The Secret to a Better Life

The other day was a tough one. I was grumpy, overwhelmed, and generally negative.

  • When exercising, I was down about the fact that I couldn’t run farther or faster.
  • When I finished a project, I got instantly stressed out about the NEXT project that I had to tackle.
  • When my husband brought dinner home at the end of a busy day, I complained about the fact that the restaurant got my order wrong.


This is not the “everyday me,” but I certainly recognize this version of me.

She shows up when I don’t get enough rest, exercise, and social connection. It’s true. I get grumpy, overwhelmed, and negative-minded.

I start to think that the WORLD needs to change in order for me to feel better.

I forget that it’s my MIND that needs to change.

(For a related article on accepting things for what they are, see:



You see, one sign of overall good health is a flexible, adaptable, and curious mind. But, when stress, fear, fatigue, and overwhelm take hold, our brains respond with fight or flight, and we become reactive, rigid, and judgmental. 

We all fall prey to this now and then, and the secret is to be conscious of it and to take action to remedy the situation before we get in too deep.

The hard part is that when we are IN IT, we often can’t SEE IT, so which actions to take may not be obvious.



I’ve developed a personal list of the things that work for me, and I’ll bet some similar things will work for you.

Here are the top 5 actions I need to take when I become negative-minded. (And better yet, that I need to be taking ALL the time to stay in a good space!)

1) Resting. Right now, getting deep rest is essential for my good health. This might take the form of 5 deep, cleansing breaths, or a 20-minute power nap, or a weekend off the grid… but rest is #1.

2) Connecting with my body. This means stretching, exercise, and movement. (Obvious, huh!?) Every day, even when I don’t want to, I need to remind myself to take multiple stretch breaks and get some exercise. Stretching every 45 minutes, doing a 20-minute spin class or a 5-minute Qi break, dropping for 15 push-ups, or just massaging my own temples can do the trick. Making this a priority is key!

3) Water. Drinking water, being near water, and being IN water will always make me feel good. A quick trip to the river for me (luckily, I live close to a river) can change the whole day or week!

4) Serving others. It helps me be less self-absorbed and trapped in my own thinking when I do something for others. Making a meal for someone, or helping someone with a project, or just asking about someone else’s experience and really listening, are all ways that I can break the cycle of “poor me.”

5) Social connection. When I am stressed, I isolate myself. I hate the idea of dumping my bad mood on others, so I retreat. Just reaching out to a friend to say hello is a great habit for me to cultivate. If I can combine this with expressing my appreciation for them, it can get me out of a funk in record time!

(The PHOTO above is me and a friend, getting exercise near water! Doesn't get much better than this when it comes to setting myself up for a good mood all day and week!)


I’ve worked long and hard to understand my own “habits of mind,” and figure out what kind of simple but powerful actions are most likely to help.

I don't want to stay stuck in a negative-mind, because it tends to seep out and infect others, and I don't want to leave that kind of imprint on the world.


How about you?

  • What are your early warning signs of a rigid or inflexible mind?
  • What are your personal action steps?

Knowing this, and taking action- even when you don't want to- will help you stay adaptable, flexible, healthy, and well!


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