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July 16, 2014

33 Ways to Live a Richer, More Meaningful Life

Since I started JillFit almost 4 years ago, my entire life has changed. From the obvious (online business versus desk job) to the subtle (victim mindset vs. possibility mindset). It’s been an amazing ride so far (and it’s still going), and it’s neat to see all the changes.

One shift I’ve made over the last 4 years has to do with creativity.

When I began my business, I really struggled for content or blog ideas because a) my blogging experience started at Metabolic Effect, where the content is way more science-y, which is not my fav thing so I struggled because it would take me 2 weeks to write a blog because I was checking Pubmed every second (no thanks!) and 2) because I just straight-up didn’t have any ideas! I was boring. I had no interests except if my abs were popping :-  I was posting recipes and workouts constantly because I didn’t have many original, novel thoughts of my own. Not that recipes and workouts aren’t useful, but from a creative standpoint, they are just phoning it in.

Now, years later, I am more prolific than ever, and thinking constantly, creating constantly, discussing shit constantly because I can’t help it, it’s my MO. My mom even jokes that Jade and I are “too intense” :) One of the ways I made the change was where I choose to focus my energy.

But it has been a journey …

I remember years ago, sitting on my couch all day on a Saturday watching a House marathon on TBS. I’d watched TV all day and then be mentally EXHAUSTED by 6pm. I didn’t understand it–how does LYING ON THE COUCH AND WATCHING TV ALL DAY MAKE YOU MORE TIRED??? It was crazy, but it was mind-numbing and mindless. It was a WTF moment. And not to judge if you love TV (I did too!), and escapism is fine, but it’s also wasn’t adding to my experience when it drained my energy without giving back.

Shawn Achor in his book ‘Happiness Advantage’ goes through how TV can actual drain willpower via psychic entropy. In other words, watching excessive TV will most likely make you both less creative and less energetic. Similarly, I was also doing 2 hours of cardio a day and reading every single celebrity magazine I could get my hands on. I knew all about The Bachelor, The Kardashians, if Jennifer Aniston was (finally!) pregnant or not, and every single dress worn on the red carpet for like, 2 years straight. Fine. But HOW IS THIS HELPING ME GET BETTER?? It’s not. Is it effortless? Easy? Mind-numbing escapism? Sure. But again, not adding value.

So I started slowing reading more nonfiction books on psychology, business, philosophy, creativity, productivity, spirituality, entrepreneurship, etc, and started uncovering a passion for learning and ideas. I started connecting dots and thinking laterally–taking a framework I read about and applying it to the body change process. Psychology is applicable to so much of the weight loss process, as are many mindset and new age insights. I started having my own novel thoughts and thinking, writing and communicating started getting a whole lot easier and more fun.

Hence, a deeper, richer existence.

So, I thought I’d share with you some of my fav tools, tricks and tips to creating more meaningful existence. I’m sure you have your own, too, I’d love to hear them!

Here are 33 ways to inject some purpose and passion into your life:

  1. Practice gratitude training. Doesn’t need to take all day nor be super woo–woo. Just keep a journal next to your bed and every night before bed, write down one single thing you are grateful for that day. Can be literally, “I’m grateful I get to go to bed at 9pm” :) Gratitude is a game-changer.
  2. Don’t be afraid to tell someone what you appreciate about them. In our society, we often shy away from emotions and affection with everyone except our significant others. Giving unsolicited praise helps lift up them AND you, and it’s not awkward, it’s appreciated.
  3. Read instead of watching TV. Try it for one night a week. Pick even a fiction book (doesn’t need to be nonfiction) and curl up on the couch and read for an hour or two, and see how you do.
  4. Listen to podcasts in the car. This is such a fun and easy way to learn because there are a million podcasts on everything from fitness to psychology to business to sex to sport to knitting. My favs: Cut the Fat, The Tim Ferriss Show, The School of Greatness, Smart Passive Income and Sex Nerd Sandra :)
  5. Leisure walk more. Instead of a gym sesh once a week, try a walk in nature. Be alone with your thoughts, be leisurely, observe.
  6. Be interested in more shit. Seriously. The most interesting people are the ones with the most interests.

  7. Master the PFR scale. My girl Liz DiAlto and I came up with this and it stands for Potential for Reciprocity: the likelihood that you will ask someone you’re talking to about them, show genuine interest in them and not talk about yourself constantly. This is a kindness, but it’s also about conscientiousness. Looking for a 7+ on that scale :) Means you can see outside your own stuff.
  8. Trust more. Some people say trust needs to be earned. I say that’s a really good way to assure you’ll always be on the lookout for someone to screw you over and never form deep connections. Not taking people at their word and always thinking people are working from an agenda is no way to live. Instead, how about: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Earnest Hemingway
  9. Speak your truth, but don’t make it mean that others have to change as a result. Stating your truth is a message to YOUR higher self, which is why it’s important, but other people are entitled to their truth too, and if you’re waiting on someone else to see it like you do in order to be happy, you’re always going to be disappointed. Do you, and then give up expectations.
  10. Find the bright spot in any situation. Even the most painful, scary and messed up ones. What can you learn? Even the smallest lesson. Positive people are not happy all the time, they just maintain perspective more easily. And they’re more resilient. This is a great way to practice.
  11. Appreciate the gray. The people who are the most levelheaded and centered in life are the ones who appreciate the nuance. They don’t see the world in black-and-white or right-and-wrong. They appreciate differences in opinion and approach just as much as they appreciate commonalities.
  12. Be inquisitive. Ask people about themselves, what they do and why they do it. Every person we come in contact with has something to teach us.

