There’s a Positive Psychology exercise I’ve written about on other occasions that’s called best possible self. It’s where you describe the person you would love to be and the life you’d ideally be living.
While it’s hugely helpful to think about how you’d like to be in the future, it’s also just as important to consider how you might live as the best version of yourself today.
Try the following tips to help you embrace your best possible self, right now.
1. Live in line with your values
Your values are your heart’s deepest desire about how you want to live. They describe the personal attributes you want to bring to life and the qualities you want to espouse as you live your life. If you’re unsure about your values, take this free online values test to help you define yours.
2. Make time for the things that you love
Sometimes we tell ourselves we don’t have time for the things that make life good. Even when time is tight or your energy levels are low, make a more concerted effort to do the things you love. This may mean giving up half an hour of sleep, spending less time on social media or walking away from a few unanswered emails, but the benefits will far outweigh the cost.
3. Be kind and compassionate in your relationships
Recent research about compassion reminds us that being kind is better for our wellbeing than being critical. Get into the habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt and do your best to practice the art of forgiveness when someone you care about has made a mistake. When we practise kindness, we’re happier, calmer, our blood pressure is lower and it can even boost our immune system.
4. Cultivate self-compassion too
As well as being compassionate with others, learn to be kind to yourself too. It’s imperative if you want to achieve emotional wellbeing and contentment in life.
5. Treat your body well
Taking care of your body is not just about pushing yourself harder at the gym or training to run a marathon. It is equally about tuning in and listening to your body to find out what you need most. When you learn to be mindful of your physical wellbeing, you’ll come to recognise the kind of movement your body needs, the foods that energise you most and when rest becomes a priority.
6. Create positive habits
Spend a couple of days tracking your daily habits and make a note of those that align with your idea of your ‘best self’ as well as those that move you away from this version of yourself. For example, the habit of checking your phone first thing in the morning might feel less favourable than practising gratitude or meditation. The habit of turning on the television as you eat may take you away from eating mindfully. Replace one habit that doesn’t serve you with something that feels more aligned with the person you’d ideally love to be.
7. Bring your awareness back to the present moment
As my favourite mindfulness teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh says, when you’re drinking tea, drink tea. If you’re walking, walk mindfully. Practise being fully present to whatever you’re doing and as best you can immerse yourself in that experience without judgement.
8. Embrace joy
Find an activity that brings you joy and make time for it every week. Dance, sing, laugh, find young children to play with or be creative. Embracing the habit of joy builds your natural capacity for joy as well as improving your immune function, reducing stress and flooding your body with positive hormones. As well as making you feel happier, this will have a positive impact on others too.
9. Practise letting go
While it’s tempting to impose our preferences and views on other people, the most powerful example of mindful living is learning to ‘live and let live’. When we can genuinely let go of the idea that we are able to control life or the people we interact with, we discover a greater capacity for acceptance, which is a key foundation to inner peace.
10. Do something that scares you
We often wait until we have the confidence to create change in our lives before taking on any kind of personal challenge. Instead of telling yourself that you’ll wait until you feel confident, remind yourself that confidence is very often the by-product of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
11. Live your life purpose today
As I wrote in this article, you don’t need to work for a not-for-profit or save the world in some way to be living a purposeful and meaningful life. But you do need to know what gives your life purpose so that you can find small ways to live in alignment with that every day. If you’re stuck on your life purpose, you may find more clarity as you work your way through the End of Year Wrap eBook.
If there’s one thing that’s changed my life more significantly than anything else, it’s the daily practice of meditation. If you’re not sure where to start, try this guided Mindful Awareness Meditation of mine on the free Insight Timer app or listen to the Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days course by Sarah Blondin.