small and significant

You may be a small part of this world, but you are not insignificant!

Category: Health and happiness

Things to consider doing if you want to become healthier and happier

I am aware most, if not all, of these probably won’t be news to you, but perhaps this list can still serve as a motivation and a little reminder to be kind to yourself and make the most of life 🙂 I also know that we are all different and have different dreams, which is why I tried to connect this as little as possible to my own and only collected those points that I think most people would confirm increase their health and happiness.

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

‘I Lived’ by OneRepublic
  • drink enough water
  • eat mostly whole foods & a good variety of them (if you have really bad cravings for unhealthy, processed foods often, there are websites that give you helpful tips on which healthy foods can satisfy different cravings, e.g. fresh orange juice can satisfy your craving for chocolate)
  • try listening to your body when it comes to when, how much, and what to eat -> intuitive eating (notice at what times during the day you are actually hungry and for what in contrast to when/what you would normally eat out of habit)
  • find a form of physical exercise that you enjoy (e.g. walking, dancing, swimming, yoga) and do it daily
  • stretch/massage/relax your muscles, especially after exercising or long stretches of time spent in the same position
  • go outside and get some fresh air & sun
  • find a form of artistic expression that you enjoy and practice it in your free time (e.g. writing, making music, dancing, drawing, acting)
  • find a form of expressing self-love that resonates with you (meditation, yoga, saying words of affirmation out loud to yourself)
  • spend quality time with friends & family (talking, being active/ creative, ideally away from technology)
  • spend less time on social media/ the internet/ electronic devices; use them only for content you feel actually interests you & adds value to your life instead of surfing mindlessly (try going without social media/ your phone for a while to find out what this means for you)
  • spend time by yourself without distractions, just thinking about the important questions (Where am I at right now? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do with my life? What do I have to do to get there?)
  • get rid of any posessions/midsets/habits/people that you might realise are holding you back from fulfilling your dreams -> minimalism in all aspects of life (having only what is important and adds value)
  • come up with some powerful thoughts/phrases that make you feel confident and motivated to take the necessary steps to become the best version of yourself (words of affirmation & words of motivation)
  • take some moments of stillness throughout the day to repeat these phrases to yourself so that you are constantly reminded of your goal and of the fact that you are worthy of it as well as able to achieve it
  • find a cause that is important to you (e.g. protection of the environment, animal rights, womens’ rights…) & find out how you can contribute to it (volunteering, lifestyle changes, activism, spreading awareness, donating)
  • try to be more present, really take in the experiences you are having in each moment -> take things more slowly, try not to rush/multi-task all the time (this will help you to better recognise and take valuable opportunities when they arise & will make you more aware of and thankful for the good things in your life)
  • always search for ways in which you can be kind to others (smile, avoid talking badly about people, make honest compliments, offer your help, ask people about how they are feeling and if there’s anything you could do to improve their day…)
  • become active now & take small steps everyday; don’t procrastinate on fulfilling your dreams!

Conclusion

In conclusion, take care of your physical health by improving your eating and exercising habits and of your mental health by being kind to yourself and others, spending time on the things you enjoy, practising mindfulness, and working on your ultimate goals. Become active now and take little steps everyday, they will add up to something great!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope it was able to inspire and motivate you to start taking small steps towards transforming your life for the better. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by all the crazy things going on around you and perhaps sometimes also in your mind during these confusing times in this hectic world. Try to focus on what’s important to you and trust that you are capable of achieving your dreams.

Overthinking about the past

When I was first told that I might be a perfectionist, I vehemently denied it, citing my reason as “not being very neat at all”. I knew that wasn’t really what she meant – but in that moment, I refused to believe it. I tried to dismiss it.

However, to my surprise, the idea kept creeping back to me – and as the days passed, I realized that, in a strange sort of way, she did have a point.

