The arrival of spring is one of the best times of the whole year to start working harder on your personal growth.
I’m not saying you can’t do it any old time of the year, but in my opinion there’s nothing better than longer days, warmer weather, reasons to go outside without a parka, new seasonal activities, and a good old natural hit of Vitamin D to get you motivated to do whatever it is you want to do — especially if you’re just coming out of an especially long and brutally cold winter wherever you are in the world, like me.
And hey, if you let your New Year’s resolutions for this year kind of fall by the wayside, now’s the time to pick them back up again.
Where I’m from, just north of Toronto, there are still a lot of visible patches of snow and sometimes the temperature still hovers around the freezing mark, but the fact that I can see grass again and the sun is stronger and all the squirrely critters are out and about looking for the nuts they hid months ago before winter blanketed us with snow really makes me just want to… do stuff.
Let’s take a look at some of the obvious stuff first:
- Purge all the crap I need to throw out or give to goodwill?
- Go out and buy a new spring wardrobe?
- Start counting down the days until the farmers’ market opens?
- Finally clean my car and not wait until July to get the snow tires taken off?
- Pin a million new summer salad recipe ideas to try on Pinterest?
- Get a crazy mani-pedi that make my fingers and toes look like Easter eggs?
- Plan a new jogging route and get a matching outfit that makes me look like an actual runner who knows what she’s doing?
- Do a deep cleaning of my kitchen and bathroom?
- Try to grow my own herb garden?
These are the kinds of things I contemplate doing every year, and I usually end up doing most of them — minus the herb garden thing.
But to be honest, this year I’m kinda interested in a different type of positive change — something that goes beyond the shallow stuff society somehow convinces you to care way too much about.
“As we get past our superficial material wants and instant gratification we connect to a deeper part of ourselves, as well as to others, and the universe.” — Judith Wright
I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to get to know yourself a bit better and decide or rediscover what your place is in this world — as opposed to just living your life chaotically while reacting to everything that comes your way and obsessing over frivolous things.
Don’t get me wrong — decluttering your home and buying new clothes are great ways to feel more organized and give you a good boost of confidence, but people are reminded by retailers and all their seasonal ad campaigns to do it every year anyway, and I honestly think we can do more.
Spring is universally recognized as the season of rebirth by all sorts of cultures and groups and individuals, and I think that’s pretty awesome and kind of really important.
Here’s what I’m proposing: a massive tuneup to your newly defrosted yet still kinda stale lifestyle that better supports your authentic self and your values.
Just focus on these three things, and you’ll be good to go.
Item 1, step 1: Think of something you do often that’s time consuming and unproductive that you should probably give up.
Item 1, step 2: For at least 30 days, give it up.
Winter is the season for bad habits to flourish.
People forget fruits and vegetables exist, ice and snow become the epitome of doom, and everyone just lays there in their dark bedrooms with their eyeballs glued to Netflix.
Take a moment to think about how you’ve been spending the past few weeks and identify any regular habits that are totally killing your vibe, or at least aren’t exactly benefiting to you in any real way.
For me, it’s browsing.
Truly, my iPhone is both a blessing and a curse, because even though it’s like the best phone ever for work and personal productivity, I nearly spent the entire winter with my entire body except my head and hands submerged in lukewarm bathwater as I tirelessly browsed Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, Digg, Flipboard, and a bunch of other junk I can’t even remember on my damn phone.
When I think about how much time I spent this winter freely letting my mind get sucked into an internet wormhole of pointlessness and stupidity, it makes me want to quit technology forever and become one of those badass Mongolian eagle hunters or something.
It’s part of my job to stay on top of what kind of crazy shit’s going down on social media, but my bad browsing habit extends far beyond what’s necessary.
I’ve giving up excessive mobile web browsing this spring.
Giving up a bad or useless habit can help you grasp just how much time you’re actually wasting on stuff that doesn’t matter — and it can even serve as a powerful reminder that your time here on this planet is super limited.
We all act like we’re immortal or something, waiting for that someday when we’ll finally decide or feel like getting our shit together.
A lot of us are so distracted that we give no real thought to how much time we actually waste every day, every week, every month, and every year engaging in activities that steal away huge chunks of time that we’ll never get back.
Everyone already knows life is short — it’s one of the oldest sayings in the book.
But there’s nothing quite like giving up some time consuming, distractive, and totally trivial task or habit to make you grasp just how true it really is.
Item 2, step 1: Think of something new and interesting you’ve always wanted to do.
Item 2, step 2: Do it.
Congratulations on deciding to give up something that’s sucking your life away, because now you have the time and energy to replace it with something new!
Let me be clear on this — this doesn’t have to be something that you know you really just should do, like trim those overgrown hedges or figure out what the heck you’re doing with your investments.
