All it takes is a single question:
There’s a point in life when you start to question everything. You’re asking if racing to that swing in the playground, making cup after cup after cup of coffee, all the diets you’ve been on, the walks you’ve taken, the places in your bucket list you’ve been to, the people you’ve loved – does any of this really matter in the end?
Congratulations, that you’ve arrived at this point. It means you’ve paused long enough in your busy life to ask if the direction you’re headed is the one that you really want to be on. Pat yourself on the back because most of us are living life as it comes rather than living an intentional life of purpose and meaning.
Now that you’ve realized that there must be more to life than ceaseless internetting and thumb-flicking scrolling, let’s see how to live a life that gives us more satisfaction and pleasure while living it.
Start with abundance and gratitude:
If you let tragedy define yourself, you’re always a victim. When you’ve faced trauma, and who hasn’t, there’s always something lacking. Start with counting your (remaining) blessings. List all the things that you still have in your life that can’t be bought with money. Discard emotional baggage like dirty underwear.
Invite colors into your life:
Physically and metaphorically. Bring colors that you love to wear, to see and have all around you in your day to day life. Color is the sign of life. Its a sign of abundance and security. Eat foods of different colors, not just the creams, yellows and the occasional greens, cue peas, beans and spinach that SAD (Standard American Diet) offers. Meet people who haven’t lived the way you’ve and see for yourself that life is indeed multi dimensional. Life can be as colorful as confetti if you chose to live it that way.
Balance out the scales:
Outside of work, divide the time in your day for food, festivities and contemplation. As much as work is important to put food on the table, good sleep restores the body and mind to get ready for yet another brilliant day ahead.
Throw yourself in front of joy:
Instead of waiting for life to be one big uninterrupted party, why not create small pockets of joy yourself? Why not actively seek out joy by doing things that give you unbridled happiness? Don’t know where to start? Cook yourself your favorite meal, call a friend you love hearing from, or watch a movie that you’ve been putting off for a long time. Better yet, make small promises to yourself and live upto them. This is what Thoreau must have meant when he suggested that we should “Live the life we’ve imagined.”
Find the elusive purpose:
There must be something you are good at? There must be something you can give. Find that something that can make a difference. In the short time we’re here, the idea is to leave this world a better place than how we found it. Think big and get ready to step onto the path of your purpose.
Empathy is how we treat absolute strangers. It is our ability to put ourselves in the situations that others are going through. Empathy is what we use to connect. This is how we build out social currency, but being understanding and diplomatic about others emotions and feelings. This is how we find common ground, create rapport and build social networks in real life. Embrace empathy and fill up your heart.
Look at nature for inspiration:
Wilderness has no to do lists, no predicaments and no wants. It lives like a stoic, in solitude and with the resources that’s available to it. Bear witness to love, greed, hate and excesses but not be stifled by emotions created and only known to our human kind.
Think like a problem solver:
There are two things to do when problems arise. Either you can let them stop you in your tracks or allow them to propel you into innovative actions. When you’re not immobilized by pain from a tragedy, you become your own hero. First, empower yourself with a stabilizing thought, “I’m down for anything. That’s just easy instead of fighting everything.” Now that adversity has arrived, think what you can do now instead of what could have been.
Slow down and unplug:
Most of us, not including those who’re lucky to be enlightened, don’t want to live in the present moment, because we don’t accept life as it has manifested itself. When our needs and desires, as we’re experiencing them, are not met in the immediate future, conflict arises. Mindfulness is simply our ability to decide whether we will nurture that secondary thought or let it go. Most often than not, our feelings determine what we do or don’t do on a daily basis. How tragic is it that we reach out to our phones or other gadgets to seek stimulation because we can’t listen to our own thoughts? Learn about digital detox and a few things about social media like they are mostly capable of giving us anxiety about other people’s flamboyant lifestyles. And why we’re all getting addicted to technology.
Create a vision:
Write down what you aspire to do today and tomorrow. How does your life look in the future, how you thought about it? Here are a few affirmations to get you started.
I want to use my time productively.
I want to create positive change.
I want to generate massive positive impact – To myself and my community.
Rid your mind of other people’s definitions of fun, likes, and success. Sweeten your life with positive self talk. Find your self worth before you try to find out more about life. Be consistent with change. Yes, change is uncomfortable, but change is the only consistent thing in life. Habits are overrated.
The moment that changes everything:
There is a moment in life that has the potential to propel us infinitely. Its when you realize that your life is not yours, but it is a sum of all the people you’ve touched, impacted, influenced – positively. Your life is a sum of all the memories you’ve accumulated all along.
Still not sure how all these things will make for a meaningful life? As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”
So start by making a list of all the things you would do even if you were broke. Do things you know you won’t regret when you look back at life. Keep art and poetry close to your heart. Tell the people you love, you can’t live without them. Heck, write love notes to them.
Count how many instances in a day you were part of exchanges where only love, joy and kindness were communicated. Each day, set an intention for a productive, resourceful and mindful day.
A meaningful day in repetition leads to a meaningful month, a year, a decade and a lifetime. Ask yourself what your unique value proposition in your lifetime is. Live like you’re dying tomorrow.