How much do you really love your life?
This may be the very first time you have been asked this question, but you probably should really be asking yourself this almost every day. Our decisions and choices create the world we inhabit. It is possible, if you aren’t paying attention to where it’s all headed, that you may end up somewhere you never really intended to go. While there really are no quick fixes, there are a few steps you can take to begin your journey and get back on track to loving your life.
In order to love our life we should be spending a lot of our time and energy on aspects that are important to us. Yet often, we make decisions and say “yes” to incidentals that take away our time together with our energy.
For you to move forward, it may be well to begin by thinking about what the main 3 priorities in your life really are. If your answer is family, creativity, and adventure, for instance then it might be hard to love a life where you are doing little more than mundane, repetitive tasks, and missing out on important time with your family. Does your life, your career, your home, really do reflect you and those things you hold dear?
Take your diary in hand and be in charge of your schedule.
Bring what you love into what you do. If you love cooking and you work in an office, bring home-made snacks to work for your colleagues to enjoy. For those who are lacking family time, see if you can free up a little more non-negotiable time to spend with your children and partner every week. Start with little beginnings. Invest an extra hour every now and then on what’s important to you. Make your time suit your needs.
2. Manage Expectations
So often people drown in misery because their lives are not regularly meeting their expectations. It could be that your partner isn’t the absolute soul mate you always fantasized about. Perhaps your job isn’t the career that you thought it would be when you were studying. It could be that you are living day to day at an age when you thought you would be financially more comfortable.
There is no need to scale back your expectations of a happy, full life. But in these situations it can be helpful to sit down and work out whether unhappiness is the result of a situation that isn’t working for you, or if you are comparing your life with an illusion. Accepting people, jobs and life for what they are at this moment can be a healing experience for many. Your partner, husband or wife may not be the perfect soul mate you dreamed about – but comparing them to someone who doesn’t exist will only make you both unhappy.
3. Count What’s There – Not What’s Missing
Remind yourself about all those things that are good in your life. What does your partner do better than anyone else? What does your job provide you that you’ve stayed on all this time? What made you choose this job in the first place? Most of the wonders of life are not the plans that come to fruition, but the surprises along the route.
4. Take Time Out
Even if your life is fantastic, each of us needs a break from time to time. You may have a career you love or have a great family, but too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Fatigue can set in, you begin to feel depleted, resentful, and wonder about changing your circumstances. Maybe nothing is wrong with your situation – you just need to stand back and take a breather.
Research shows that people attain much more benefit before their holiday than during or after the holiday. This has led researchers to suggest that anticipation of a holiday is as important as the holiday itself. Plan and schedule regular holidays, break up your annual leave to several shorter holidays scattered throughout the year, and get regular mini-breaks in the form of a night out with friends, weekend camping trips to get a change of scenery, and taking time to just be by yourself and do practically nothing.
Spending time alone is beneficial for mental and emotional health. Take more control over your daily schedule and plan for regular alone time. Take yourself on a date to a restaurant, read a book, go for a run, or embark on an adventure.
5. Find Your Passion
Experiencing passion is an important portion of living a full and meaningful life. Inject passion into each single day, even weekdays as you work and don’t feel particularly passionate. If you search hard enough, you can always find some aspect to be passionate about.
When passion is lacking, it might be re-ignited by your favorite meal, taking a course, or a night out with friends. Passion can flow from anywhere – it may be reading, creativity, helping others, partiipating in sports, your friends, or visiting neighbouring countries. Passion can come from something really modest, such as eating strawberries. There is no right or wrong. Notice things that evoke true excitement from deep inside you, and also notice what kind of person inspires you.
What famous or notable person do you most wish you could be? This might be the first step in realizing how to live the life you love. If you genuinely aren’t sure what your passions are, start with a clean slate and learn something new.
Take a course in something you’re curious about; visit a new town; experiment with exotic foods; start meeting new people, or check online and start following blogs on specific subjects that draw your attention. Many of the world’s finest chefs, writers, artists, designers, architects, athletes, innovators and entrepeneurs blog regularly about their thoughts, ideas and advice.
6. Learn to Love Yourself
Discovering a life you love is only possible if you can love yourself. This does not mean arrogance or denying that you have faults. Loving yourself focuses on being your own best friend, a person who embraces you on both good days, and bad days when things don’t go to plan.
Acknowledge and accept your flaws and shortcomings, but resolve to look after yourself well. You have the right to be loved and treated well, by yourself and by others. You merit a good life that makes you happy. Not because you are perfect, but because you are flawed and human, and even though you may find it difficult at times, nonetheless you still deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion.
This isn’t always straightforward. We don’t always learn to be good to ourselves while growing up. It is a skill that grows with practice, and will keep on growing stronger provided we work at it. And the more love we give to ourself, the less we will have to run around fixing problems or struggling to find solutions. Loving your life can become a habit.
Above all, foster an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for the gift that is your life, and for anything there is in it. It may not be ideal, but it’s yours — and now is the time to live it.
Peter Field is one of the leading British hypnotherapists and a Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Click for information on his hypnotherapy Birmingham and London practices. He is the author of the best selling hypnotherapy book ‘The Chi of Change’.