Do you ever feel like, life is so amazing, I really am killing it? I should write the manual for how to live, because life just couldn’t get better than this? Life is so easy, I couldn’t love it more unless Channing Tatum was my pool boy? Everyone should be this happy, I don’t ever want it to change? Life is perfect?
No? Never said or thought any of those things? Nah, me either, but wouldn’t it be great if we did all feel that way about life.
While each one of us has different ideas, preferences and standards for what an amazing life should be, I think there are a few overall, general indications that you’re on the right track to loving life. Maybe if we did more of these things, we could become an authority for winning at life.
1. Expect the Unexpected
Ok, so while we would love snapshots of our perfect moments to last forever, and to call that life, it doesn’t quite work that way. The only thing we can rely on is that change is inevitable.
Although we may not realise it at the time, this is a good thing. Sure you may have thought your prom night was your best night ever at the time, but just imagine if that was the shining moment of your whole life and it never got any better than that.
Maybe you had an unplanned pregnancy at a young age and you thought your life was over at the time, but looking back you see that having your son or daughter was an amazing blessing and you wouldn’t change it for the world.
Sometimes we don’t know what is best for us. You probably didn’t plan to meet the love of your life, but maybe it happened for you and that has made all the difference to your world. Give life the benefit of the doubt and welcome change.
Change is good, but we have to accept the bad with the good. It’s called balance. How would you be able to appreciate the good, without the bad, right?
So, don’t be so rigid in what your perfect life should be or is. Enjoy the good stuff while you can, live for the moments, but accept that it won’t last forever and you can’t plan for everything. When we accept this about life, than we more easily flow through the bad times and discover more of the good along the way.
Appreciate it for the dynamic mystery that it is and be excited at what life has in store for you next.
2. Spend more time with family and loved ones than making money
With such demanding, hectic, high pressure lifestyles these days, it’s easy to see how we could mis-prioritise where our time goes. You may make the argument that you’re trying to give your family a better life, which is somewhat honourable, but don’t you think they would prefer to spend more time with you as a family, than to have a brand new home theatre system?
We play the game that society created where we have to make more and more money in our jobs in order to buy more and more things that we don’t really need. We end up feeling like we are constantly on a never-ending treadmill, trying to keep up with ‘the Joneses’, earning more to get the latest and newest technology so we can upgrade our house to impress other people.
At some point though, you should realise that killing yourself trying to reach that never-ending target is not what your family needs and not why we’re put on this earth, I’m guessing. There’s a big distinction in providing for your family’s needs and giving them everything they think they want because of what’s advertised on your 110-in ultra hd-tv.
If this is your life, I can guarantee that there are people in the world who’s families have the bare minimum, a roof over their heads and food on the table, but they are happier than you will ever be. I’ve seen it many times while travelling through Asia. They may not have much, but they have each other and they’re happy.
We take time for granted too much. We don’t realise how fast the kids will grow up and that the grandparents might not be here for much longer, or that illness can take it all away in a heartbeat. When that happens, you can’t throw your money at it to make everything better. Don’t live with regret for time misspent. Make sure your family gets most of your quality time, not your boss.
3. Don’t compare or judge your life with other people’s lives i.e. avoid gossip at all costs
How could you ever be happy in your life if you’re constantly comparing it to other people’s highlight reel. Fact is, you don’t know everything that happens behind the scenes of that family up on your pedestal anyway. Maybe they look like they’re doing well, but secretly their battling a failing marriage or alcohol addiction.
We only see what people want us to see. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. It’s hard enough trying to deal with our own lives, without constantly trying to keep up with other people’s.
Don’t judge. Judgement is a form of comparison. We’re all just making the most of what we have and dealing with life the best way we know how.
There is no manual for life (yet) so who are we to say what is right and wrong and how things should be done. It’s not our place. They aren’t going through the same things you are. They’re doing the best they can do and you’re doing the best you can do. That’s all anyone can do.
Trust me, you’ll live happier avoiding gossip of other people and just focusing on your own life.
4. Variety is key
I get that routine is important. Routine helps people handle stress. It helps kids and pets know what to expect and feel secure and stable in their lives. It helps life move more smoothly when it runs like clockwork. That’s when life seems more manageable and controllable.
For the everyday life, routine is good. But for the long term, it kills creativity, the quest to live life to the full, spontaneity and the making of memories and memorable moments.
Be careful not to contain life too much with routine or you’ll look back ten years from now and wonder what happened to life. If nothing significant happens, it becomes all one big blur. Don’t let the only thing you have to show for it, is your age and grey hairs.
Every weekend or at least every month, shake things up a bit. Go somewhere new, do something different. Create ideas and put them in a jar and pick one out whenever the urge for variety hits you.
Be spontaneous. Go to that concert or take that juggling class. Create date night with your significant other and separately with your child. Daddy dates and Mommy dates is a thing these days. Pick up a new hobby or plan your next overseas trip. Make sure you’re giving yourself the opportunity to make lifetime memories for your kids and family. Don’t let life just pass you by, unlived and unloved.
5. Spend more time laughing everyday
Laughing every day is not just fun and makes your life seem more enjoyable on the whole, but there are a number of health benefits associated with laughing. According to Gaiam, it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormone levels, works the abs, is great for your heart health, boosts your immunity, releases the body’s feel-good chemicals and in an indirect way, helps you live longer.