It should be something you’re excited to dive into and ideally something you’ve never tried before, like starting a new hobby or developing a new skill.
Even if it’s an old hobby or activity that you used to really enjoy but haven’t done in years, rediscovering your love for it like it’s new all over again is a great way to get back in touch with yourself in a very personal and meaningful way.
As long as it serves to challenge you in a productive and beneficial way and isn’t anything crazy like prostitution or drug dealing, then you should totally do it.
I was just talking to a friend last weekend about potentially taking a local cooking class together.
My cooking skills could use some improvement, so why not?
As humans, we’re wired for new experiences.
When you’re exposed to novel stimuli — like your first instrumental music lesson, a new dance move to try and tackle, or a huge fish you just hooked and have to reel in — the dopamine system in your brain becomes activated and naturally motivates you to keep going so you can be rewarded from it.
In other words, we’re all explorers looking for treasure.
It’s about time something happens in society that helps people stop viewing challenge and hardship as undesirable and something we should avoid.
No matter how old, how poor, how unintelligent, how busy, or how uncertain it is that you are, making the decision to go ahead learn something new is in fact one of the best things you can do for your mental health and personal growth.
We’re not physiologically wired to pay attention to the same old stuff that never changes.
If you want to get back in touch with who you really are and rejuvenate your spirit, pick out a new hobby or skill to focus on that challenges you in a productive and rewarding way.
Item 3, step 1: Think of someone who’s important to you who you haven’t been in touch with for a while.
Item 3, step 2: Call them.
How ironic is it that we’re so connected to everyone yet so disconnected at the same time?
Not only that, but we’ve got more friends and acquaintances in our social circles than ever before, yet loneliness and detachment has never been a bigger problem for people than it is now.
If you just expect your relationships with other people to be effortless and just work themselves out, you need a reality check.
Start with the decision to rekindle the connection you had with the first person that comes to mind.
We all have people in our lives that we could reach out to a little more often, so if you forgot to congratulate that old friend about her wedding six months ago or you haven’t talked to your brother since Christmas, now’s the time to get on that.
If you want to renew yourself this spring, that means renewing some of your relationships too.
And for the love of gravy, don’t try to get back in touch with someone close to you by text or Facebook Messenger!
I know, I hate talking on the phone too — but if you respect the person and value the relationship, you can do yourself and that other person a favour by picking up the phone (or Skype or FaceTime or whatever) to call them and/or see them in person.
Heck, if it felt like you and your spouse were kind of in a rut over the winter, why not make a plan to spice things up a little with a regular date night or something else new and exciting that you can do together?
“Whatever the reason, actively working on friendships in the same way as to maintain a marriage is a prerequisite to happiness,” says Psychologist Richard Tunney, in response to a study he did on how friendships affect people’s level of happiness.
Consistently nourishing your relationships isn’t all that easy when it’s so tempting to just like your friends’ and family members’ Facebook statuses instead, but it’s a necessity if you want more satisfaction and fulfillment in your life.
According to that friendship study, having at least 10 people you consider to be good, close friends is ideal — and regularly seeking new ones to add to your social circle is good too.
Should you be freaking out if you don’t have 10 good friends?
I don’t think so.
Studies don’t always draw the best conclusions or tell the whole story, and since this one seems to put those with 30 or 40 friends on a pedestal of ultimate satisfaction with their own lives, I think it’s worth noting that the quality of your friendships will always be far more important than the quantity of friends you have.
And that’s exactly why you need to pick up the phone and call that one person you’re thinking about right now — regardless of exactly how many people in your life you consider to be friends or closest to you.
“I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.” — Steve Southerland
Give up a bad habit, pursue a new skill, and call an old friend.
Can you do it?
YOU TOTALLY CAN.
Do it to get yourself out of that weird winter rut, do it to reawaken your sense of meaning, and do it as a favour to yourself for your own well being.
And buy yourself the biggest, most colourful bouquet of springtime flowers you can find, while you’re at it.
Flowers make everything better — especially this time of year.
- 30 glorious snippets of wisdom worth knowing by the time you’re 30 (or any age, really) - December 31, 2016
- The divided self: Why we care way too much about what other people think - August 14, 2016
- What everyone gets wrong about “being authentic” - July 3, 2016
- 7 eye-opening ways to forget about your goals so you can let happiness flow - June 20, 2016
- Why you won’t do all the things you want to do this summer - June 13, 2016
- 50 everyday things you can give up to make time for more important stuff - April 30, 2016
- How to go from waking up miserable to exhilarated every morning - April 18, 2016
- How to align your mind to get exactly what you want - April 3, 2016
- Why we’re so bad at sticking to good habits (and what to do about it) - March 19, 2016
- 6 useful tips for dealing with an all-around bad day - June 30, 2015