26 Simple Ways to Completely Change Your Life - This American Girl




Make no mistake, selling everything that you own, traveling by yourself all over the world, and living by the beach in the lush tropical jungle will completely change your life.


How could it not?




Dramatic changes that flip your external world upside down have a way of transforming you on the inside. They have a way of waking you up to another way of living and thinking. And that’s certainly been my experience. Coming to Costa Rica over four years ago is what initially woke me up to a more meaningful, fulfilling life.


That said, you don’t have to change continents or careers or anything huge, to completely change your life. You don’t have to quit your job and live out of a backpack to go on a deep journey of introspection.




I’ve changed countries every week and beds every other day and lacked the clarity I’ve felt sitting in the dark in silence with my breath. I’ve met people who have been vagabonding for years who still live out the same unconscious patterns they’ve held onto their entire lives.


And I know that some of the biggest changes that have occurred in my life have not been dependent on traveling the world or living an unconventional life. They’ve been a result of small, daily practices, that have slowly guided me to a more loving, joyful, awakened Earthly existence.




I believe that no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter how you live, there are ways for you to find the transformation that your soul craves. With or without traveling the world to discover it. Because sometimes, the biggest transformation occurs by making the smallest, simplest shifts.


That’s why today, I’m sharing the small, simple, specific, and relatively easy ways that I’ve found a deeper, juicier, yummier way of living in this world. Many take less than five minutes and can be done no matter where you are.




Of course, let’s not get extreme here. Were you to try everything on the list all at once, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day. Notice what jumps out at you, what makes your heart sing, and maybe pick one single thing on the list, and practice it every day for the next month.


Here we go!




1. Slow Down


Aye aye aye, this is a very simple one, albeit a very hard one for many of us. In a world that operates in fast motion, sometimes the hardest thing to do is just be still. Though as difficult as it may be, slowing down is essential for health and happiness.


Think about how often in your day you operate in stress mode. How often are there impending deadlines and pressures? For many of us, we operate in this state nearly all of the time. What happens is that our bodies actually forget how to relax and we exist in that fight or flight mode, a state of animalistic fear, almost all of the time. No bueno.


The only way to reset is to SLOW IT DOWN. How? Take moments to sit and take deep inhales and exhales. Inhale to the count of five and exhale to the count of six, repeat for five minutes. Spend ten minutes laying with your legs extended up the wall and you back on the ground. Hold a nice yummy hip opening stretch like child’s pose for five minutes at a time. All of these exercises trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, which enables you to fully relax.


And relaxation is the only way to give your body and your mind the space they need to heal, release, and open to new possibilities.




2. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset


One of my favorite ways to slow down is to wake up with sunrise and wind down with the sunset. By following these cycles that occur in nature, we tune in with the rhythm of nature and our bodies adjust naturally. Can you commit to one day a week, where you either wake up and watch the sunrise in absolute silence, or decide to wrap up your day before watching the sunset somewhere out in nature?




3. Pay Attention to the Way That You Breathe


Developing breath awareness has been one of the single most important skills I’ve learned in life. Breath is essential for our survival, yet many of us rarely give it any thought. Breath has the ability to shift our energy from rapid and forceful to calm and surrendered. If we know how to use it, it can be a tremendous source of support.


Play with starting your morning or ending your evening with pure breath awareness. Set a timer for five minutes and count the length of your inhale and the length of your exhale. Practice breathing in and out through your nose with your mouth closed. Try to have your exhale last one count longer than the inhale, but allow the breath to flow without much effort or force. You’ll likely notice your body and mind become calmer almost instantly.


Then take the practice with you into your day. When you notice stress arise, take a long slow steady inhale through the nose and exhale out through the nose. Or perhaps for a bigger release, let it out through your mouth with a sigh. The more you practice the more you’ll remember to turn to your breath, a wellspring of support and love.




