Do you ever feel caught in a loop where life feels kind of joyless? Do you find yourself thinking, “I’m so busy now, but I’ll feel happy and refreshed when I finally retire/my kids start having babies/I lose ten pounds/I finally get to go on that cruise?” Easy as it is to fall into those kinds of thoughts, you really don’t have to wait until you hit this or that milestone to feel like you’ve made it. It’s absolutely possible to love and enjoy your life right now. Just making these five mindset shifts will have a powerful impact – and the power to change your life!
How To Love Your Self & Your Life
1. Slow down
Slowing down (or sometimes stopping altogether) to be in the present moment is the first and most critical step. If you feel like you don’t have time to slow down, you’re probably one of the people who need to do it the most!
In any given moment, try to give your undivided attention to fully experiencing whatever you are doing. Continue to check in with yourself throughout the day, particularly any time you begin to feel stressed or restless.
Whether you’re reading Dr. Suess to your grandchild, sweeping the front porch, or settling into a soft chair with a hot cup of tea, tap into the sensation of the present moment. How does your body feel? What sounds do you hear? What textures can you touch? So many beautiful sights and comforting feelings get completely overlooked when we let ourselves become too busy to notice them.
2. Practice gratitude
Did you know that it’s impossible to embody the energy of complaining and of gratitude at the exact same time? Gratitude is one of the highest energetic states we can tap into (it’s right up there with love). The more time you spend in the energy of gratitude, the more things you will find to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude has been proven to make us happier and to give us a more optimistic outlook on life. Living in gratitude also improves our sleep, energy levels, overall health, and ability to bounce back when we are ill.
At the beginning or end of each day (or both, if you’re so inclined), make a list of things that you are grateful for – mentally or on paper. These can be as broad as feeling grateful to have running water and access to medicine – or as specific as feeling grateful that your favorite song exists or that your favorite chair in the corner coffee shop was empty when you walked in this afternoon. You can start with a goal to list only five items per day. But it often happens that once you start thinking of things to be grateful for, you won’t be able to stop at only five!
3. Plan for fun
Having fun things to look forward to makes the world feel brighter, even on challenging days. Daydreaming about something you are excited about can be a happy place to mentally escape to during the day.The sensation of anticipation can be just as pleasurable to the brain as having the actual experience!
Think about what kinds of activities you can plan and get excited about. Most of us enjoy vacations, including simple overnight trips or staycations. But there are also concerts, plays, ballets, conventions, parties, and all sorts of interesting events to plan for in your own hometown. Just be mindful not to fall into “I’ll be happy when…” mode when planning events or vacations though! Looking forward to fun things should feel good. The goal is to enjoy the feeling of excitement (almost) as much as you’ll enjoy the experience when it’s time.
And there’s no reason why every day can’t hold something to look forward to. Working more fun into your day-to-day life can make a huge impact on how you feel. Find a time of the day like lunchtime or before bed, to regularly take a little bit of “you” time. You could also set aside a specific day of the week for yourself, every Thursday night or Sunday afternoon, for example. Whether you spend that time knitting, calling your best friend, watching a favorite show, going for a horseback ride, or curling up with a book and a glass of wine, having something pleasurable to regularly look forward to will make your life feel richer..
4. Do less (and don’t feel guilty about it)
You don’t have to take on the world. Saying “no” to tasks or invitations that you don’t have the energy for – or simply don’t want to do – is an act of kindness to yourself. You deserve your own kindness just as much as anyone asking for your help does! You are not required to donate all of your waking hours to chores (your own or other people’s), or activities you don’t love.
If you work outside your home, don’t bring work (or the baggage of gossip from your co-workers) home. The same goes for friends and family members that you feel drained after spending time around. Be mindful of how you are filling your time – don’t waste precious moments of your life on activities, events, people, or jobs that don’t make your heart feel happy.
5. Find a passion or hobby
If you feel like you’ve been in a rut, throwing your energy into something that you love can be rejuvenating. Do you have a hobby that you’ve always loved, but haven’t been making the time to enjoy? Or is there something you’ve always wanted to try and never got around to? Or maybe you still don’t know what your passion is! There’s still plenty of time to figure it out.
Think about what makes you feel happiest and most alive, and see where you can channel it into something fun. Do you enjoy being out in groups of new people (friends you haven’t met yet!) or would you prefer an activity you can work on at home by yourself? Do you feel most inspired when you are doing something artistic, or do you feel at your best when you’re up and moving your body?
No matter what kind of hobby floats your boat, the options are endless! You could volunteer at an animal shelter, as a tutor at the library, or for a cause that’s dear to your heart. Or you might feel drawn to playing a musical instrument, community theater, yoga, sewing, dancing, painting, gardening, writing poetry, or refinishing furniture. Find (or reconnect with) what you love, and make it a priority in your life!
Your life is happening in this moment. Don’t waste your precious time waiting for an excuse to “finally feel happy.” Find ways to connect with gratitude for all that you already have. Mindfully fill your days with activities that bring you joy – and don’t be afraid to say no to those that don’t. These seemingly simple steps truly are the secret to living a life you love.