Every night, I would replay every single event I deemed as a “mistake” in my mind over and over again, in all its horrific glory – like a broken record tape I had absolutely no control over. And I would fall into the all-too-familiar cycle of overthinking about it until it nearly drove me crazy.

And of course, this kind of thinking only brings you misery; and suddenly life starts to become a collection of all the mistakes that you’ve ever made.

So how do I get over this?

Your mindset is a powerful tool – it can either be your problem or your solution. But changing it is easier said than done, and that’s why the first ingredient is time. This might seem slightly obvious – but don’t expect things to magically get better as soon as you set out to change things. Be patient with yourself.

The important thing is to avoid the temptation to fall into the pit hole of negativity. It’s so, so easy to fall into the abyss of overthinking. Of course, it’s hard to cut negativity out of your mind altogether completely. If a not-so-positive thought finds its way up to the surface, chances are, if you immediately try to force it down, it’ll probably come back to haunt you, whether you like it or not.  (kind of like a yo-yo, just not as fun.)

Recognize that point where you know you’re about to start overthinking. Pause – acknowledge it. Okay, so you’re feeling this way, and that’s perfectly valid. Try to rationalize what you’re overthinking about in your head, as if you were giving advice to a friend. Here’s an example: say you’re worried about how your teacher surely hates you now, and now you’re thinking about all the consequences that could possibly bring. You can’t help but start panicking. Your life is ruined, and you can’t go to school now and is there a way to bury yourself and never ever return –

Realistically, you know that your life is definitely not ruined in the long run, and that you probably have to go back to school. But in the moment, your emotions engulf you, and you can’t think of anything else.

So instead, you could try to think things through as logically as you can.

How do you know that your teacher definitely hates you? Are you a mind reader?

Probably not.

Is there any use worrying about it now?

Nooope.

Could you be doing other things right now? Things that make you happy?

Yep. Like watching that TV show you really like or talking with your friends.

If you can feel the negative thoughts pushing their way back up again, gnawing at you, trying to be noticed, remember this: the past is the past. It’s happened, and now you’re moving on to better things. It’s time to stop living your life in the past. 🙂

And finally? Love yourself a little more. You’ll find yourself enjoying life a lot more after realizing that you’re only human – a human that makes mistakes, just like everyone else.

Birthday present: 365 notes

365 notes in a box

My best friend´s birthday is coming up soon so I started thinking about the gift I could give to her a while ago. She is turning 18 so I wanted it to be something very special and personal. Suddenly, the idea of writing her 365 notes for every day of the year popped into my head and I knew that it was the perfect thing to do.

It was definitely a lot of work, but that only makes me more excited to give it to her soon. I thought I would share this with you in case you have been wondering about the perfect gift for a friend, too.

The categories

Basically, I came up with seven categories, one for each day of the week. All categories except one contain 52 notes. The seventh one contains one more to get to 365 in total. The categories I went with are:

  • compliments
  • tasks/challenges
  • memories
  • quotes about friendship
  • happy facts
  • hopes and wishes for the future
  • motivational quotes

The steps

First, you should start a new word document for every category and choose the different colours you want to use. Then, you can start making the lists. Take your time for this. It will stress you out very fast if you try to do it in a couple of days. Finding 52 things to put into every category can be quite challenging, but I can assure you that you will get there if this present is for someone you know well and like a lot. It took me a little more than two weeks and I think it would have been better for me had I given myself some more time.

When you are done making the lists, you can print them out. To make sure that the front and the back of the pages are colourful, you will have to insert a blank page in between every one of your full pages and one at the end of each document. Many printers will print the pages in white at first, even if you have chosen a background colour under “design”. To make them come out in colour, you have to change your preferences. This is very easy and if you have not already done something like this, there is a short tutorial on it on YouTube.

When the pages are all printed out, you just cut them into strips, one for each note and then start folding them. This can become really annoying after a while, so take your time, and trust me, it will be worth it in the end.

