Love.

Taking care of YOU matters. It’s what allows you to do everything else! Living a life with an attitude of love is one of the fundamental parts of joy, and it starts with M&M’s. Nope, not the chocolate kind, though those are yummy too. I’m talking about M&M’s that will feed more than your taste buds – that will nourish your body, mind, and spirit!

Hope and joy really come from loving all three. We need our physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual strength to keep us positive and keep going.

But when life is so busy, how do we “do it all” all the time? Well, we don’t have to do it allllll. But we do need to try to do something.  That’s where my M&M’s help me. They’re my “Happy Habits for Hope”.

To take care of my body, I try to remember to keep moving and eat well. I do this by incorporating some sort of movement each day and by eating meals with real ingredients that are predominantly plant-based. I’m not perfect at it, but every little bit helps. Sometimes I dance with my kids to move or do pilates while I watch a favorite show or go through some sun salutations while I listen to a book. I go to fresh fruits and veggies for my snacks and try to do more meatless meals. Sometimes I get discouraged because I’m not as strong or thin as I want to be.  But that doesn’t matter! This isn’t about looking good. It’s about feeling good! And I know when I exercise and eat well, I feel better, think faster, and am more present. It’s a struggle, but it’s worth it! And doing anything else will only lead to my feeling worse so I might as well try a healthier lifestyle. Truly, movement and meals matter!

To take care of my mind, I try to fill it with positive music and mental highs. A Mental High is when you feel light, carefree, and hopeful. I find it easier to get to this place mentally when I allow myself to slow down and be present with my family and friends. I have to make myself slow down sometimes and squeeze them these magic moments in, but as I’ve practiced it’s got easier. They can’t be rushed. By making these moments a priority they become more powerful. A mental high could happen simply by seeing the positive, doing something special with a loved one, finding a problem and solving it, thinking about all the qualities I love about someone, or looking back on everything we’ve made it through. These special moments are magnified when coupled with great music. So, these M&M’s involve singing while we clean, laughing (at myself usually or when I feel like crying), and making time to just look into the eyes of the people I love. Truly, a great song or fun day with friends has done more for me than any counseling session or medication.

Finally, to take care of my spirit I try to make time for meditation and mental breaks. Quiet time for scripture study, prayer, and pondering can ease burdens in ways no other activity can. I know it’s hard to make time to do these things, but it’s essential! Even if it’s just a quick silent prayer as I head out of my bedroom to help dress a child, or listening to some scriptures as I make breakfast or run an early errand, being consistent in our efforts to connect with what’s sacred is soul-saving and life-enriching. All that focus and effort can be exhausting too, so it’s just as important to take mental breaks. We’re only human! We can’t be in go-mode all the time. So relax, let go, and take a break from “performance mode.” Whether it’s playing Mario Kart and not caring if my little car drives off the bridge over and over again (that’s really fun by the way!) or watching a favorite movie with one of our cats, breaks rejuvenate me so I can have the strength to carry the heavier burdens of life. Meditation does the same. Honestly, these M&M’s are probably the easiest to neglect, but I think they’re the most important because they help you enjoy and get through everything else.

So those are my M&M’s: movement, meals, music, mental highs, meditation, and mental breaks. By trying to take a little time for each (or at least keeping them on my mind), I do a better job of staying up, positive, and hopeful. When I’m stressed and wanting to stress-eat some chocolate, I give these M&M’s a go instead. As President Gordon B. Hinckley said, I truly believe that life is meant to not just be endured, but enjoyed. Taking care of our wonderful bodies, minds, and spirits will help you enjoy life to its fullest!