in order to retire. Meanwhile, a whopping 60 percent of us are out here living paycheck to paycheck (for a variety of reasons). When you really let that set in, it can be pretty scary to think about.

So yeah, there was absolutely no way that I could speak on “lifestyle infections” without at least mentioning how important it is to be intentional, responsible, calculated, and self-controlled when it comes to your finances; life will be extremely challenging (eventually if not sooner than later due to an unexpected expense or loss of income) if you don’t.

And what about having some “fun money”? Frankly, life is too short not to, and this is where the concept of tithing to yourself comes in. Basically, what that means is, taking 10 percent of your take-home pay and reserving it for yourself. If you want to be really smart about doing this, rather than blowing it all every paycheck on a pair of shoes, save up a few months for a trip or some other larger expense that you’ve had your eye on for a while. When you know that you’ve got some “wiggle room cash” to reward yourself with, that typically makes it easier to be more responsible with the other money that you have.

6. Not Having a (Consistent) Nighttime Ritual

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I wish that I could say that I’ve had a nighttime ritual for most of my adult life, yet that’s not even close to being the case, especially on the beauty routine tip. It’s actually only been this year (I know, right?) that I’ve been consistent when it comes to implementing steps to get my skin and hair ready for no less than six hours of sleep (sleep and rest, and no, they are NOT the same thing) — yet when I tell you that it’s been a total game-changer? Words truly cannot express it! Just setting aside 30 minutes to properly cleanse, treat and moisturize my face (and neck…too many people out here have old-looking necks) and making sure that my hair has some hydration to it has made all of the difference in the world. Plus, creating this kind of routine reminds me that investing in myself in this way is essential and a super wise long-term investment.

Having a nighttime ritual really should go beyond beauty, though. If you set aside a solid hour to slow down and relax by doing things like taking a bath; turning off your electronics; listening to some soothing music; turning on a meditation app; drinking some warm milk (or a milk alternative) and honey, some chamomile tea or some tart cherry juice (it contains melatonin); turning down your thermostat to around 69 degrees (it’s easier to sleep when your body isn’t hot); reading a book; doing some journaling; massaging your feet (to ease pain, reduce stress levels and get rid of muscle tension) — you will significantly increase your chances of not only falling into a sound state of sleep but remaining there until morning.

And since sleep deprivation is connected to things like a bad mood, low energy levels, a lack of concentration and productivity, not to mention it can increase your chances of being overweight, having a stroke or heart disease, or being diagnosed with depression — I’m pretty sure you can see how having a nighttime ritual is not really a luxury; it’s more like a surefire necessity.

7. Forgetting to Celebrate Yourself on a Daily Basis

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As many opportunities as I can get to encourage self-celebration, I’m gonna do it because I know far too many people who never seem to take a break in life, and it’s all because they don’t acknowledge and affirm the things that they’ve already accomplished before pushing themselves to do something else.

I can be tempted to be this person sometimes, which is why I make it a point and practice to toast myself at the end of every day. It’s literally my way of saying that I see both the “little” as well as big things that I’ve done — and if no one else is gonna get excited about them…I will!

I have a special glass and drink for the occasion, and, at this point, I’ve been doing it for so long that my day does not feel complete without it. Sometimes, I can’t wait to say what I am proud of out loud. It’s a dope way to end the day.

Even if you don’t do what I do, make sure that you find some kind of way to celebrate yourself. It makes no sense to wait on others to do for you what you won’t do for you. Lead by example, sis. Real talk.

BONUS: Always Keeping Your Notifications On

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Something that I’ve been working on more and more these days is “speaking to my friends” in their love language (check out “This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships”). For one of them, it’s quality time, so I went to her house one night to hang out on her porch. I used to have a boyfriend who was super big on quality time, too, so one thing that I’ve come to appreciate about those kinds of people is they can cause my stress levels to drop significantly so — and it’s all due to one thing: my phone being off.

Yeah, a lot of quality time people want your undivided attention. This means they are the ones who seem to get the most low-key irritated about checking your phone while they’re talking or even not giving eye contact during a conversation. I get it because if you’re going to be about quality more than quantity, you don’t want to do things that are rude.

And since doing something as simple as turning off your phone notifications can also result in you being less distracted, remaining in the moment, giving your eyes a break from screen stress and strain, focusing on one thing at a time, and feeling a sense of calm from not constantly being in a state of information overload — even when you’re not in the presence of a quality time person, treat yourself to a break from the world that is within your phone by at least turning your notifications off during meals and about an hour before turning in at night (so that you can wind your mind, body, and spirit down). It’s truly like a breath of fresh air.

BONUS: Repeating Yourself

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Recently, while in a session with a wife, she was talking about how frustrated she felt about being a people pleaser who also felt like a doormat: “I’m so sick of people not respecting my boundaries!” she said with an elevated tone. When I asked her if she had clearly articulated what her boundaries actually were, she paused and then started talking about what people should know to do.

Chile. A close friend of mine got me free of the habit of “should-ing” several years ago. Long story short, her take on it is thinking or saying what others should do is a form of projection — and she would be correct. While interacting with other people, we are not them, and they are not us, so we need to state what our needs, expectations, and boundaries are with other people instead of resigning ourselves to the notion that they should already know.

Now once it’s out there in the open, and folks keep dismissing what they have acknowledged, that is when ish starts to get hella disrespectful — in part because if you feel like you have to keep repeating yourself, that usually goes hand in hand with feeling ignored. And when folks are intentional about being so dismissive, it’s time to do some serious reevaluating about the type of role and rank that they should play in your life. Because the reality is folks who truly value you will honor and retain what you have to say. Ignoring is a choice.

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The thing about the small things that infect us is they’re like snowflakes that eventually turn into an avalanche. My hope is by reading all of this, you can see how making a few tweaks and adjustments in some areas of your life can really enhance and increase your world on a myriad of levels.

Here’s to some realizing, some acknowledging, some shifting, and some major improving, sis. You deserve it. Indeed.

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Featured image by Leo Patrizi/Getty Images

 

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