4. Start the Day in Silence


Much more difficult if you have young children, but I love love love this one! Practice spending the first thirty minutes of your morning in absolute silence. Why? It honors the sacredness of the morning when your mind is still clear and the day is full of possibility. Allow yourself the peace without outside distraction, and take the time to meditate, stretch, sit in nature, or mindfully sip your tea or coffee. When I start the morning this way, I feel a greater sense of stillness and peace throughout my day. Even if you have roommates or a partner or kids, encourage them to respect your morning silence and maybe they’ll even get into it themselves.




5. Wake Up and Dance

And on the other end of the spectrum, sometimes we need to start our day with sound and movement! One of my favorite ways to start the day is with a party, an absolute celebration of life, which for me comes in the form of dance. I particularly love this one on rainy days or in the winter when we need that extra motivation.


I find that it works best if I choose a song the night before (maybe you want to experiment with dancing to the same song every morning, which I also enjoy) so that as soon as you wake up it’s cued. Before doing anything else, put on the song, and with your eyes closed, dance for the duration of the song. Dance is a form of meditation in it’s own right and fills me with happiness that I carry with me for the entire day.




6. Hula Hoop


In the same vein as pure ecstatic dance, there’s something oh so liberatingly joyful about hula hooping. Oh ya, hoop for happiness! A lot of us hooped as kids, yet somehow forgot this simple form of play as adults. Pick up a hula hoop second hand or from a store like Target and use it in the morning in lieu of exercise, bring it to the park, or use it during breaks at work. Some good hooping music helps as does a silly attitude.




7. Drink a Green Smoothie


What on earth would I do without green smoothies? There’s something so satisfying and so energizing about starting every morning with one. I feel awake, clean, and ready to take on anything. Plus, it takes the pressure out of making sure I get enough greens throughout the day. If I decide to go out to dinner with friends and there’s no kale on the menu, it’s no biggie because I had my smoothie.


My favorite way to build a smoothie is to start with some frozen banana, add lots of dark leafy greens (I use a whole bunch of kale but you may want to start out with less), water kefir as the liquid, tahini or avocado for the fat, perhaps another fruit like berries or mango, celery or cucumber if I’m in the mood, then load up on my superfoods like cacao, chia, maca, and flax. Blend til creamy and feel your heart fly.




8. Use Essential Oils


I started using high quality, food grade essential oils about a year ago and the benefits have astounded me. From healing a sore throat overnight to creating my own beauty products to feeling instant peace and calm, I’m pretty convinced that there’s nothing essential oils can’t do. For more info on how I use these oils and which ones I recommend, check out my post Why I’m Obsessed With Essential Oils.




9. Make Kefir


If you make one single shift in your diet, start drinking water kefir every single day. This beverage, which is so easy to make, is full of probiotics that protect you against harmful bacteria, boost your immune system, and improves your digestion. It’s more effective than probiotic pills, yogurt, or purchased probiotic beverages, and much cheaper. Even better, the bacteria grows so you can divide it and share it with others!


To learn more about water kefir, read my guide How to Travel the World and Never Get Food Poisoning.




10. Do a Coffee Enema


Yes, I am actually suggesting that you insert a tube up your bum and fill your colon with coffee first thing in the morning. Am I absolutely fucking crazy? Maybe, but there’s real science behind it, and in my experience it feels oh so totally amazing.


Coffee enemas are one of the most powerful ways to not only cleanse your colon, but also to cleanse your liver. Disease starts in the colon, and cleansing it regularly prevents illness, cancer, and makes your skin glow like nobody’s business. The liver cleanse helps your body detox more efficiently and offers an incredible lightness.


Perhaps even more effectively, when I’m regularly cleansing, I’m way more aware of what I put in my body. If I start the week with a coffee enema, alcohol and sugar are the LAST things I want to ingest. I’m more likely to drink more water and nourish myself with clean food.


If you want more information on coffee enemas, with instructions on how to safely administer them at home, check out this article.




