Applied Psychology

Ten things you can do to change your life for the better

Mar 26, 2020
Ten things you can do to change your life for the better
Here are 10 suggestions on how to improve your life, so you can deal with whatever changes the world may bring. Key takeaways
  • Bringing about changes within yourself can help prepare you for whatever change the world may bring
  • A big factor in improving yourself is acceptance, whether it be accepting the possibility of failure, or reconciling your past with the person you are now
  • Certain lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, mindfulness and educating yourself through reading or audiobooks, can bring about immediate improvements in wellbeing
Change is difficult, but also inevitable. Yet the more secure you are within yourself, the easier it is to deal with change in whatever form it may come. Bringing about changes within yourself that improve your life for the better is one of the most powerful ways to prepare yourself for what the world may bring.

Awakening potential: How to change your life for the better

Here are ten things you can do to change your life for the better. Some of them are lifestyle changes, while others may be more profound forms of self-development.

1. Accept uncertainty

Having long-term goals is all well and good, but being able to accept the lack of them is just as important. Many people go through life unsure of what the future holds, and without certain knowledge of where they are headed. Accept that the future is uncertain, that not all long-term plans may come to fruition. If you happen to lack direction in your life, realise that there are many in the same boat as you, and that it’s okay to not have a clear idea of what your future holds. After all, things change extremely quickly in the modern world.

2. Accept yourself

Joanne Jowell, the author of The Crazy Life of Larry Joe, says: “Change is not about burying your past identity but rather about learning to reconcile who you once were with who you are today.” Her book details the journey of Larry Joe, from the poor township of Douglas in the Northern Cape through the Cape Flats and the merciless South African penal system to stardom on stages as illustrious as that of Amsterdam’s famous Carré Theatre. The story of transformation emphasises the need to resist the pull of the past, commit to the present and learn how to reconcile the two.

3. Accept failure

Fear of failure prevents many from achieving success. Learn to see failure as a learning process, rather than a cause for shame or despair. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they didn’t achieve anything without first learning to fail time and time again.

4. Dispel the voices in your head

Many people suffer from low self-esteem, resulting from negative voices in their head that they are unable to recognise for what they are; an illusion. Counsellor Melody Hendriks says: “The judgmental and negative voices in our head – often stemming from parents or previous relationships – play an important part in creating a low self-esteem.” For those looking to banish these voices, Hendricks advises: “Once we can identify the voices, we can put them into perspective and learn to quiet them.” One of the aims of counselling is to help the client understand why the voices are there, and then put them in boxes; building stronger self-esteem by making the positive voices more prominent.

5. Consider counselling

Counselling or therapy is not only for those who have mental health problems. It can be of benefit to anyone looking to gain greater insight into themselves, and improve their sense of emotional wellbeing. Many are afraid to seek therapy because they imagine it to be some kind of Freudian psychoanalysis exercise, where a psychologist analyses their words and dreams to come to conclusions about their lives. But therapy is much broader than that, and there are many different approaches. For example, humanistic therapy treats the client as the authority on their self and already in possession of the resources they need to solve their problems; with the role of the therapist being simply to provide a non-directive, authentic and affirming environment that allows clients to openly explore their experiences. In most forms of counselling, the therapist acts as a guide, rather than a provider of definitive answers. Finding the right form of therapy to suit you can be life-changing, and at the very least provides an opportunity to speak to someone who will truly listen.

6. Set short-term goals

If you have a clear long-term vision for your life, that’s great. But as mentioned above, not having one is okay too. Setting and accomplishing short-term goals, on the other hand, allows you to gradually build up a sense of achievement, boosting your confidence and sense of well-being in the process. Short-term goals could include things like going to the gym three times a week, or reading 20 pages of a book each day, or even writing a certain number of pages in your planned novel. Either way, the point is to build up momentum, and provide your brain with consistent shots of dopamine that comes with a sense of achievement.

7. Practice being present

Recent scientific research into ancient meditation techniques has demonstrated the numerous benefits of mindfulness for body and mind. In particular, mindfulness decreases stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, emotional reactivity and fatigue. It also reduces what psychologists call “rumination” – that is, compulsive thinking with negative effects. It regulates emotions and improves concentration, working memory and cognitive flexibility. So it’s no wonder that the pursuit of mindfulness is increasingly popular throughout the world, with many psychologists incorporating it into their practice. But what exactly is mindfulness? In summation, mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. In other words, allowing the present moment to be without resisting it. Of course, no one becomes mindful overnight. It takes practice, and the effects are gradually felt over time. Meditation is key to the practice of mindfulness, and despite the new-age preconceptions that exist around that word; its benefits are corroborated by scientific studies. Yoga also provides a useful introduction to mindfulness, and there are many apps, such as Headspace and Calm, designed to help beginners learn the basics.

8. Stay healthy

Exercise and diet are key to mental as well as physical health. Exercise helps clear the mind, and flood the body with endorphins, a hormone that, according to CNN, brings about feelings of euphoria and general wellbeing. It’s also good for self-esteem, reducing risk of obesity and providing a sense of accomplishment. If there’s one decision you can easily make that will improve your life leaps and bounds, it’s to adopt a regular exercise schedule.

9. Keep learning

Reading and expanding your mind will make you a better thinker, a better conversationalist and a better all-round person. Audiobooks are rising in popularity, and provide many of the same benefits of reading, as well as the ability to learn while driving your car or taking the dog for a walk.

10. Hire a life coach

Just because your life isn’t falling apart at the seams doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from the services of a personal coach. In fact, the services of a life coach can especially be of benefit to someone who considers them self to already be in a good place; as being in a good place makes you more open to growth and positive changes. A life coach will also help you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. As for people who are struggling to make progress in their personal or professional lives, to hang onto good relationships or simply have the feeling that something is missing, the services of a life coach may be just what you’re looking for. A life coach acts as a guide, helping you set and accomplish goals, hold yourself to account and improve your ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles.

Improving lives for the better

Educating yourself is one of the best ways to improve yourself. If you want to learn how to improve the lives of others as well as yourself, consider studying a psychology course at SACAP. Doing so can pave the way for a career in psychology while developing invaluable life skills that will help you grow as a person. For more information, enquire now.
Previous post

Next post