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Do you ever find yourself having too much stuff to do and not enough hours in the day to do it all? Do you find yourself rushing from one occasion to the next, not truly being present in the moment, but simply going through the motions? Often times, society tells us we must do it all, see it all, be it all in order to reach the top, but my question to you is what even is “the top”?
Recently, I have realized “the top” is an ever-changing target, and all people have different ideas of what equates to “the top”. Owning your own business one day, having a healthy, happy family of your own, or becoming a Master Jedi are all plausible scenarios of what reaching “the top” might be for you. For me, personally, reaching “the top” is finding peace and happiness within myself.
As a senior in college, I can honestly say I have observed both my peers and myself attempt to reach the top via multiple facets – If I can just make the Dean’s List this semester, I will have reached the top; If I get into graduate school, then I will have reached the top; If I can just obtain one of those Intramural Championship t-shirts, I’ll be at the top (this one might be true); As long as I have a job by the time I graduate, I’ll have reached the top; If I can just land this internship, then I will have reached the top… the list goes on and on. The truth is, we’re wholeheartedly putting our happiness in outside sources, sources we have absolutely no control over. Think about it, if you tell yourself getting into grad school will fulfill your happiness, what happens when you get rejected? You’re broken? That’s why, after extensive trial and error, I’m a firm believer that reaching the top, or finding peace and happiness is something that only you can control – something that you must find within yourself.
I would like to give you a few suggestions on ways that I believe can lead to peace and happiness within. Here are 10 lasting tips to reaching the top!
1. Try Yoga: Some of the non-yogis might be thinking about not reading the rest of my article right here. Please don’t go. Take it from a high intensity, boot camper – I used to HATE yoga. I looked awkward. I felt awkward, and I was so focused on being awkward that I couldn’t even enjoy the practice of yoga. However, I didn’t give up on it and now I LOVE it! I practice yoga every Friday morning, and it is one of the most fulfilling things I ever decided to do for myself. A recent study at the University of Wisconsin showed that consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol (McCall, M.D., Yoga Journal). Check out our group fitness schedule to find a yoga class that works for you.
2. Trim the fat: One of my favorite quotes is by a guy named Roy Blauss. He said,
“We should cultivate the ability to say no to activities for which we have no time, no talent, and which we have no interest or real concern. If we learn to say no to many things, then we will be able to say yes to things that matter most.”
Often times, as college students, we overcommit ourselves. We commit to too many things and become okay at a bunch of different activities instead of being really good at a handful of activities. Reach the top by trimming the fat and freeing yourself up for the activities that are most fulfilling to YOU.
3. Surround yourself with good company: The beauty about surrounding yourself with good company is that when we don’t have the energy and strength to pick ourselves up, people who love us and care about us can step in and give us a hand. I have a hard time allowing others see me struggle. It’s a pride thing, unfortunately. The truth is, I just flat out don’t always have it together. No one does, and it’s times when we don’t have it all together that friends and family are most important!
4. Treating yourself every now and then: Hi. I’m Tara and I LOVE sweets. You’d think being a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, sweets wouldn’t be an issue for me, but they are. Tina Haupert, a blogger, and author, wrote a book called Carrots N Cake. One of the chapters is titled Cookie Friday. In this chapter, she talks about allowing herself a sweet treat every Friday. She looks forward to cookie Friday. It is a reward for her. I have tried to cut out desserts all together, and in reality, I fell flat on my face. Depriving yourself of something you love can sometimes backfire causing you to overindulge. This doesn’t have to pertain to just sweets. Moderation is key in all aspects of life.
5. Meditation: I used to think people who meditated were weird, and now I meditate, so what does that say about me. Dr. Hedy Kober, a neuroscientist who studies the effects of mindfulness meditation, which she has practiced for 10 years at her lab at Yale University, said it best when she said, “It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body — it made it both stronger and more flexible” (Huffpost Healthy Living). Furthermore, the article states, “Studies show that meditation is associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including stress, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and cognitive function, among others. There’s also research to suggest that meditation can reduce blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even cellular health.” I value meditation because it allows me to slow down, and simply be present.
6. Sense of belonging or purpose: Do you have an organization that you are involved in – maybe a community activity, or recreation league sport, or church, or club? If not, I encourage you to find something you are passionate about and get involved.
7. Laugh: Philosopher, Thomas Nagel supports the notion that life is absurd and we are best off if we go about life with a sense of irony. In other words, don’t over analyze every tiny aspect of life. Life is too short to be taken so seriously. Simply shrug your shoulders and laugh.
8. Forgive: I’ve found that when I hold grudges and have a hard time forgiving, I end up doing more harm to myself than the person I can’t seem to forgive. Forgiveness is letting go of the event that hurt you. When you allow yourself to forgive, you are allowing yourself to be free.
9. Sense of achievement: I once had a personal training client who I would time going up and down 3 flights of stairs. In her last session, she reached her personal best time of climbing the stairs. In that moment, my client had reached the top, literally. Set a goal for yourself and don’t let anything get in your way of accomplishing that goal!
10. Glass half full: It’s simple, but true – attitude is everything! A family friend of mine who is a counselor once told me that a certain part of our brain lights up when we do a positive action. The same part of our brain lights up when we think of doing that positive action. For instance, when I actually help someone else, and when I merely think of helping someone else, the same section of my brain lights up. Have a positive attitude and your overall demeanor will be positive and contagious.
Hopefully some of the tips above sound enticing to you, however, if they do not, I encourage you to find out what works for YOU. What makes you happy? A quote I recently stumbled upon read, “Finding peace and happiness within yourself is extremely difficult. Finding peace and happiness outside yourself is impossible.” In short, if I had to leave you with one take away from this article, it would be to reach “the top” by finding peace and happiness within yourself opposed to outside sources.
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Until I’m back, GO WOLFPACK!