1. Unplug Your Television
Television has more of a disruptive influence on our lives and does more to affect our sanity than most other modern appliances. Since it was invented in the early 20th century, TV has slowly become an integral part of our daily lives and today influences how we think act and behave as individuals and as a society. Far from being an entertainment device, modern day television has become more of a platform for delivering incessant advertising messages, political propaganda and mind-numbing reality shows with little redeeming values.
Though many of us may not realize this or want to acknowledge it, television affects us at multiple levels. The constant barrage of advertising messages on television often can result in misplaced priorities, unrealistic expectations and low self-esteem when those expectations are not made. It constantly makes us want things we don’t need and teaches us to expect instant gratification. By constantly equating material wealth and good looks with happiness, television teaches us to focus on all the wrong things and forget the things that should really matter.
The simple act of switching off the television and letting it remain that way can liberate your mind in ways that even you may not expect and allow you to savor experiences. So do yourself a favor and quit your cable company and move on to Netflix if you really want to watch something every once in a while.
2. Drop Your Fast Food Intake
The U.S. is one of the most obese nations in the world and it is no accident that we got that way. Per capita the average American family eats more junk food than in any other country. A lot of that has to do with the ubiquitous presence of fast food restaurants around the country. Most of these places serve up food that contains way too many calories, too much saturated fat, salt and grease. All too often the food is deep-fried, over-cooked and contains very little to no nutritional value.
Eating such food may convenient and inexpensive, and yes tasty as well. But over the long-term the consequences to your health from eating too much fast food can be devastating. Apart from making you obese, a diet consisting of fast food alone will rob you of the vitality and energy that results from a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.
Fast food can leave you feeling lethargic and unhealthy and deprives your body of the nutrients it needs. Importantly, all that low-cost fast food that you are consuming now will end up costing you big time in health care costs stemming from obesity, blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.
You truly are what you eat. So make a sensible choice and drop your fast food intake. See what it difference it makes.
3. Continue To Educate Yourself
It truly takes a diverse set of skills to be able to survive in the current economy. Companies are looking to cut costs and have been resorting to widespread layoffs over the past few years. Increasingly they are counting on their remaining employees to pick up the slack and essentially do more for less. To succeed in this environment it is no longer enough to do your best, but to be the best at what you do.
That means being willing to recognize that the degrees you might have earned and the credentials you might have acquired will only take you so far. You have to continue to educate yourself and make susre that you have the skills needed to compete with today’s brightest and the best.
Remember there are a countless number of eager young graduates coming out of college every year with a fresh set of skills. Not only are they hungry for your job they are often willing to work for less. Competing against them will require you to constantly remake yourself. You need to educate yourself, learn new skills and polish up your existing expertise.
See if you can leverage your work experience to acquire specialized professional certifications or other educational credentials in your area of work. It might just save your job.
4. Get On The Green Bandwagon
This year Go Green! It’s one surefire way to make you feel better about yourself. There’s little to beat the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you are doing your part to keep your surroundings and the environment healthy. Those of us who often complain about climate change, the greenhouse effect and global warming often feel powerless to affect any change on our own. We often refrain from doing the things we know we should do because we think we are too insignificant to matter. But the truth is that change has to start with someone and it might as well be you.
Going green doesn’t take a whole lot of effort either. It could be as simple as resolving to use reusable bags at the grocery store, carrying a water bottle to work instead of using disposable bottles and refraining for using paper plates and cups. Going green can also mean being more careful about using materials you know are easily bio-degradable, reusing materials as much as you can and of course recycling as often as possible.
Going green doesn’t have to mean making drastic changes to your life. But the feeling of well-being and self-esteem that it can result in are truly immeasurable.
5. Get Off The Money Train
There’s little denying the fact that we all need money to survive. It’s crucial to our physical and mental well-being in more ways than we might realize. At the same time though money shouldn’t be the entire focus of life. Making money is not an end in and of itself. And neither should it be a means to an end.
Too often the drive to equip ourselves with all things material blinds us to the fact that money in and of itself has no inherent value.
It is our attitude towards it that is immeasurably more important. There are truly others things in life that are far more important than money, but which we seldom pay as much attention to. Family and good health for instance are probably more directly linked to our sense of overall well being and happiness than money alone ever can be. So too is social service. The satisfaction that comes from knowing that you are contributing your talents to those less fortunate is more gratifying that anything money can bring. But until we stop equating money with happiness, we will never be able to find true happiness.
So this year, make a resolution to get off the money train and see if you can return some of the good fortune you might have been blessed with, back to society. You just might find it more rewarding than you anticipated.
6. Drop Instant Gratification
As a society we have been brought up to believe than we can attain anything we want almost as soon as we want it. The easy availability of credit, at least until relatively recently, has in fact made this a reality for many of us regardless of whether it’s a house, car, big-screen TV or any other material possession. It’s one of the reasons why the average 20-somethings these days have more material possessions with them then their parents did at the same age.
The problem with instant gratification is that it creates in each one of us a feeling of self-entitlement that becomes hard-wired in our brains. The more we get things without really having to work for it or save for it, the more we are going to feel that instant gratification is our birthright. When we don’t get what we want right away, many of us tend to feel frustrated and emotionally trapped.
Because we expect everything this instant, it removes any incentive for us to really save or plan for the future. Inevitably all of us are going to realize that life really doesn’t work that way and that there truly are some things that you got to have to work at such as love, and respect and reputation.
If you want to feel truly happy, drop the notion of wanting things instantly. The rewards of having to wait for and work for something are truly far greater than instant gratification.
7. Make Up Your Own Political Agenda.
Don’t wait for the government to do everything for you. Though the government is there to serve you it does not mean that it is always looking out for your best interests. Too often, politicians are more focused on serving the interests of powerful corporations and lobbyists than they are in looking out for yours.
Political agendas these days are too often controlled by companies with deep pockets who are looking to further their commercial interests at the expense of the voting, tax-paying public. Far from being a government of the people, by the people and for the people, big government these days represents big business. Politicians, irrespective of their party affiliations have largely become slaves to their corporate masters.
That however doesn’t have to mean things have to remain this way for ever. If you want change you got to be willing to lead that change. Rather than being a passive participant in the democratic process, be proactive. As President Kennedy once famously put it, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country.” Many of the greatest social changes in history resulted from grass roots movements started by ordinary individuals who had the courage to stand up for their beliefs.
Your political agenda doesn’t necessarily have to be earth-shattering. It could be as simple as mustering support for a pay raise for elementary school teachers in your area, or ensuring that the neighborhood park is not zoned as a commercial property by your local politicians. Don’t rely on politicians to take the initiative. Too often they won’t take action unless it is at the bidding of a commercial interest.
So stop being indifferent to politics and make up your own political agenda for the changes you want to see around you.
It will look like this: Seven Steps You Must Take In 2010 To Keep Sane