11. Develop a Morning Ritual


Whether you clean out your colon with coffee or drink greens for breakfast or meditate with your breath or watch the sunrise or dance in your PJs, just do SOMETHING, ONE THING every morning, just for you. A ritual that honors and acknowledges the start of the day. A ritual that reminds you that you are living your life on purpose. One thing, every morning, just for you, to honor that you deserve it.




12. Spend Time Alone


Being alone can be extremely challenging for those of us who aren’t accustomed to it. Maybe we have so many commitments that as much as we crave it we rarely get time alone. On the contrary, maybe we’re so afraid of being alone that we avoid it at all costs. Whatever the reason, alone time is key to truly develop a relationship with yourself.


Make it a priority to regularly take time away from other people, away from the screen and social media, and go somewhere peaceful to just be with yourself. Take a nice walk, watch the sunset, sit quietly in a room and breathe. The more time you spend alone, really getting to know yourself, listening to yourself, the more you will learn from yourself. This is a tremendous gift to be cherished.


Taking alone time is not selfish. The more you show up for yourself, and give yourself this much needed alone time, the more you can offer your support and energy to others. You must overflow from within to truly give to others and you must deeply know yourself to truly know others.




13. Take More Adventures


When you’re subject to time restraints and schedules, it’s easy to live on auto pilot. Days melt into one another and we forget about the magic of synchronicity and the excitement of uncertainty. That’s why we must take more adventures.


Adventure can come in the form of quitting your job and traveling the world, but it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. It can mean backpacking through Laos for your two-week vacation instead of lounging in an all inclusive resort. Or it can even be as simple as trying a strange fruit in the grocery store or walking a route you wouldn’t normally take or striking up a conversation with a complete stranger.


When you approach life with a sense of curiosity and openness, seemingly mundane activities can become absolute adventures. Take a risk and step outside of your comfort zone, in whatever form that presents itself, and notice what opens within you in the process.




14. Digitally Disconnect


I’m willing to bet that the greatest addiction of our generation is technology. We’ve grown so accustomed to constantly reaching for devices, consulting Google for answers, seeking social media for social validation, and using a screen to rescue us from boredom. While technology has tremendous benefits and when used consciously can be a tool for greater good, we’ve become so reliant on it that we’ve created a worldwide distraction from a little something I like to call REAL LIFE.


To break the addiction we must learn to detach from the digital world. This requires an actual detox. Time that we consciously schedule to disconnect completely. I’ve done this by scheduling “no wifi” weekends, where I keep myself from going online from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, and scheduling certain times of the day where I’m “allowed” to go online. Getting away somewhere off the grid is also a great way to digitally disconnect.


Once you’ve detoxed, you’ll be less inclined to automatically reach for your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning or check your email right before bed. Let your use of technology be a conscious choice, not an automated response.




15. Go on a Retreat


A wonderful way to incorporate so many of the items on this list in a rapidly transformative way, is by going on a retreat. Retreats help you hit the reset button by living in constant self care and consciousness. They dramatically shift daily life and open us to the possibility of living in harmony with ourselves, each other, and nature.


Retreats don’t have to be a big commitment, many yoga studios offering weekend retreats in locations close by. That said, I find it even more potent to take a retreat somewhere totally foreign. A few times a year I offer women’s retreats in the lush jungle and beach of Costa Rica, with a focus on healing our relationships with nature, our relationships with ourselves, and our relationships with other women. Get more information or sign up for a future retreat here.




16. Give People Compliments


In a world where so many of us feel so inadequate, jealously is rampant. We compare ourselves to others, feel small in the process, then mentally or verbally tear them down to feel better about ourselves. So what’s the remedy? GIVE PEOPLE COMPLIMENTS.


The moment that you notice something in someone that might trigger insecurity, genuinely compliment the person instead. In the process you break down the barrier and open the path to deeper human connection. Likely they’re just as insecure as you are and your compliment may be just what they needed. At the same time, the moment you compliment someone, you free yourself to see your own greatness. It’s a win-win.




