Nine Small Ways to Start Over

Whether you want to clear your head, change your body, or renew your spiritual mojo, here are nine tiny tips to create big, bright changes.

Make this your mantra: Eat whole foods. Whole foods are characterized by being as close to their natural, original states as possible. Skip the latest diets and cleanses, quit vilifying carbs, and save yourself the trouble of counting calories. Here’s your new nutrition plan: Eat real food. Think about where it came from. Understand how it got to your plate. Savor meals. Eat mindfully, and watch how it can change your body and your life.

Less reality TV; more reality. Look, I don’t want to be a downer, but too much TV over-stimulates your brain (especially before bed), fattens your ass, saps your creativity, and erodes the personal, one-on-one relationships with real people that matter in your life. It’s fun to watch shows that entertain, inform, and inspire, but cool it with the incessant background noise, relentless channel-surfing, and late-night brain drain.

Forgive someone. Speaking of real people … They make mistakes. Big ones. Hurtful ones. Unforgivable ones. Forgive them anyway. Besides being the compassionate thing to do, it’s crucial to your health. The anger we feel toward others, when allowed to fester, pollutes our thoughts. Take it from the Buddha, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”

Get thee to Goodwill. Most of us have too much stuff. Get rid of what you don’t need; give it to someone who does. It’s a wonderful way to create space, physically and psychologically.

Turn your world upside down. If you only do one yoga pose in your life, ever, make it an inversion (a pose in which your head is below your heart, directing fresh blood to your brain). Headstand is one example, but so is a simple standing forward bend: Stand with feet hip-width distance apart, knees softly bent; fold your torso over your thighs. Hold opposite hand to elbow, and be sure to relax your neck. Now, breathe.

Get acquainted with karma. The word “karma” actually translates to mean “action.” To that end, good actions beget good actions and negative ones do the opposite. Volunteer in your community; help friends in need, or simply commit to one good deed per day. Once you take action, it’s fun to watch the changes occur — mostly in yourself.

Leave home. Taking a mental holiday need not be expensive or time-consuming, but it’s important to get a change of scenery on occasion. Drive to the beach for a day; spend a weekend in the mountains, or simply pack a picnic and people-watch in a different part of Boston. Experiencing new places and people keeps us young.

Meditate. It always helps. It never hurts. It costs nothing. It improves everything.

Write it down. No matter what your life goals are, you are more likely to achieve them if you write them down. Trying to lose weight? Keep a food diary. Need to get your personal finances in order? Write down everything on which you spend money over the course of a month, then strategize where you can make changes. Hoping to cultivate a better relationship with someone special? Send them a hand-written, heartfelt note. Writing things down allows us to see the truth in black and white, and that is the most powerful step toward change.