The result

Now you have 365 notes, divided into seven categories, nicely colour coded. The only thing left to do is to mix them and then put them into some kind of container. I have seen many people put them into huge glass jars, which looks very nice. I did not have one of those at home and just decided to put them into that cute suprise gift box you saw in the beginning. Maybe I will still change that, but I also like the way it looks now.

Why do I love this idea so much?

I think that this question can be answered very quickly. Writing 365 notes for a friend is a present in which you put a lot of time, effort and thought. Thus, it is one that will truly show your friend how much they mean to you. Moreover, it encourages them to be positive, mindful and thankful every single day of the year.

Conclusion

Writing 365 notes for a friend is in my eyes a great present, which shows them how much they mean to you and encourages them to be mindful and positive each day of the year. If you have a friend for whose birthday you are still looking for a present, I highly recommend this to you. It is a lot of work, so you should definetely give yourself enough time for it, but when you are done, it is really satisfying to see the result. Giving this present to my friend is something I am really looking forward to. I used seven categories for the notes: compliments, challenges, memories, wishes for the future, happy facts, quotes about friendship and motivational quotes.

If you decide to try this out too, please tell us how it went and how your friend reacted. It could truly have a positive impact on their life. Because remember: You may be a small part of this world, but you are not insignificant!

Feeling overwhelmed by the news

Information overload (dumblittleman.com)

I do not know about you, but I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we have access to nowadays because of the internet. I want to be well informed about what is going on in the world, but there are simply to many news outlets and too many articles and I cannot decide on what is important and what is not. Recently, this made me feel so discouraged that I decided I had to find a way to read the news and stay informed about the things most relevant to me without having to comb through unbelievable amounts of information.

If you happen to be a perfectionist like that, who just wants to be able to absorb all the relevant information in as little time as possible, you probably know, like me, that this kind of expectation for yourself can be really distressing and exhausting. This is why I want to share with you my journey to having a more relaxed relationship with the daily news. Maybe this blog post will inspire you to try it yourself.

The mindset

Anxiety happens when you feel like you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You are strong. You got this. Take it day by day.

Karen Salmansohn

The first thing you have to realise is that what you are worrying about is not an insurmountable and not even a very important issue. Believe me, I have been so overwhelmed by all the information available to me, I have cried about it. All because it triggered in me the feeling that I would never be able to keep track of everything going on in the world. Somehow, seeing all these articles, photos, documentaries, interviews… made me feel like I was not good enough.

When I think about it right now, it sounds like I was way too overdramatic. Now that I am starting to get over this problem I had with the news, it almost seems ridiculous that I was crying to myself about not being able to read about all the depressing things going on in the world – because, sadly, the news mostly show us the negative stuff.

However, I know how real this feeling of being overwhelmed and sad was and it is not totally gone. I still feel it creeping up on me sometimes. And in that moment, it does not feel ridiculous at all. On the contary, feeling like one´s not good enough is a horribe feeling.

But I hope that, if you have the same problem as me, you can start to see that this is not about you not being smart or informed enough. There is just too much information and there is absolutely no need for you to know all of it. Informing yourself about what is going on in the world should not feel like an obligation. You should do it because you want to read about the things you are interested in – and only about these.

Think about what you want to read

You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way, can illuminate the world.

oprah winfrey

What is important to you? What are the headlines and news stories that stick with you? What would you not want to miss?

I think it is really sad if we just consume the news as quickly as possible, not really paying attention to what we are reading. If we do this, and I have done it myself for a long time, it only shows that we are not interested in what we are reading. And when we are not interested, we do not remember it. Thus, trying to get informed about the world in this way is simply a waste of time. The only thing it does is make you unhappy.

Consequently, it is crucial that you find the topics that you are interested in and the news outlets that give you the best information on them. Of course, it is always good to compare news outlets and to sometimes read articles about other topics to broaden your horizon. However, never make this an obligation for yourself. If you force it, it will not be effective.

