Too often we think of our happiness and well-being as by-products of our success in life – “I’ll be happy when I get a promotion” or “I’ll feel better as soon as this project is complete.” We make our well-being a goal to be reached at a later date, dependent on the actions of others or conditional to other aspects of our lives. In doing so, we deprive ourselves of the possibility of health and happiness right now.

Guess what? We can’t live later, we live now. If we put off our own well-being until later, it’s too late.

Instead of a future goal, we must treat our happiness and well-being as an ongoing process. It is something we create for ourselves rather than something we earn or are given by others. Making the switch isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Here are five tips to empower yourself to create health and happiness today:

1. Take Ownership

It’s your health and your body; take ownership of it. When we claim that we don’t have control, we give up our responsibility and allow ourselves to rest on excuses and habits that set us back. It’s true that we can’t control everything, but when you cultivate an attitude of ownership over your body and mind, you empower yourself to make good choices and change your habits. Taking responsibility for our own well-being is the first step on a journey towards better physical and mental health.

2. Change the Way You Talk to Yourself

There was a time when “I can’t” was a common statement I made, often in regards to my health. It took me many years to realize that words have great power, and that the way that I think and speak has a big effect on my body and mind. All of those “I can’t”s have the power to keep us trapped in a negative place and shut down the possibility of positive growth and change.

The way we talk to ourselves has profound power in creating the way we perceive and react to the world around us. Instead of “I can’t”, try telling yourself “I can” instead. Get into the habit of responding with positivity instead of negativity — in doing this, we release our body and mind into the endless possibilities of the present moment and free ourselves from stress and anxiety.

3. Run a Self-Analysis

If you want to make positive changes in your life, then you have to know what to change. In a compelling post at tinybuddha.com, personal trainer and wellness coach Amy Clover suggests the following self-analysis:

Sit down with a pen and paper (or just open up Word), and start jotting down what you’re unhappy with in your life.

Be specific. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to take the next step.

Visit all aspects of your life: relationships, work, health, free time, etc.

This can be an enlightening experience. How many areas of your life are you unhappy with? Are there more than you thought, or fewer? How does that feel?”

Don’t be too hard on yourself, but be realistic. Be honest about how your bad behaviors and habits are affecting your life so you can begin to see a clear path to change.

4. Set Small Goals

Once you have identified areas in which you are unhappy, it’s time to make some changes. Start small. Harvard Health Blog quotes Dr. Edward Phillips:

Find something that’s a 2% change, like walking ten minutes a day. Go for a walk at lunch, walk while you’re talking on the phone. What’s the smallest change you can make and be confident you can do it? I’ve met very few patients who can’t do that.”

When we set small, achievable goals, we give ourselves the opportunity to set a precedent for success and get the ball rolling in a positive direction. Once you’ve made that 2% change, getting to 5% is easy, and suddenly you’re changing your life in small, but significant ways.

5. Make a Daily Commitment

It’s very tempting to turn our goals into one more far-off future achievement, but ideally we should enjoy the journey as well as the end result. To stay “in the moment” with your well-being, check in with yourself regularly. Be proud of each small achievement and don’t punish yourself for the inevitable setbacks, instead find the joy in getting back on track.

Remind yourself that your health and happiness exist for the present moment as well as for your future self. Enjoy the process of stretching yourself, even the discomfort you might feel is a reminder that you are alive and full of possibilities!

The shift from living “for the future” to “in the moment” is a difficult one, but the rewards are incredible. I am constantly seeking ways to cultivate my own present-consciousness, and will be writing much more on the subject.

How do you create happiness and well-being for yourself? Tweet me @ace_wagner and share your thoughts!

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