A while back, I started turning off my electronics before bed to get eight hours of sleep — but it was my mornings that were still missing something. I was in the habit of checking social media as soon as I woke up, and it left me feeling disconnected from myself and the world around me. I wanted to work out regularly, but I ended up getting distracted while scrolling, and I just felt lethargic and disconnected from my own body. 

I first read about the Thrive Challenge on the OneWalmart website.

I liked the idea of checking in every day and holding myself accountable for the things I had wanted to do for a long time but had not been doing. I needed a way to remember that these really were things I wanted to do, rather than forgetting as soon as I became distracted by my daily internet diving. It was time for me to make a change.

The first step I took was staying away from my devices in the morning.

I started reading or journaling first thing each morning instead, and immediately felt the good effects. My focus was shifted back onto my own interests and feelings, and this set the tone for each day as to what I could do for myself and others. 

I started working out for half an hour in the morning, alternating weight-lifting with cardio and stretches. 

Starting was the most difficult, because it just felt like a physical strain with no immediate reward. But after a while, I began to notice how the weights became easier to lift, and my cardio endurance was increasing as well. I could even see the changes on my body. Seeing my progress kept me motivated. 

Before bed, I change into my pajamas, brush my teeth, and put away my devices. 

After this, the rest of the time is devoted solely to reading, which helps me redirect my thoughts away from my worries. Having a journal has helped me too. Taking the time to focus on my thoughts and feelings has helped me remind myself of my own goals and desires.

By reducing my social media usage, I’ve found a lot more interest in the world around me.

I find that I have a greater appreciation for the small things. When my social engagement is spent less on glamorized photos and more on genuine connection with friends, I have much more gratitude. I also find that I have much more certainty in my own ability to find happiness in life, despite what difficulties I may encounter, now that I have made steps such as exercising and devoting more time to my hobbies. 

I’m finding that, the better health my body is in, the better health my mind is in — and vice versa. 

Focusing on my interests and goals has given me something to look forward to when I wake up every morning. The Thrive Challenge has helped me focus on the things that have been important to me all along, rather than becoming distracted by noise on social media or pointless worries. I’m now able to build a better connection with myself and the world.

— Oscar Naramore, Walmart Supercenter #1993, Brockport, NY; $5K Winner