I personally like Aljazeera a lot. They give me information on the most pressing issues and conflicts around the world. As I am interested in Sustainable Development, for which peace is a key factor, this kind of news is important. I look at the most recent headlines on their very nicely organised website every morning and click only on those that really interest me. If I have time, I will additionally watch some documentary or interview on a topic I am particularly interested in while I make myself lunch. This way, I am aware of the most important world news and I can become very well informed on those stories that are important to me. And this way, they stick with me.

Spend less time on the news and more on making your own experiences

As I have already said, only spend time on those news that you think bring value to your life. This does not mean reading only about the positive things. It just means that the news should become more of a thought-provoking impulse for you, something that intrigues you so much that you spend time on critically thinking about it. This is the only way news can become valuable for you.

The information that will stick with you the most are the experiences that you make yourself. I am not saying that you have to leave home and travel the world for this. Intriguing and enlightening experiences can be had everywhere. Everyone has a story to tell and it always feels more valuable if you hear a story from a person right in front of you than if you just spend a couple of seconds on reading a headline.

You do not have to spend hours every day reading or watching the news to be `well informed´. I mean, what does that even signify? With all the information available today, who could possibly say which information is necessary to be well informed and which is not? You do not have to spend hours every day reading or watching the news and you definetely do not have to do it to please anyone or to be `good enough´.

Conclusion

Try to find out what kinds of news stories are important to you. It is not worth it spending time on articles that do not interest or touch you because they will not stick with you. As soon as you stop consuming the news and start using it as a tool to broaden you knowledge on the topics you find intriguing, you will stop feeling discouraged by all the information. You will find that most of it is not important at all. Because, in the end, who do you want to please with this endless race to be `well informed´? The only person, or at the very least the primary person you should want to please when learning something is yourself. So why force yourself to comb through this mountain of information that only makes you unhappy? The news should inspire you to learn more about the world and they should make you feel empowered to do something about the sad stories that are told from all over the world. Because remember: you may be a small part of this world, but you are not insignificant!

Mind full or mindful?

Mind Full or Mindful?

Today, I came across this picture and a video on the amazing YouTube channel Pick Up Limes and both reminded me of something that I really struggle with and as this blog was created so that I could open up a little more and maybe even inspire or help some other people, I figured I should maybe write a little bit about it.

Today is a gift

Maybe you have already read or heard the phrase `Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mistery, today is a gift, that´s why it´s called The Present´. I love it because it reminds me every time of how useless all the negative thoughts are that occupy my mind. Surely, many people can identify with that picture at the beginning, even though the thoughts that continually distract us from being present might be very different.

My personal problem is that I think too much about the future, that my mind is always making plans, always expecting me to do more and more. I can never really appreciate when I have achieved something. Maybe I have broken a habit that made me feel bad or finished a work-intensive project for school or I have learned about a completely new topic because of a good book or an online course. But somehow, I cannot appreciate that. I admire all the people who get things done, who set themselves a goal and achieve it, however I never notice when I do that myself. My mind is constantly occupied with finding the next challenge, the next project, the next big piece of work. The thought always is: `If I do this, then I will finally feel like I am good enough´.

If I do this…then I will finally feel like I am good enough

However, no matter what I do, I never get that feeling. On the one hand, that is because I compare myself with others, particularly with other people who are about my age who already reach and inspire so many people, who seem to have a big impact and at the same time to be completely at peace with themselves. In comparison to that, I sometimes feel like my life does not make sense, like what I do will never have a big and positive enough impact to `pay back´ the world for having allowed me to be here.

Maybe all of this sounds crazy to you, maybe even unthankful for all the opportunities I have. And I get it. It is just very hard to fight those negative thoughts and feelings. They are like a big, dark wave that swallows everything positive. Maybe some others can identify with what I have just described and I hope that, with this blog post, I can make you feel a little bit less alone and a little more important.

