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Challenge Week: Kill Your Stress, Befriend Yourself & Dominate Positivity

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“Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ~Joshua J. Marine

Hey, I know you’re busy. Aren’t we all? But it’s time you did yourself a favor. Investing in yourself is a surefire way to give your mind a growth spurt without any stretch marks.

Take a week to reinvent your mindset. Each of these steps requires minimal effort but yield maximum reward. What are you waiting for? Let’s do this.

This “cleanse” is laid out over the course of a week, but you don’t have to follow each day in any particular order. Tailor each challenge to a specific day that works best for your schedule. After all, what good is a program you can’t stick to? No good, Charlie. No good.

Day 1: Take a walk and be unreachable.

Turn off your phone and go for a thirty-minute walk. There’s something to be said about being completely unreachable. Who’s to say that we’re available whenever someone needs us? You are. Like the rest of us, you probably carry a cell phone.

That means that anyone in the known universe can dial your number and interrupt whatever you’re doing. Important or not, it’s your life. Remember the scene in Rocky when Adrian asks to use his phone? Rocky doesn’t have a phone. “Yo. Who needs the interruption?”

Take a stand and shut off the world for a half-hour. Walk around the block and resist the urge to see what’s new on Twitter. Your Facebook status doesn’t matter right now. Walk around the block and enjoy being at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Remember, you’re not doing this to ignore someone, but to embrace no one. If it doesn’t leave you feeling refreshed and empowered, at least you got some fresh air.

Day 2: Call someone you love.

Plain and simple, right? I’m sure Aunt Flo would love to hear from you. Grandma Smith melts every time she hears your voice. Crazy Uncle Steven is having a rough day. Cheer him up. Too often we neglect the people we love the most.

Remember when Cousin Russell fell off the trampoline and broke his arm? That was hilarious. Call him and remind him. This is an easy one that can take as little as five minutes.

Staying in touch is hugely important. Friends and family are all you’ve got, so remind them that you’re keeping them in your thoughts. You’ll thank yourself later. Guaranteed or your money back.

Day 3: Compliment a stranger.

The last time I had a rough day at work, I stopped at Sprouts to grab a sandwich for lunch. Angry at the world and fed up with just about everyone, I refused to make conversation with anyone. As I walked up to the counter to pay for my BLT, the cashier looked me square in the face and said “It’s great to see you! That shirt really brings out your eyes.”

I was stopped dead in my tracks. It’s impossible to stifle a smile with a greeting like that. If you aren’t instantly cheered up, you’re either Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsey.

Giving a compliment is the most effective way to make a difference in someone’s day. Making someone else smile will assuredly make you smile in return. Spread the joy! It could change someone’s life.

Be sure to compliment a complete stranger. It shows the three essential Cs (character, class, and courage).

Day 4: Quiet the noise. Turn off the world.

This is the most difficult challenge of the week. The rules: No texting. No talk radio. No social networks. No e-mail. You’re going to ignore every incoming piece of information possible. When you get a text, respond with a phone call.

Turn off e-mail notifications and only check your inbox in the morning and in the evening. It’s time for a mental detox. Between Twitter, Facebook, the news, and conversations with friends, there’s always a steady flow of material for your brain to process.

Take this day to turn it off and cut out the fat. The more information you expose yourself to, the less you will retain. Weeding out the pieces that don’t matter allows you to focus on the things that do. Enjoy your day today, not someone else’s yesterday.

Day 5: Eat lunch outside.

What a nice day! Find the nearest park bench and soak in some sunshine. Studies show an increase in focus, memory, and psychological health just from being outdoors. Feel the breeze. Hear the leaves rustle.

Experiencing the “now” will make you feel infinitely more connected to the universe. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. Being in the same environment day after day wears you down. Change it up. Soak in the rays.

Day 6: Donate.

Be honest with yourself; you’re pretty lucky. You are probably in good health, have a job, and eat three meals a day. In some countries that’s living like royalty. Why not give yourself the warm-and-fuzzies and give back?

Find a cause that interests you and give a dollar. A drop in the bucket for you could be a game changer for someone else. When life gives you lemons, give someone else your lemonade. Capisce?

Day 7: Ignore the clocks.

What time is it? Who cares. Time is of the essence. Can you imagine how stressed out cavemen would have been if they had set deadlines? Must bring food to camp by noon. Must gather nuts and berries by three. Must cook meat by five. Must invent Guitar Hero before Krom.

You’re doing the same thing to your day on a macro level without even realizing it. Go an entire day without setting a deadline. Do everything in your power to ignore what time it is. This is probably best done on a Sunday. You have an entire day to do what you will. Take the pressure off!

Easy, right? I thought so. You’ve done more this week than most people do in an entire year. You donated, exercised, made people smile, and got plenty of fresh air. Way to go, champ! You get a cookie.

Try and work some of these principles into your daily routine. I try and “tech-cleanse” at least once a month, eat lunch outside at least once a week, and give a compliment at least once a day.

If you can think of anything else, post it in the comments. Otherwise, thanks for reading! Way to take the initiative, soldier. Until next time, keep on keepin’ on.

Photo by Jon Shave

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