Have you ever felt stuck in your own reality? Like there was no way out of your present circumstances? Do you ever look around and think about how you wish you had a different life?

Real change requires a change of heart. It’s not as easy as typing or reading those words, but it is possible. In fact, it’s downright probable if you apply yourself. However, it will take work and a sustained effort.

Nothing worth having comes easily. If it did, we’d all have the life, job, and mate of our dreams. The truth is that you can achieve nearly anything you set your mind to. You simply need to change from what you’re currently doing that’s not working to something that does work.

Warning: Some of this will be hard. Some of it will seem impossible. And some of it may just be too scary to imagine. You just have to ask yourself one question: How badly do you want change?

Change Your Thoughts

Before we get too deep into the change you want from your life, we first have to address some underlying issues: stress, anxiety, and depression. Healthline has a few great suggestions for what you can do to improve in those areas, and once we eliminate the negative, we can begin to accentuate the positive.

  • Get plenty of exercise: There’s a chemical component to feeling better mentally and emotionally. Exercise releases endorphins ― our feel-good chemicals and mood improvers. Physical activity also lowers stress hormones like cortisol. Exercise improves sleep, which is beneficial for mood, and it improves our body image, also important for elevating mood levels.
  • Food and nutrition matters: Some of the most important nutrients for reducing stress, depression, and anxiety include:
    • Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in salmon and sardines
    • Ashwagandha and other adaptogenic herbs that can lower stress
    • Green tea, as it raises serotonin levels, which improves mood
    • Valerian root, which has been shown to reduce anxiety
  • Keep a journal: Writing things down helps reduce stress and anxiety. You can write down what’s troubling you, then let it go. You can also concentrate on things you’re grateful for and write those down.
  • Spend time with family and friends: Social connections are important for mental well-being, as is having a support network in place. Strong social ties are crucial when things get tough, and they make the good times that much better.
  • Laughter is the best medicine: Laughter is good for health for so many reasons, but as it pertains to mental health, laughter relieves tension and stress and helps us to relax.
  • Practice deep breathing: When we are feeling anxious and stressed, our breathing becomes very shallow. To counteract these feelings, breathe deeply and slowly and from your diaphragm. Focus on the slow cadence of your breath and on your belly rising and falling and watch the stress melt away.

There are a number of ways to cope with anxiety, stress, and depression. The trick is in finding some that work best for you.

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” We all get stuck in habitual ways of thinking. Changing our mental and emotional habits is hard, but if you really want to change, you’ll need to change your approach to dealing with anxiety and stress.

Do What You Love

OK, this seems simple enough — but is it really? Think about the dreams you’ve had over the years. Perhaps you wanted to start your own business, run a marathon, or learn to play the piano. Now count up all those dreams that you actually made an effort to achieve. If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t gone hard after many of them.

For some people, it’s even difficult to figure out what you love. If this is your situation, think back on your childhood. What did you love to do then? What did you want to be then? Life has a way of weeding out our dreams in favor of reality. The accumulation of years has a way of diluting our dreams in favor of practical matters, until they finally disappear altogether.

Your dreams can be big or small. They might be to change the world. They can be to finally take that spring road trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve been meaning to take. Allow your desires to come back into your life, wherever they may guide you. Only then can you make a roadmap to true happiness.

Perhaps you’ve heard this quote from author and philosopher Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss.” As Campbell points out, knowing your bliss isn’t usually the hard part. The hard part is in not being too afraid to follow it.

Sometimes we just need a little nudge, a small reminder that life can and should be joyous, rather than the hamster-on-a-wheel existence many of us get stuck in. Sometimes we just need a little inspiration. Who better to provide that inspiration than Joseph Campbell? He once said:

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

If you really want to change your mind and change your life, you’re likely fed up with present circumstances. So, think about this way: What have you got to lose by trying to do exactly what you love to do?

Truthfully, you have nothing to lose. However, you have everything to gain.

Practice Gratitude

This is a lot easier when you’re already living the dream, as opposed to trying to live the dream. It does, however, fall perfectly in line with the rest of this article ― nothing worth having comes easily.

There is a science to practicing gratitude as it relates to changing your life and getting more things to be grateful for. There are numerous studies to support this.

If you believe in the law of attraction, it’s easy to understand how it works. The law of attraction states that we attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. So, if you’re focusing on things you don’t want and don’t like (as in, things you’re definitely not grateful for), you’re going to get more of those things.

However, if you focus on things you are grateful for, you’re going to get more things to be grateful for. Now, this may seem like new-age hocus pocus, but its roots are based in scientific principles, into quantum physics (which is another article for another day). Just know that the law of attraction and the science of gratitude are real ways to change your mind and life, and they are ways that countless others have already used to get the life you want now.

Not sure where to begin? Here are five life-changing things you can try this year. Of course, you could always continue doing things the same old way and expect different results. But, as Einstein said, that sounds a little insane, doesn’t it?

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