Planning happiness

No matter if you are constantly distracted by thoughts about the future, like I am, or by thoughts about the past, you might wish to let go of them, to be more present and more thankful for every moment. Very often nowadays, on the internet, people present to you these solutions that are supposed to work wonders on every single one of us. That is not how it works. We are all very different when it comes to how and where we find happiness, but I think we all want to find it. And if you are like me, you want a list of things to do, and a schedule for exactly when to do what and you want the entire `recipe for happiness´ to work as fast as possible.

I am only now starting to realise that that is not how it is going to work, that I am not going to be happy if I establish the `perfect´ routine, including waking up ridiculously early, doing yoga, eating a bunch of berries, reading a huge load of books in different languages even though I might not even like the story, and at the same time squeezing in as much school work, online courses and voluntary work as possible. Even though doing some of these things might make you or me feel really good about ourselves, what is important is that we actually want to do them, that we feel like they bring value to our lives. An that is what I never understood over the past couple of years where I stubbornly tried to improve myself while actually ruining my happines.

I have always been a planner and an organiser and I could never help looking at the clock every ten minutes to make sure I was on schedule. And the sad thing about this was, that I was doing it even on the weekends or during the holidays, that all the things I `had to do´ were things that I forced upon myself and that I often did not enjoy them in the slightest. I do enjoy reading, learning languages, and informing myself about sustainability and the environment. But I also enjoy dancing, spending time with family and friends and going on walks. The effect of my obsession with becoming `good enough´ was that I forced myself to spend so much time doing certain things that I had at some point enjoyed that they started frustrating me and making me sad. At the same time, I was completely neglecting other things that bring me joy, like spending time with my family or dancing.

`Follow your heart´ might be hackneyed, but nothing could be more true

Eventually, all of this brought me to the point where I am now and I can honestly tell you that I am exhausted and do not at all feel like I am good enough or happy. Over the past months, I have stopped doing what I enjoyed and what I felt like doing and replaced it with a strict routine and schedule that have only made me feel less significant and less valuable.

What I am planning to do to get my mindfulness, my positivity, my love for life back is to start spending my days without constantly looking at the clock and with doing exactly what I feel will bring me joy in that moment. If you find yourself in a similar situation as me, I want to tell you that I understand, that I know how hard it can be to have all these expectations for yourself. We might not know each other but if we share this feeling of never being good enough, this feeling of emptiness and insignificance, we share a very heavy burden and we can try to overcome it together.

Try spending some time not looking at the clock, your schedule, or social media. Spend some time with yourself and with the people you love doing the things you love. Go outside, dance like nobody is watching, laugh and read a book or watch a movie you love. Life is too precious and too beautiful to be spent with toxic thoughts. YOU are too precious and too beautiful to let life slip through your fingers as fast as it often does without having enjoyed the little but meaningful moments.

Conclusion

I know it is hard sometimes to let go of all the negative thoughts that occupy our minds, whether they are about the past or the future. In this blog post, I have tried to open up a little, to tell you about my problem with always thinking that I am not good enough, that whatever I do will never suffice to have a big, positive impact and to make me happy. Some of you might be able to relate to that, others might more often be occupied with thoughts and regrets from the past. What we all have in common is that our minds make us forget about the present, about the beautiful things that are happening right in front of us and that we can be a part of. If we think too much about what we want to do or who we want to be in the future, we might miss ever having a real future at all, one in which we feel alive, loved and important. I see that the conclusion is getting way too long again ´:), so I am going to try to finally put it in a nutshell. I know it can be hard, but what is important is that you understand that you have to stop using the phrase `If I do this…I´ll be happy´ because if you do not, you will continue to waste your time with expectations for yourself that make you feel inferior and sad. Spend the moments of the present in a way that brings you joy now, not in a way that you think will at some point lead to happiness but that makes you sad now. You will be able to have an impact, to be a part of positive change, if you stop making plans for it and start today, as small as that start may be. Because remember: You may be small, but you are not insignificant!