Sometimes, as we age, we forget to notice the little things that can bring joy; the smell of a sunshine filled day, the sound of laughter, a project that used to intrigue us but now is so “normal” it barely hits the radar, a crisp Granny Smith apple, or the endorphin rush a good workout fills us with. We have stopped living an authentic life and instead we are cruising on auto-pilot waiting for the next day filled with tasks and commitments. Some people might tell you to look at the life you have and be grateful for it, and I agree with that sentiment, but I also think that it is important to look at what is causing you to check-out and miss-out on the things that used to make you smile and then find a way to renew your passion for life and fall in love again with who you are, where you are, and find a renewed sense of purpose for the short number of years you have here on earth.
1. STOP LIVING IN THE PAST
Someone who is stuck reliving “glory days” or memories cannot be fully present in the “here and now”. At some point you have to let those bits go so that you can focus on what you have now, where you are now, and how to obtain your goals in the future. No-one ever said letting go of your past would be easy, but by engaging yourself now you are open to the possibilities that are available. Let go of the past and live now, love now, find the things and people that make you better and enjoy the gift you have been given.
2. READ A BOOK BEFORE BED
Studies show that in order to truly shut our brain down for the night and encourage a good sleep pattern we need to disengage from electronic stimulation. By reading a book, you are encouraging your body to slip into a more relaxed state. Plus there are a ton of great books available ( I prefer borrowing from the library but you can also purchase them via online-I appreciate the deals you can get at Amazon for new or used books or at a retail store like Costco, Walmart, a local thrift shop where most books will be a few dollars!!, or join abook swapping group.)
Everyday, including this moment right now, you are “plugged in” to an electronic media device and in some ways these instruments have taken over our ability to engage with ourselves and with other people. On Facebook I have friends who will post that they are taking a “break” from online living, kind-of like a vacation, and then when they come back they post all the wonderful things they had time to do, and each time I read one of those stories I am glad for that person that they found something to draw them out, out of the comfort of a recliner with a remote and computer! Unplug from your cell phone for a whole day (preferably not a work-day:) )-I’m not asking you to get fired!! I’m encouraging you to remember what it felt like before technology was mobile, when a cell phone was huge and a luxury most of us didn’t have, forget about the notebooks or ipads, and turn off the tv-just enjoy yourself. Take a hike, take a walk, visit a friend, host a fire pit party, wash your car, do something, anything that requires you to get out and moving.
4. FIND A HOBBY
Pretty self-explanitory-find something you like to do, have wanted to try, have a friend that already does, something you see on the internet, or read about. Find something new or old to try and go for it. Use sites like Groupon and Living Social to find inexpensive ways to do a trial run of a new activity at a reduced cost.
It is scientifically proven that volunteering or engaging in altruistic activities enhances mood, helps and encourages others, and can give you more self-confidence. Plus, who doesn’t like to find an organization that they have a connection to or are passionate about. Be a member of your community. Be a beacon of shining inspiration and enjoy the rewards that you receive from being kind to others while in turn utilizing your skills to help others.
6. ADOPT A PET
I advocate for adopting pets from local animal shelters and non-profit organizations if you are in a stable position with time, energy, finances, and appropriately sized pet for you living condition. There are over 327,000 pets available on Petfinder right now. Local animal shelters are desperate for forever homes for dogs, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs, rats, snakes, and more. Shelters nationwide have seen a 30% increase in number of animals being surrendered as the economy became more difficult. By adopting a pet you are not only helping save an animals life, you are also prolonging your own. Pets are great companions, terrific workout partners who won’t care if it rains or not, and can become a part of your family. Pets ROCK:)
7. SAY YES
Frequently I find myself saying no, I just don’t have time, I’m too tired, not my thing, blah blah blah. What I really need to be saying is YES to opportunity, YES to the learning experiences being offered, and YES to living my life to the fullest. I look at people who live that way and I admire them, sure I feel a little jealous of their freedom, but I also realize that I don’t have to be extreme. It could be something as simple as my husband asking me to go to Home Depot with him-all I have to do is say YES! Making changes can be stressful, overwhelming, and uncomfortable but by saying YES we are giving ourselves permission to enjoy the unknown, the freedom to trust ourselves, and the gift of an open horizon.
Stop talking so much and listen to what others are saying. Listen to your mate, your partner, your best friend, your elders, your children, your co-workers, the bus driver, the checkout lady, the doorman–find out what they have to say and who they are. See the world through a different set of eyes and appreciate the beauty of the gift of expanded sight.
9. DE-CLUTTER YOUR LIFE AND HOME
Clutter on the “outside” is a sign of clutter on the “inside”. We live in a society that is disposable. Everywhere you look you are encouraged to purchase a new item, to upgrade, to buy buy buy. But, in reality we don’t need more stuff, what we need are useful items that ease our lives without overtaking us. Do an inventory room by room and see if you can get rid of a few items from each space. Do you have 15 bottles of partially full shampoo? Do you have clothes you don’t or probably won’t wear? How much are you kids playing with the toys enveloping their bedrooms? Simplify. Get rid of the clutter and feel lighter, feel cleaner, and less stressed.
Put on music that makes your heart sing and wiggle it. It doesn’t matter if you suck or are great at dancing, there is just something about movement that encourages a smile, a laugh, a silliness that kids have that we adults seem to have forgotten. It’s not lost, you just misplaced it. Find it. Then Dance in your living room, your bathroom, your kitchen, on the way to the subway, in a club, wherever the mood strikes you-let the music lift your spirit and bring that beautiful smile back to your face.
Find your inner happy and fall in love again with yourself-because you are pretty great, you deserve to be happy, and by living for now and for your future, you give yourself the greatest gift of all-the ability to be happy and the freedom to enjoy living a more authentic life.
As always I welcome your questions or comments-I love hearing from my readers!