How much do you truly love your life?
This might be the very first time you have been asked this question, but you could really be asking yourself this every day. Our decisions and choices create the world we inhabit. It is possible, if you aren't paying attention to where it is all going, that you may end up somewhere you never actually intended to go. While there are no quick fixes, there are a few adjustments you can make to start your journey and get back on the right path to loving your life.
If we are to love our lives we need to be spending a lot of our time and energy on things that are important to us. Yet often, we make decisions and say "yes" to things that take away our time as well as our energy.
For you to move forward, it may be well to commence by thinking about what the top three priorities in your life really are. If your answer is family, creativity, and adventure, for example then it might be hard to live a life where you are doing little more than boring, repetitive tasks, and missing out on important time with your loved ones. Does your life, your work, your home, actually reflect you and your priorities?
Get your diary out and take charge of your schedule.
Bring what you value the most into what you do. If you adore cooking and you're an office worker, bring home-made snacks to work for your colleagues to enjoy. For those who are missing out on family time, check if you are able to free up a little more non-negotiable time to spend with your kids and partner every week. Start with small beginnings. Spend an extra hour here and there on things that are deemed important to you. Make your time work for you.
2. Manage Expectations
So often people make themselves sick with misery simply because their lives are not meeting their expectations. It could be that your partner isn't the fairy tale soul mate you always fantasized about. Perhaps your job isn't the career that you thought it would be when you were younger. It could be that you are living day to day at an age when you thought you would be financially more independent.
There is no need to lessen your expectations of a happy, content life. But in these scenarios it can be helpful to sit down and figure out whether unhappiness is the direct result of a situation that isn't helping you, or if you are contrasting your life with a fantasy. Accepting people, jobs and life for what they are at this moment can be a healing experience for many. Your companion, husband or wife may not be the perfect soul mate you dreamed about - but comparing them to someone else will simply make you both miserable.
3. Count What's There - Not What's Missing
Remind yourself about everything that is good in your life. What does your partner do better than anyone else? What does your work provide you that you've stayed in it all this time? What made you choose this job in the first place? Some of the best things in life are not the strategies that come to fruition, but the surprises that the process brings with it.
4. Take Time Out
Even if your life is fantastic, everyone needs a break once in a while. You may have a job you love or have a wonderful family, but too large a serving of a good thing can be bad for you. Fatigue sets in, you begin to feel worn out, resentful, and wonder about changing your situation. Maybe nothing is wrong with your situation - you just need to step back and take a breather.
Research shows that people gain 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 vacations, spread out your annual leave to several shorter holidays distributed 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 absolutely nothing at all.
Time spent alone is important for mental and emotional well-being. Take more control over your daily schedule and plan for regular alone time. Take yourself on a date to a cafe, do the gardening, 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 day, even weekdays when you have to work and don't feel particularly passionate. If you look hard enough, you will always find some aspect to be passionate about.
When passion is lacking, it can be re-ignited by your favorite food, taking a course, or a night out with mates. Passion can flow from anywhere - it can be reading, creativity, saving animals, participating in sports, your friends, or visiting distant countries. Passion can come from something quite modest, like cooking a new dish. There isn't any right or wrong. Notice that evoke true excitement from within you, and also notice what kind of person inspires you.
What famous or notable person do you most wish you could be like? 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 fresh slate and learn something new.
Take a course in something you're curious about; visit a new city; experiment with exotic dishes; 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 entrepreneurs blog regularly about their thoughts, ideas and advice.
6. Learn to Love Yourself
Discovering a life you love is only possible if you are able to love yourself. This does not mean arrogance or denying that you have faults. Loving yourself is more or less 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 deserve 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 sometimes, you still deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion.
This isn't always easy. We don't necessarily learn to be good to ourselves while growing up. It is a skill that grows with time, and will keep on growing stronger provided we work at it. And the greater amount of 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 everything there is in it. It may not be perfect, but it is yours -- and now is the time to live it.
Honorable Mention: Peter James Field