They say laughter is the best medicine and with the amount of mental and physical health benefits, I’d say they’re right. There are even cases of people curing their cancer with laughter (among other things).
But not only is it good for us to laugh, it is contagious. It makes people around us laugh. We become people who attract other people who are positive and like to laugh or who make us laugh. Laughter can help us connect more deeply and to strengthen relationships as well as diffuse conflict, negativity and bad situations.
If you’re in a relationship where you’re more upset than you are happy. If you cry more than laugh or don’t remember the last time you even laughed out loud, then make some changes.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. You can’t ‘kill it’ if you’re being emotionally killed. Improve your situation and make laughing your daily prescription.
6. Find a way to make money doing something that you enjoy doing
It’s all well and good to have a great home life, but if you dread getting out of bed in the morning to go to your work life, if you bring home your work and it interferes with your family time, or if you take out the stress and pressure of your work life on your family, then you need to make some serious changes.
We can’t win at life if we’re not loving every bit of it. Including work. You could always start your own business in an area that you are good at, that you enjoy or are passionate about.
It won’t be amazing everyday. There will be parts of the business you perhaps won’t enjoy doing or aren’t great at, but in the big picture view, it’s going to be more worth it than working in a job you hate. And besides, you’ll have more control over your earnings and time.
Or, if that’s not something you want to do, find a job that you know you will enjoy doing. A job that gives you a spring in your step and that you can’t wait to start everyday.
Sometimes it’s not about the job itself, it’s the people you work with. If this is the case and you still want to keep your job, apply for a transfer to another office if possible or propose work-from-home days in order to keep your dealing with negative people to a minimum. It’s important to surround yourself with people who help lift you up instead of bring you down.
7. Make time for yourself
Does this sound like you… You are constantly putting out fires at home or work; making sure the dog is fed, the teacher’s note is signed, the cupcakes are baked for school, the clothes are clean, the dry-cleaning is picked up and dinner is on the table on time. You’ve forgotten what ‘me’ time is. So often, we sacrifice ourselves and our needs to keep the peace and sanity of those around us. But what about our sanity?
Have you ever thought what would happen if you weren’t there? How would the day go? Would people manage without you? Think about the everyday things you do as well as the worst case scenarios and create backup plans for them that don’t involve you. Then slowly include some ‘me’ time to your day and give people a chance to deal with their own fires using your plan.
Sometimes teaching your kids or significant other to handle their own problems is better for them in the long run, then running to their rescue at every stage. You get more time for taking a bath, doing yoga, meditating, reading a book or whatever you want to do, and they learn how to be more responsible for themselves. Everyone wins.
We neglect ourselves so much that we eventually burn out. Slowly and silently. The only signs of it are our short fuses, our grey hairs and the bags under our eyes from the lack of quality sleep. Make time for yourself, maybe not everyday but once or twice a week at least. Give yourself a break and handle those greys!
8. Be organised and prepared
We wouldn’t feel like we are putting out fires everyday, if we were more organised and prepared. This is true for work or home. It’s probably impossible to be prepared for every eventuality, but generally, the things that keep coming up shouldn’t make us run around with panic and fear in our eyes. It’s all about time management, having solutions and systems in place and putting them into practice.
Really look at your day and see if there are things in there that aren’t necessary. Things that waste time and could be eliminated.
The 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Use the rule to effectively manage your time, your day, your workload, your exercise routine, your diet, anything that you need to do. It will help with productivity, time saving, and stress management.
Hack your life and streamline it to contain only those things that matter and are worth doing.
9. Handle stress effectively
Have effective ways to deal with stress when it rears it’s ugly head. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’ve tackled your time management with number 8, but still we know things change and we can’t always anticipate or predict what that change will be, which can be stressful.
To more smoothly roll with the punches, have a routine you like to do when stress commands your attention.
Firstly, remove stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, etc. This will only aggravate the situation. Do some sort of exercise and get those endorphins (‘feel-good’ hormones) flowing. Get more sleep and delight in a relaxation technique. This could be a relaxing bath, meditation or a spa day.
If the stress is really overwhelming, talk to someone about it or write about it in your journal. Sometimes it helps to get it out of your head and maybe get some feedback to help put things in perspective.
Sometimes we get stressed if we think we have no control over the situation. Think about possible ways to solve the problem and you’ll start to feel more in control. If you can’t change it, make the wise decision to accept it. Once you accept what can’t be change, we release our need for control, over it.
10. Share your secret sauce…
Finally, share your happiness with others. Spread the good feelings, the laughter, the enjoyment, the secret to time management, to handling stress and loving your job. Be a beacon for rocking life and people will flock to find out what your secret is. Make other people happy or at least make someone’s day, not just family and friends, but complete strangers. Spread the love.
To win at life isn’t about what car you drive or how much money you make. It’s not about the appliances you have in your home or how many designer handbags you own. Winning at life is about making life rock for you. Not just work. Rock!
It’s about loving your life so completely, that every failure, catastrophe, disaster and flaw is just another feature of your story, not an obstacle meant to break you. When you start to focus on what’s important, remove what isn’t working, accept what you can’t change and also go after what you want, that’s when you’ll win at adulting, and life.