Want to jump-start your life? Writing things down can help make them a reality.
Use a pretty pen, take notes on your tablet, voice-record these ideas into your phone to listen back to, or grab a few pieces of paper and start making some lists! Here are some lists you can try to help reduce stress and get control over your life.
1. List Places You Want to Go
Let your imagination run wild as you write down all the places you would like to go. This could certainly go in the wanderlust/travel/adventure direction.
Write down all the countries, states, or locales that spark some interest for you. Let your list be limitless, pretend money is no object, and that time is of no importance. This could also be a list of metaphorical places you want to go, such as toward freedom, in the direction of your dreams, away from judgment and stuck-ness, and/or into your heart and out of your head. Where do you want to go physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
2. List 100 Things You Are Grateful For
Write a list of one hundred people, places, things, experiences, thoughts, and ideas you are grateful for. These can be small or grand. For example:
- Are you grateful for the sunshine on a winter day?
- Are you grateful that you woke up this morning?
- Are you grateful for your annoying roommate because he or she reminds you to practice compassion?
Perhaps listing one hundred things sounds daunting, but begin somewhere and you may be surprised to find how the gratitude flows. Start by writing three things you’re thankful for. Or set a timer for five minutes and write until the alarm goes off. Considering what you’re grateful for, of course, helps you reflect on all the things you do have in your life instead of constantly striving for more. Practicing gratitude has been shown to bring a sense of well-being. And once you get to 100? Begin again! There is always, always, always something to be grateful for.
3. List People You Can Count On
Write a list of people in your life who you value and can count on. For example:
- Who can you call when you’re having a sad day?
- Who boosts you when you feel down?
- Who can you rely on to show up for you when your car breaks down?
Perhaps this is also a list of people whose opinion actually matters to you (this is different than your 1,000 Instagram followers). Or perhaps it’s a list of people who you would trust with your most embarrassing secret.
Remember to not get caught up in the number of people on your list. Community and connection are essential ingredients to living a wholehearted life. And loneliness and isolation can be deadly. So, think about whom you can reach out to when the going gets tough and keep that list in your wallet (and on your speed dial).
Bonus list idea: make a list of people who can count on you. Who do you feel loyal to? Who would you offer your last dollar to? Think about those people in your life who can truly rely on you.
4. List Elements of Your Ideal Day
Make a list of each of the elements that would contribute to your best day. This list idea could actually be two lists: one list of the biggest dreamy, dreams you can think of (money and time and location aside!) and another of an ideal day at home (a bit more realistic but lovely nonetheless!).
Consider the places, people, activities, and experiences that really allow you to feel the most expansive and wonderful. What do you wish to do first thing when you wake up? What would you eat on your ideal day? Let go of limiting yourself to the realities of work and responsibilities. What would your best day look, feel, taste, and sound like?
5. List Your Top 5 All-Time Favorite Songs that Inspire You
Write down the titles and artists of those songs that you always turn up. Or the ones you find yourself putting on for friends when they’re feeling blue. The songs that you turn to for inspiration—whether upbeat, uplifting, or mellow—are the ones that can remind you of a happy time and lift your mood. Dance party while you cook breakfast? Yes! Blasting the music and singing at the top of your lungs while you drive? Totally. Creating a playlist of songs you love just because? Do it.
If this list idea is a challenge, take a poll. Ask your friends or Facebook community what songs inspire them. You may discover some new artists and get a good idea of the kind of music your people enjoy. Happy listening!
6. List Things that Help You De-Stress
Write out a list of things that really help you feel calmer and more grounded. For example:
- Does taking a brisk walk soothe anxiety?
- Does 10 minutes of meditation help you release tension?
- Does reading your favorite blog, cooking a delicious meal, or putting down your phone offer relief from worry?
Having a physical list handy to take a peek at when stress starts to build can be really useful. Know that your go-to’s and your ability to de-escalate unhealthy stress will be available when you need it.
7. List Ways You Can Contribute to the World (and Ways that You Already Do!)
Start by listing out all of the ways that you are already of service to people, communities, the environment, and the world.
- Does your job have an element of helpfulness to it?
- Does your smile make your neighbor’s face light up?
- Does your generous tip help your server work toward her dreams of being an artist?
Then write out all the ways you could contribute to the world being a more compassionate, welcoming, peaceful, and loving place. For example:
- Could you create a podcast to share stories of kindness?
- Could you pick up cigarette butts on the beach?
- Could you mentor youth in your community?
From small to grand, you being you contributes something to the world—you choose how you’d like to wield that power!
8. Make a List of Your Own 7 Lists to Make!
It’s a fun practice and will also help you consider your priorities. Whether your list of lists includes big or little ideas or is a list of silly jokes, it’s certain to be a nice check in to see what’s at the top of your mind.