Weddings are usually seen as a once-in-a-lifetime affair, signifying the milestone of two lovers to whom each has devoted the rest of their lives. Even if the wedding is without the fanfare of elaborate gowns and décor, which groom or bride would not want to look their best on the most important day in their lives?

The lead-up to a wedding can get intense - being diplomatic in invitations, finding the perfect outfits, wet-weather plans, running over budget, the list goes on. In the grand scheme of things however, a wedding lasts for a weekend but the marriage lasts for a lifetime. The guiding principle to balanced living that we advocate is that if you feel good inside, it radiates on the outside. And this is all possible and personal.

PLAN

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Nothing beats this adage, even with the occasional stroke of luck. Half the battle is won when you have a vision for your dreams, set reasonable timelines, and list back-up plans. Simple tools put our habits into perspective - like a daily food diary or weekly exercise plan, detailing the sequence, repetitions, intensity and even rest duration of our workouts. Success comes quicker when you have a clear view of the journey.

Plans should also be reviewed frequently. There will inevitably be days when our bodies retaliate, schedules clash or the stars just refuse to align. That is what living as a human entails! Progress happens when we accept that change is the only constant. So start planning and taking control.

EFFORT

This is a painful fact. It’s what sets winners from the day-dreamers and self-loathers. With mindful planning and steadfast execution, it is almost the universe’s promise of some level of fruition. The hardest step is always the first step. No Pain, No Gain!

REWARD

Rewarding ourselves intelligently is an effective way to preserve our sanity and stay on track without feeling like we want to run our heads through a wall. It is a powerful way of acknowledging our efforts and creating positive reinforcement – making the journey enjoyable, and efforts sustainable. Some of us may recall Chandler in the decade-long “Friends” sitcom who rewarded his successful smoke-free duration with… a cigarette. Of course we don’t want our plans to backfire! If you’re on a weight loss regime, reward your efforts with a spa treatment or scalp massage to soothe the knots. If you’ve been setting aside time to plan your wedding, reward yourself with that snazzy pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. If you’re keeping a tight budget to enable your dream wedding, reward your discipline via a couch potato night snuggled up with your significant other, or a sleepover with the girls!

Rewards don’t always need to be gastronomic or nasty on the pockets. We were born with 5 physical senses, and a thirst for adventure and curiosity. Instead of splurging on tangibles, focus on experiences instead! Fall into stitches with a stand-up comedy show, cozy up your bedroom with aromatherapy, get creative with art jamming, work your karaoke vocals with your buddies, or simply sneak in an afternoon shut-eye to get the beauty slumber you deserve in this time-strapped era!

SUPPORT

No man is an island. Despite how much of an introvert we may be, we need one another as leverage of infinite energy, ideas and courage. Such is evident via fitness/ health buddies, BFFs with whom we confide our most sinister secrets, and work colleagues we pull off all-nighters with for that quarterly work report. There is no denying that we need various support clusters in attaining our goals more quickly, and feeling great while at it. So get involved in that CBD running club, get the fire started for those nutritious broths that momma aces at, and join forces with your significant other to get the bank account nourished again!

OWNERSHIP

“What gets measured gets managed”. Keeping tab on our progress status alongside plans is a realistic way of tracking various areas of growth and improvement. You are accountable to yourself. Stay real, keep track, and remind yourself why you are doing what you are. Have the faith that you are headed in the right path. On days you slip up, take note of the emotional and physiological ramifications. Can you improve on your reactions? Can you rationalize your behaviour? How can you make it better in  the future?

NEW

Living on Mother Earth grants you a license to learn and experience. Most of us harbour a fear of screwing up or becoming a laughing stock. The truth is – hardly anyone ever nails anything at the first attempt! Best part – nobody cares one little bit if you mess things up! Conversely, you might be garnering more respect, with your courage to detach yourself from your comfort zone. Professional athletes were not born with the dexterity for the sport; and successful entrepreneurs did not become so without countless stumbles, enemies made and revisions to their course of action.

By subjecting yourself to new experiences, you are not just honing a new skill set. You are improving the knack for creativity, logic, coordination and learning how to learn! Did I mention that your intelligence improves correspondingly with deeper grooves carved in your brain?

Think about a baby’s first step and how intimidating it seems to fall and bruise. Yet, an infant does not subject his learning to the pain of falling! Before you could say “You did it, son!” the infant is already dashing after that football in the fields. That is the spontaneous, receptive and adventurous spirit we should carry on through our lives to enhance progress.

Learning is now made incredibly easier with social media and apps - to bring together folks with common, or simply budding, interests. YouTube “How to skateboard” and you find tons of listings for such self-taught skills.

ATTITUDE

Our mindset influences not just our behaviour and emotions, but also has a deep bearing on our physiological health. High occurrences of negative emotions have been linked with disruption of normal cellular functions, resulting in excessive cortisol (stress hormone) release, weight gain, unfavourable immune system changes, and chronic diseases in the long run.

On the flipside, a positive psychological outlook has been massively linked with reducing risks of cardiac arrests and strokes, releasing higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and lowering amounts of triglycerides in the blood.

Optimism is not a disposition that’s easy to attain. Neither is it impossible. Optimism does not mean throwing caution to the wind. It’s about having dreams and being receptive to opportunities. It’s about an attitude of gratitude - appreciating that we have a significant other who is together on this journey of experiences for the rest of our lives. It is also about picking ourselves up when we have detoured from the paths of our ventures, learning from adventures and follies, and making better decisions. We Live, We Learn, We Appreciate.

L IVE

Bottom line - We can’t control the past; but we can be present in the moment, and steer the future. We can’t always expect perfection, but we can amend our expectations and create more opportunities for happiness and health.

So…  Let It Go, Live It Up!