“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive.” -Harold Thurman
If you are anything like me, you have probably had days (if not weeks) when you have felt a little stalled.
Perhaps you have felt stuck in a rut. Time might have passed by while you were on autopilot. You may have even questioned when life will really begin.
In contrast to this feeling, an enlivened life is one that we are excited about living. We feel energized and awake for even the most ordinary moments. When we are excited about our lives, we have something to look forward to and find rich meaning in our experiences.
When we think about what it would take to get excited about life, we sometimes think “but I’m just me,” as if telling ourselves that we aren’t good enough or don’t have the skills or resources to feel alive. In reality, being “just me” is all we ever need to be.
Making any change, even a change for the better, can be a bit daunting. Change can also be uncertain or risky. It can feel awkward and unnatural at first, though it is completely normal for it to take a month of daily practice before a new behavior becomes habit.
When the results aren’t immediate we may question whether our efforts are working, and it can be tempting to slide back into old ways.
Rest assured that you don’t need to turn your life upside down to liven things up. The truth is, coming alive doesn’t require impressive accomplishments or colossal life changes. Getting excited about your life doesn’t require thrilling adventure, fame, or wealth, either.
We can all get excited by our lives by making a few small adjustments to our attitudes and our habits. These small changes often come with an added bonus: positive change begets further positive change.
Below are 10 ways to improve your life:
Counteract negativity with positivity.
Negativity is pretty stealthy. It may creep in and soon become automatic and pervasive. Slowly but surely, it dampens our spirits and robs us of our excitement for living.
Counteract negativity from others and yourself by responding with positivity, warmth, and optimism. Instead of gossiping, channel envy into positive change. Ban 2-3 negative labels or phrases from your vocabulary for 1 month.
Look for the lesson that difficult situations may be trying to teach you. Think of them as presenting you with the opportunity to practice patience and perseverance, and remind yourself of what is going well outside of the situation.
Practice acts of kindness every day. Do something kind for yourself. Write yourself motivating messages.
Try volunteering or donating to a charity. Step in and help someone in need. Even small gestures like holding open a door can carry forward into the rest of your day.
Dedicate time to learning and meaning.
Every week, work toward learning something new and cultivating your talents. Try reading a chapter a day, learning a word a day, practicing your math skills, or choosing a topic that you would simply like to learn more about. Whatever you choose, approach it whole-heartedly.
Investing time in something you care about is really an investment in yourself. Meaningful activities bring passion and richness to our lives and connect us to similar others. Learning and meaningful activities are also the antidote to burn-out.
Make and relive memories.
Time passes, no matter what. When we are living a more enlivened life, we are more keenly aware of the impermanence of life and keep an eye toward the memories we are creating.
About once a week, do something nostalgic. Nostalgia is that bittersweet, sentimental feeling that leaves us appreciating meaning and connection in our lives. Try to create a time capsule, and mark a date on your calendar to reveal the contents.
Take 1-3 pictures a day of something you find inspiring, motivating, funny, or notable. Fill a photo album with these, and review it at the end of the month. Start a new tradition with friends and family.
So much in life is worth celebrating, yet we often don’t make time for this in our hectic schedules. When we do choose to celebrate, we can get bogged down under the pressure of expectations. Make your celebrations fun, meaningful, and frequent.
Celebrate anniversaries, even the small ones. Focus on the meaning to you, and let go of the nonessential. Celebrate the silly holidays like Skyscraper Day or Bingo Month. Make it as big or little a celebration as you like.
How often are we living right next door to something amazing only to admit that we have never really paid attention? Be a tourist in your own home town. Allow yourself to be excited about the things in your city that are easily taken for granted in daily life.
Do it sooner rather than later.
It can be tempting to “do it later,” but all too easily we find that later never comes. When we put off working toward important goals, we become more reactive than proactive. We can feel overwhelmed as deadlines approach and stress builds, and we can feel defeated if we fail to make the progress we are hoping for.
To reawaken those personal goals that you have been putting off or afraid to start, choose one and commit to working toward it in some small way each day. Break down large tasks. Identify the fears that may be holding you back.
Remind yourself why this is important and consider how things might be different when you have reached this goal. Sometimes simply taking an initial step can increase our commitment to the goal.
Not only do we often dress how we feel, but we can also feel how we dress. About once a week, wear one thing that is a little brighter or more striking than you might usually wear. The idea isn’t to be a slave to fashion or to focus on appearance, but rather to try on something a little different and notice how it feels.
Face your fears.
Our fears hold us back, close us off, and make our worlds smaller. Break out of this confined space by doing something every day that helps you conquer a fear. You don’t need to overcome the fear all at once. In fact, taking small steps every day is much more sustainable. Work through the thoughts and the actions that may keep this fear locked in place.
As addicting as it may be, being busy is not the same as feeling alive. Quite often, living a more enlivened life simply requires a little more time for living during the day. Reduce your daily screen and media time by 30 minutes.
Choose 2-3 times per day for laughing, inspiration, and reflection. Schedule time to work through the items on this list. Commit to this time by marking it in your planner or setting an alarm.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do to enliven your life?
Leslie shows working moms how to bust those superwoman myths and bring back the balance and joy with her signature blend of real-life positive psychology tips and guilt-free meditations at A Year of Happy. To get you started, she’s whipped up a delectable 2-minute revitalizing meditation for you to enjoy on the house at http://www.ayearofhappy.com/revitalize.