17. Give Yourself Compliments


For some of us, complimenting others comes easily. We can so clearly see the beauty and the brilliance in another face, yet we miss it in our own reflection. Perhaps it’s because in our society we’ve been taught that it’s egotistical to think highly of ourselves, to compliment ourselves, to love ourselves.


Nonsense! It’s our egos who think we’re unworthy. It’s our egos who think we’re not good enough. It’s our egos who withhold self love. If we could actually see how infinite we are, our egos would dissolve instantly.


If you need the permission, let me offer it to you now. You have unlimited permission to compliment yourself as often as possible. In fact, I recommend that every single day you take a moment to silently give yourself at least three truly, genuine, compliments, without apology or apprehension. You’re worth it.




18. Sing Out Loud


When I entered adolescence, I stopped singing. I felt shy and ashamed, insecure and concerned that my voice wasn’t good enough to share. I thought I’d be laughed at or made fun of, or maybe it would be rude to subject people to my voice. And it wasn’t until I became a yoga teacher that this really changed.


In my yoga teacher training, we chanted and sang multiple times per day. It felt wonderful and beautiful and I started singing alone to myself at the ocean, but I was still shy to share it with others. When I started teaching yoga, I remember being terrified to even lead the “Om” at the end of class. I worried how my voice would sound. So, as much as it scared me, I decided to challenge myself to sing or chant in every single class that I taught.


These days I sing loud and proud daily. I share my voice with anyone who cares to listen. I sing for strangers, with friends, on my bicycle, and most importantly for myself. The funny thing is, everyone now tells me what a beautiful voice I have.


No matter what your voice sounds like, you deserve to let it ring out. Just a like a crow or a frog or a cicada, you too have a song to be shared. Start by singing by yourself, then bring it into a safe circle of friends where you can share songs together. Watch how you become more and more liberated the more you share it.




19. Listen to Medicine Music


Ever noticed how a single song can shift your energy entirely? It can lift you up so high, give you so much energy, bring you to tears, and offer you that sweet release. Choose music that elevates your vibration and helps you step out of your ego. Some of my favorite artists for conscious, uplifting music include Nahko and Medicine for the People, Ayla Nero, MC Yogi, Wah!, and Trevor Hall.




20. Imagine You’re a Unicorn


Oh yes, own your inner unicorn! Or maybe it’s a mermaid goddess. Or a badass warrior. Or a hawk or a wolf or a shark or a jaguar. Whatever image makes you feel empowered and sublimely worthy, meditate on that. Spend five minutes, or however much time you have, visualizing yourself embodying this divine creature. Actually feel what it’s like to be that amazing. And poof, it happens! You become your highest self in that precise moment!


Then give yourself permission to call on that sensation as often as possible, as a reminder of how special and amazing you are. Act from that idea of self. Because that’s who you really are. A unicorn mermaid warrior jaguar. Yep. That’s how awesome you actually are.




21. Practice Metta


Love, pure love, love without fear or grasping, is your truest, most authentic self. Anything about you that is not love is simply an illusion here to help you remember your way back to love. The practice of metta is a way to cultivate loving kindness towards yourself and others through meditation, to bring you back to your original state of perfect love.


In the yogic tradition, Metta is practiced as the Sanskrit chant “lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu” which roughly translates to “may all beings everywhere be happy, may all beings everywhere be at peace, may all beings everywhere be free from suffering, and let it begin with me.” However metta can come in whatever form feels best for you. Metta can be as simple as repeating the mantra, “I am love,” telling people that you love them, sending loving thoughts or wishes to others, or placing your hand on your heart and telling yourself, “I love you.”


To read my guided metta meditation and learn how I’ve used this practice to transform my life, check out my post Why I Practice Love.




