What’s your desktop picture?

Is it a picture of your kids, a favorite vacation spot, a place you’ve dreamed of going? I bet it’s something good for your soul. On my desktop, I have a generic Macbook picture of an elephant and a giraffe, but it holds a special meaning. As a boy, I would scan the pages of National Geographic magazines for pictures of animals in exotic locations. I dreamed of seeing the Amazon river, the Egyptian pyramids, and the Serengeti wildlife.

In the summer of 2013, my dreams came true when I went on a safari to see the great migration at the Maasai Mara. Towards the end of the day, we came across two elephants and a calf. Our vehicle rolled to a stop as we watched these magnificent creatures cross the savannah during the sunset, casting a shadow over the landscape and creating a mesmerizing masterpiece. My heart lit up and tears streamed down my cheeks. That moment is forever sketched into my soul. The picture isn’t on my desktop because I chose to put down my camera and let my soul do the snapping.

You don’t have to be spiritual to know what’s good for your spirit. Each of us has a different compass for taking care of our spirit, and throughout our lifespan the compass will point in different directions. Below are 8 self-care tips to help your compass find its true north.

  1. Put in work: If you’re fortunate, your job is good for your soul. It gives you purpose in life, shared experiences with colleagues, triumphs to celebrate, and setbacks to motivate you tomorrow. It can be hard when you face an uphill battle at work, but in those moments, reflect on why you do the work and what it means to you.
  2. Belly Bursts: Play that funny YouTube clip again, read a comic, or go on a walk with the friend who always makes you laugh. However you do it, make your belly sore and your cheeks ache from laughing. One day, I was sitting in an office trying to make miracles happen when I found this HILARIOUS clip. I belly-laughed so hard that tears were pouring out of my eyes. Then I proceeded to make the entire office take a laughing break. When you do serious work, a good belly-laugh goes a long way. If you have a short clip that will make me belly-laugh, please send it!
  3. Share Bear: Nearly a decade ago, I told my colleagues that I was going to act like a carebear: that I was going to share, be compassionate, and be positive. A few years later, I told my new colleagues that story and pretty soon had an office full of care bears. Become an expert at sharing joy, happiness, and laughter with others. Make it your job to share more positive than negative each day. Here’s a great share by my talented, hilarious friend Brendan. My favorite is 100% goats, enough said!
  4. Hug it out: As Nelson Mandela famously says, “resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Forgiving someone is a powerful gift; when you forgive someone, you drop the extra load that you might not even be conscious of carrying. For more, listen to this short podcast on the power of forgiveness.
  5. Pull up: No matter how busy you are, you can always take five minutes to pull someone else up. Volunteer, help a friend move their couch, make someone feel appreciated by merely smiling and saying a sincere thank you. Last week, two friends of mine shared a story about how they regularly tell the manager at their local grocery story about an excellent employee. You should be willing to do something for anyone if it takes five minutes or less. Five minutes is not asking much to fuel your soul.
  6. Say no: You’ve heard me say it before. How many times have you said NO since my last post? Saying no to others means saying yes to yourself (or to someone that you love). And saying no now saves you from being forced to say no later. During my self-care trainings, I’ve been surprised by how often people tell me that an illness or disease – sometimes caused by neglecting their self-care – forced them to say no when their team needed them most. Bad at saying no? Don’t know how or where to start? Listen to this podcast to learn how to say no gracefully and reasons why saying no is vital to your life.
  7. Go outside: Be out there in it–––the wild. It doesn’t have to be some incredible place that you’ve seen on Instagram, or even a weekend getaway. Find a green space in your city, check out the botanical gardens, or simply admire your neighborhood trees. Already love nature? Check out this Vimeo about the oldest organisms on the planet, and this story about the man who took a photo of a bur oak at the edge of a cornfield every day.
  8. Get inside: Now that you’ve gone outside, maybe it’s time to get inside. Spend some time on quiet self-reflection rather than always being on the go-go-go. I love spending time with others, telling funny stories, and giving talks, but I also know that my spirit needs some inside time.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the 24 self-care tips over the past 3 weeks. If you have other tips please share them with me!

Pro-tip: Want to be a Share Bear too? Sharing this email with a friend would be a great start

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