Are you happy? Are you happy every day? Do you wake up happy? Do you go to sleep happy? My answers to all four questions are: YES! I don't want to go to sleep at night because I am enjoying life so much that I just want to stay up and continue being happy. I've fallen asleep on the couch more nights than I care to admit, as I tried to stay awake. I realize I'm in the minority here and this is not how it is for most people. I started to think about how I live my life and came up with the following list of things that keep me "sane in an insane world".
Workout: I started working out in high school and will be doing it for the rest of my life. The gym is my second home. The endorphin high relieves stress and alters negative states of mind. Exercise tells your cells that they should grow instead of decay. If you don't make time for exercise, you must eventually make time for illness.
Diet: How and what we eat affects our bodies (both inside and out), energy and mood. It's important to stick to a healthy diet most of the time and "cheat" only once in a while. I am currently within 3 pounds of my high school weight and plan to be in that range for the rest of my life.
Meditation: Once you experience the benefits of meditation, you won't be able to live without it. You will actually crave it. You become more intuitive and are able to remain calm in stressful situations. If I don't get a chance to meditate, I'm not as peaceful and grounded as I like to be.
Spiritual / religious foundation: Believing in a higher power gives us strength in both good times and bad. It grounds us when we have been coming from our ego and reminds us that we are spirits in a material world. My weekly Buddhist class always brings me back down to earth if I start to get to take myself too seriously.
Sleep: Most people need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. Your body needs to renew itself at night. If you regularly have trouble sleeping, do the things on this list and you'll find that you'll be able to fall asleep easier.
A Passion: I love, love, love my weekly, Latin dance class. I wouldn't miss it for the world. I'm in a childlike state the entire class – joking around and laughing. You have to have something to look forward to every week that makes your spirit sing. Find your passion.
Music: When you start to take life too seriously, you can change your mood instantly by listening to music that moves you. If you're feeling down, play something upbeat. I usually have relaxing music playing in the background at home – it instantly changes the whole vibe.
Reading: Just like your body, you need to feed your mind. You become more attractive when you are well read and can carry on an interesting, intelligent conversation. I am addicted to reading and as a result, can talk to anyone about almost anything.
Meaningful Conversations: I have a ton of friends but I'm lucky to have 3 great friends who I can talk to about anything and they listen actively and give me honest, intelligent feedback. We all need someone to talk to – it's a lot less expensive than therapy.
Pampering: Life is about balance. You need to take care of the body, mind and soul equally. When you feel stressed out, pamper yourself. Sometimes a luxurious bubble bath with music and candles is all you need.
Massage: This is usually viewed as a luxury, but I believe it is a necessity. The benefits of massage range from improved immune system to improved joint flexibility and everything in between. If you can't afford to do it on a regular basis, go to a massage school where the rates are much lower.
Love: Love is all around you. It can come from anywhere – a romantic partner, a parent, sibling, friend, neighbor, pet or nature. Be as open to giving it as you are to receiving it.