There's a famous quote that always seems to resurface in Instagram bios and yearbooks: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." It's a popular quote for a reason: it summarizes the idea of autonomy and accepting responsibility for our own shortcomings and successes quite nicely.
I think recognizing our own ability to shape our lives is vital to becoming successful adults—but that recognition can quickly become an obsession.
Of course, we all should aim to change the things we don't want to accept in our lives: but that is much easier said than done. It is so very, very easy to get wrapped up in the idea of self-improvement—and that can lead to some serious burn-out.
I have been trying for what feels like forever to find a lifestyle that helps me deal with various issues stemming from low self-esteem and anxiety.
I feel like I've tried it all: dietary adjustments, different exercises, journaling, social media breaks, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. None of it seemed to have the lasting impact I was looking for.
For the first time in my life, the lifestyle changes I'm attempting are working—and I think I know why.
One reason: moderation.
None of those lifestyle changes mentioned above is inherently bad or difficult. However, any time I have attempted to keep myself to a strict regiment of utilizing them, it's quickly fizzled out.
If I attempted to journal every night, for example, I would get upset with myself for missing one evening if I was exceptionally tired. Whenever I tried to abruptly change my eating habits, I would do really well for a couple of weeks before giving up altogether. The same would happen if I tried to run every day or give up social media.
I put so much pressure on myself to improve some area of my life quickly that every minor trip-up or break felt like a failure.
What I've been doing recently, however, is spacing out those changes. I'll run three or four times a week instead of every day. I try to eat healthy meals but I won't always skip dessert. I limit the time I spend online but I won't quit it altogether.
By giving myself some breathing room, it allows my body and mind time to adjust. Those lifestyle changes don't feel restrictive any more. By enjoying certain things occasionally instead of never, I don't find myself craving them.
Giving yourself an adjustment period is vital to making any major change last. Trust me on this one: short-term solutions will never fix a long-term problem.
While that quote is nice, I'd like to propose a minor addition to it: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Oh yeah—and the time to make it happen."