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“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey
Too often people assume that the answer to live’s problems, frustrations, or rather challenges and opportunities is that we don’t have enough money, free time or respect and adoration. Naively some will assume, as Jim Carrey points out above, that the answer is to be rich and famous. And partly due to the fact that only a handful of people have experienced this state, and most of us have not, the myth persists.
The good news is that living a full life need not require a queen’s ransom nor the status of Beyonce to live well and be truly content. More money can equate to more problems if such an abundant income isn’t handled well and infinite fans can be a detriment to one’s privacy and ability to live as one would prefer.
The ingredients for building a full life are really quite simple, but too often, overlooked. With clarity and clear focus, a full life can be yours.
1. Approve of yourself
A man will do anything, no matter what it is, to secure his spiritual comfort…A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Mark Twain from “What is Man?“
Until you accept yourself for who you are, where you are, and what you are doing, knowing you are doing the best you can at this moment, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. It doesn’t mean you are settling, but what it does mean is that you are not in denial which allows you to continue to make progress toward you goals that will eventually be attained because you’re being truthful with the facts of the present moment. And while it is man’s prerogative to want to improve in our modern world, it is vitally important that we realize at this moment we are enough, we are beautiful/handsome, and we are doing our best until we learn the lessons that will teach us to do it better.
2. Master Your Emotions
“As a woman who has learned how to keep her emotions in check, you will be able to speak your mind when you aren’t being respected, hold your tongue when your partner needs understanding, deal with loneliness without falling apart, be vulnerable with your sadness, accept your flaws and those of [others] and adapt readily when plans fall through or when life doesn’t turn out exactly as you had hoped. Free from fear of out-of-control emotions, you can now enjoy life to the fullest with a solid sense of your worth and your ability to handle the challenges that come your way.” –Last One Down the Aisle Wins
It is important to point out that while many classify emotions as either good or bad, there really is no such thing. It’s how we deal with these emotions that often earns these titles. In fact, when we feel anger, as Shannon Fox and Celeste Liversidge point out in Last One Down the Aisle Wins, it is often a signal that we feel we’ve been mistreated, manipulated or disrespected. It is up to us to figure out why (was it based on past experiences or a current situation), and work to permanently and properly assuage the situation so that it doesn’t rear its head again. In other words, our feelings can be warning signs that help us proceed further down the wrong road.
Another issue often admitted to is emotional eating – again the eater is often unwilling to deal with what they are feeling and why. And while dealing with the emotions we are feeling at the moment may not be fun, if we deal with them properly, we will be permanently improving the quality of our lives. I highly recommend reading chapter seven of the book previously mentioned. While its target audience is twenty- somethings, there are many chapters that are ageless.
Take the time to get to know yourself, examine life and the world, lay down your assumptions, judgments and beliefs and listen to how others live, learn and find contentment. When we take the time to unearth our true passions, curiosities and proclivities, we are investing in ourselves and the contentment that we seek. (Click here to learn more about getting to know yourself.)
While investing in ourselves and our future is immensely important as we are responsible for our well-being, remembering to give of ourselves, our time, money and talents is an elixir for finding contentment as well. When we give, we contribute positively to someone else’s life experience, and ultimately the world runs on how well people interact. Everyone will give in different ways, but explore ways in which you are comfortable and able, and then give what you can.
5. Feel Productive
No matter how big your salary or paycheck or whether or not you get paid at all, doing something, creating something, managing something, producing something of value is an everyday event that will ensure a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. There is something quite satisfying at the end of a productive day – sleep comes quicker, relaxation is easier to be had and conversations with others more engaging when we feel we’ve done something that helped us and/or others get one step closer to a goal.
6. Play, Enjoy Life
Whether your days off are the traditional Saturday, Sunday or anywhere in between, make sure to have an off-switch when your work day is over. The project that you didn’t complete can be finished tomorrow – let down your hair, dress up or dress down (depending up on how you play) and do whatever it is that relaxes your mind, turns off the world and makes you smile. Do this regularly.
7. Build Strong Friendships
Earlier this summer I wrote about how to be a friend worth having, and regardless of your romantic life, having strong friendships is a founding piece of a full life. Perhaps you are someone who sees or interacts with their friends daily, or maybe you only need weekly or monthly time together, whatever it is, invest in those friendships – simple, subtle gestures to show you care and support their journey.
8. Keep Life Simple
“Some pleasures are kinetic—shallow, and transient, fading way as soon as the act that creates the pleasure ends. Often they are succeeded by a feeling of emptiness and psychological pain and suffering. Other pleasures are catastematic—deep, and prolonged, and continue even after the act that creates them ends; and it is these pleasures that secure the well-lived life.” –Forbes
When we understand that living simply isn’t about doing without but rather eliminating and avoiding the unnecessary so that the true pleasures and a quality way of life can thrive, we move one permanent step closer toward a truly full life. The kinetic pleasures that are mentioned above might be a new pair of shoes or a decadent piece of chocolate cake, while catastematic pleasures, which provide the absolute absence of pain, would be any decision that while bringing you pleasure in the moment, continues to bring you pleasure upon remembering it as you appreciate your choice – perhaps a trip, purchasing a home you will reside in for years, work in which you lose all track of time.
By making thoughtful decisions, being aware of the consequences and navigating effectively through them, we are exercising discipline over decadence and moderation over excess. We are allowing just enough into our life, but not too much which would ultimately detract from our simple life.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
When we choose to become self-reliant, we are choosing freedom. Freedom to know that we can depend upon ourselves, freedom to let go of unnecessary crutches and taking responsibility for our lives rather than shifting the blame. There are two types of freedom – internal and external. We are the masters of giving ourselves internal freedom – making wise decisions, taking responsibility for the effects of said choices. And while we may not have absolute control of our external freedom, in so many countries of the world, we do have a voice, a vote, the right to petition and the ability to run for office. Freedom, self-reliance, is ours should we understand our true strength.
Freedom, security, peace of mind – money can cultivate or kill each one of these. Have patience, be disciplined and you will do well. Click here for more details on how to master your money.
11. Let Go of Expectations
No one’s life follows the same path as another’s, there are no rules of what people should do. So long as you are not taking others’ rights away or causing harm, your life is your own. In every country in the world, there are institutions, family beliefs, societal expectations that certain paths should be followed and certain paths should be avoided. If we accept blindly any path, we can often bring upon ourselves much anxiety, unnecessary stress and disappointment when we don’t meet particular expectations. Let go. Get to know yourself and follow your path. It will be glorious.
12. Be Kind
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu
Be kind out of habit. Be kind when expected. Be kind when it would be fine not to do so. Be kind. You’ll sleep well at night, you will influence others you may never meet or know, and you will leave an impression on the world that is a beautiful legacy not dependent upon how much money you have in your bank account.
As you can see, living a full life is a choice and anyone can do it. Having said that, I find it interesting that more do not. Why don’t they follow such simple steps? While I’m sure there are all sorts of answers, part of the reason is that we are led to believe otherwise – by advertisers, by rule books, and by misguided people not realizing their advice is out of step until they hit the dead end. Trust yourself, have patience with yourself, and enjoy the amazing life you’ve created. Your example will be inspiration that indeed these ingredients do produce a full life.
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