22. Learn Reiki


Want to instantly heal yourself of any ailment and offer the same to others? Get attuned in Reiki. Yes, Reiki is actually that powerful. With Reiki I’ve helped a friend release his migraine in ten minutes. I’ve instantly experienced relief from menstrual cramps simply with the touch of my hands. I’ve felt tremendous self love, connected with my highest self, understood the emotional challenges within myself and others, and received all kinds of higher wisdom through Reiki. For me, Reiki is the purest sensation of divine love. Amazingly a level I Reiki course can be done in a weekend and costs less than $200. From there, it’s in your hands to practice and share the gift.




23. Consciously Masturbate


Yep, I said it. Masturbate. Touch yourself. Rub yourself. Kiss yourself. Lick yourself. Make sweet love to yourself. Masturbation, when done with the intention of self-love, is a beautiful, beautiful thing. You, more than anyone, deserve your love. Whether you’re single or in partnership, give it to yourself.


Think about it, when you’re in a safe, secure relationship with someone you’re passionately in love with, do you withhold sexual intimacy from them? Do you bang out a quickie just for the sake of the orgasmic release? Do you go months, or even years, without doing it because you “don’t have the time?”


Or do you kiss and caress every part of their body and then hold them afterwards and tell them how amazing they are? Do you make it a priority amongst all else because the intimate connection is that important? Why do you deserve anything less than the physical love you’d offer your most adored lover? Why do you deserve any less of your own time or importance or attention?


Read more about how masturbation has helped me in my post How I Found My Soul Mate on the Road.




24. Allow Yourself to Receive


All too often vulnerability is seen as sharing your voice, your expression, your truth, your gushy bits. But as someone who has literally put naked photos of herself on the internet and shared her deepest darkest emotional trials with millions of strangers, there is something so much more vulnerable than letting yourself be seen. It’s letting yourself RECEIVE.


How hard is it to open yourself to love, kindness, offerings from someone else? How hard it is to let goodness come to you? How hard it is to ACCEPT how deserving you are? For me, it’s extremely fucking hard.


Which is why it takes conscious practice. Start by letting yourself receive from the person you trust the most: yourself. Give yourself offerings, then receive them. Make a delicious nourishing spectacular meal, just for you. Not to impress or please anyone else. Eat it and receive the love in it. Pick yourself a bouquet of flowers. Place a chocolate on your pillow. Give yourself the offerings like the god or goddess that you truly are.


As you learn to receive your own love, with time you can open to receiving the love that others are right there just waiting to give you.




25. Say “No” Sometimes


Would you feel more open to receive knowing that you can always say no? You don’t have to receive everything. You don’t have to accept every offer. And you don’t have to give all of the time either. You have absolute permission to say no whenever you want to. When said kindly, an honest “no” is far more respectful than an hesitant “yes.” Say no so that you can definitively say yes to what really matters to you in life. Say no to honor and respect the boundaries that you are worthy and deserving of having. Saying no doesn’t make you a less open hearted or compassionate being. It makes you someone who understands what it means to truly love yourself first.




26. Thank Everything and Everyone for Helping You


Beyond everything else on this list, there is one simple mental shift that when practiced consistently, will without a doubt change your life completely. It’s a radical shift in perspective called EVERYTHING IS HERE TO HELP YOU.


In a world where it’s so easy to feel like a victim, to blame yourself, to blame others, to blame the universe, the words, “thank you for helping me,” are the boldest you could possibly utter. These five words turn a catastrophe into an adventure, an enemy into a great teacher, and a broken heart into a grand awakening.


When you start thanking the world and everyone in it for helping you, you’ll notice that they actually do. You learn that you’re not on this path or this journey alone. You’re surrounded by blessings that come in so many forms, here to help you become the most beautiful, authentic you in existence. You can grow in this lifetime on your own, with your one beating heart, but if you open to all hearts you will expand into the infinity of all that is in a sublimely beautiful way.


Read more in my post Everything is Here to Help You, and This is How or watch the video Everything is Here to Help You by my man Matt Kahn.


Time to turn it over to you. What’s one simple practice that has changed your life for the better?


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