  13. Hone your creative outlet. Whether it’s writing or poetry or art or music. How are you expressing yourself at least for a handful of minutes each week?
  14. Make eye contact and smile while walking down the street. Most people will be surprised, and of course it’s a courtesy to them, but more importantly for you, it reinforces your own attitude and confidence. Shoulders squared, spine straightened and owning your power in the world.
  15. Ask, “If I could do anything all day long with no considerations, what would it be?” This is a great place to begin looking for your passion. How could what you love to do help others? What is the thing that, when you talk about it, gets you pumped up?
  16. Make it about other people. I’m not talking about volunteering at the soup kitchen or giving to charity (though those things are certainly great). I’m talking about giving away your expertise and being generous with your own lessons. Learn, then teach. Involve other people. Look for ways to help someone through a struggle. It can’t be all about you all the time. And remember, you only need to be one step ahead of the person you’re coaching :)
  17. Work on showing up 100% authentic in your relationships. This is hard because often we are scared of showing our true selves or sharing our truth with the people we love for fear of rejection or discomfort. We think they might not like what they see. But. But, isn’t that the whole point? It’s an automatic stratification system, a perfect way to create the relationships you want (and abandon the ones where you have to put on a show). Like Jade said, “If you want someone to love you for who you are, you have to have the courage to be who you are.”
  18. Don’t be afraid to put your ego aside and admit when you’re wrong. This can be a bitter pill to swallow but the most confident people are also the ones who aren’t afraid to show their vulnerability.
  19. Surround yourself with possibility people. It’s hard to push your limits when those around you don’t know why you would even try. Find even one person in your sphere who is doing big things and work on forming an organic relationship. Chances are, you’ll meet more people like that as a result. Even if you need to get into a coaching program :) #BestofYou
  20. Alternatively, bring up the Negative-Nancys. Those people whose first-instinct is to say, “That will never work!” — those people. Help them see possibilities and inspire with your actions. You don’t have to say anything, just kill it.
  21. Take 100% responsibility for everything. The #1 way to change your life.

  22. Tell people what strikes you about them. Do that color look nice on them? Are they great listeners? Do they make space for people emotionally? Are they always thinking what someone else might appreciate? Do they have beautiful eyes? Tell them what’s amazing about them, what strikes you. This can feel vulnerable, but the more you practice, the easier it gets.
  23. Mentally go to worst-case scenario to help you take more action. You want to do something big, what’s the worst that can happen? Then ask, would I be okay if that transpired? How would I handle it? Chances are the potential fallout is not nearly as scary as you think. Now, go DO!
  24. Share your stories. People are dying for transparency and realness. How can you cop to your own struggles as a show of humanity to help others show up more authentically, and feel more free to be themselves? I cop to embarrassing shit constantly, and I always get the feedback, “Your transparency helps me feel like I am not alone.” Perfect.
  25. Have something that’s only yours. Many moms feel like they live for their kids and family, and on some level, they have to, but often can lose themselves in the day-to-day. What’s “your thing?” Could be teaching fitness classes, meditation, training for races, blogging, cultivating an awesome online community, etc. Where’s your outlet that has nothing to do with your family or partner?
  26. Practice empathy. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an immediate perspective-changer and helps you understand them (and you in those situations!) even better. It’s no-risk, all-reward.
  27. Give up the drama. Negativity is an attitude, a choice, stemming from insecurities. And it NEVER serves to boost happiness, success or fulfillment.

  28. Phones down at the table. I have been so guilty of this in the past, and I still struggle. But when phones are away, the conversation is better because you have to keep it moving and that involves asking questions and really listening. My fav occasions are when I left my phone at home. Presence makes a huge difference.
  29. Write a letter (or email) to someone who has influenced you. Maybe it’s a mentor or old boss or someone who took you under their wing at some point. This is a practice FOR YOU, not them, in awareness and gratitude.
  30. Practice affectionate touches. This is not easy or natural for everyone, and it doesn’t mean you have to be petting, embracing or massaging strangers. A simple pat on the back as you’re walking by a friend or a casual arm around a shoulder goes a long way.
  31. Learn to love reality. In Byron Katie’s book, ‘A Thousand Names for Joy,’ which was a game-changer for me early on in my mindset work, she says, “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon or too late. You don’t have to like it–it’s just easier if you do.” I love this, and it’s so true. This doesn’t mean we stop striving, or just give up and give in. But, when we argue with reality, we lose. So we can learn to embrace it or we can be miserable.
  32. Close The Expectation Gap–the gap between where you are and where you think you *should* be, is misery. Stop “shoulding” all over yourself and find something amazing about you, something you appreciate right this second :) It’s a practice.
  33. My #1 insight? Continue to strive for deeper meaning and insights. Life is full of lessons–sometimes they are fun, other times they suck. But life is always loving us fiercely with challenges and insights, should we look closely for them. In my 33 years, my experience is that you don’t ever just “get it” and are good to go. Improvement is a practice. And you have to actually want to do it, and think it matters.

Finally, I want to say a big THANK YOU for being here, for being such a faithful reader and participant in the JillFit community. The fact that you are even interested in these kinds of posts and insights means that you are a seeker, and not a settler. I love that and I love you! Never forget how powerful you are in the world! Ox, Jill

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