“Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you've lost them forever.” ~Wayne Dyer
How much of your time do you spend fretting, worrying about the past or the future, doing things you don't like, or frittering away time with mind-numbing activities?
Think about it for a moment, and be honest.
Are you an over-thinker?
Do you create endless to-do lists?
Do you spend lots of time watching TV or surfing the net?
Do you work too hard or too long?
As I've gotten older and the reality of life's fleeting nature has smacked me hard in the face, I've begun to see each day, each moment as a golden opportunity for enjoyment, happiness, and love. Oh how I wish I had felt this way in my younger years.
If we live to age 90, from birth to death we have 32,850 days on Earth. Our Earth has been around 4.55 billion years. Our life here is just a blip.
This awareness has provoked a lot of soul searching for me. (Some might call it a mid-life crisis!) I have thought, read and studied a lot about what comprises a happy life and have determined five areas that are key to enjoying life to the fullest.
1. Living in integrity. This is something you must define yourself by creating your own personal operating system. But in general it includes living in alignment with your values and your personal/religious beliefs; being authentic and honest with yourself and others; and living in balance financially.
2. Making a contribution. Whether through our work or otherwise, we all need to feel we have a purpose and have made some mark on the world. We need to feel that our lives have some intrinsic meaning. Having a passion and sharing it with the world provides tremendous joy and fulfillment.
3. Having good relationships. We need loving, supportive, and healthy relationships with romantic partners, family, friends, and co-workers. We certainly know the impact of bad relationships. Good ones offer us joy, contentment, and connectedness.
4. Being healthy. When we feel good physically, we feel good mentally and emotionally. We we feel bad physically, we feel bad all over. It is hard to enjoy life when your physical health is poor.
5. Having pleasure. There are so many things in this big world to enjoy — more than we could ever experience in one lifetime. If we are living in the framework our integrity, then pleasurable experiences should be pursued and enjoyed regularly — without guilt. Having fun is essential to savoring life.
As you examine these five areas in your own life, remember that first defining your integrity and creating your own personal operating system will make it far easier to define the other four areas. When we live outside of our integrity, it casts a shadow over all other areas of our lives.
Here are 26 ideas for savoring life and living it to the fullest in these five critical areas:
1. Define or refine your values and personal operating system. Know what is important to you, and seek to live in accordance with that.
2. Restore your integrity wherever you have stepped out of it. Make amends, correct the situation, shift the balance. This will reduce agitation and guilt.
3. Be true to yourself. Be authentic. Look for ways that you are pretending, acting to impress, or living out some other person's expectations rather than your own.
4. Examine your job. You spend many hours a day in this job. If you don't love it, or at least like it, you are frittering away a good chunk of your life. This is imperative for a happy life. Take control of your career.
5. Know your passions. If you don't know what you are passionate about, find out. Take the time to do this, and then find a way to regularly incorporate your passion into your daily life. Discovering your passion dramatically increases happiness.
6. Give to others daily. Share your knowledge, passions, skills, and time with someone else on a regular basis. This doesn't require a grand gesture. Impacting one life can make a huge ripple on the world. It feels good.
7. Show kindness. In the smallest interactions, be kind. Choose kindness over being right, indignant, smarter, richer, or too busy. Kindness feels good to you and to the recipient. And it's infectious.
8. Release some stuff. If you have loads of material things that you don't use, release them. Give them away to someone who can use them.This is tremendously satisfying.
9. Release some money. If you have plenty of money, use it for good. Contribute it in a way that makes one person or the whole world a better place.
10. Just listen. Listen to someone's story, their pain, their joyful event, their boring anecdote, their fears. Give someone the gift of really hearing them.
11. Nurture your friendships. Be the initiator. Express your feelings for them. Learn more about your friends. Be there for good and bad times.
12. Be the person you want in others. Define what you want in a relationship, then be that person yourself. Like attracts like.
13. Let it go. Be quick to forgive and quick to forget. Holding grudges and nurturing old wounds is unhealthy and makes you unhappy.
14. Know when to let go. However, some relationships can pull you down. Take a look at those in your life. Is it time to let go? How much energy are you giving away to them?
15. Expand your network. Actively meet new people. They can enhance your life, introduce you to new ideas, pleasures, and other new friends.
16. Love yourself. A healthy love for yourself with healthy self-confidence creates healthy relationships.
17. Communicate often. We so often misunderstand and misinterpret one another. Or we say things we don't really mean. Learn healthy communication skills and use them often, particularly in your primary relationship.
18. Educate yourself on nutrition. Read books, blogs, or magazines about proper eating for good health. Then eat that way. If you are unhealthy, it will undermine your happiness in all areas of your life.
19. Go outside every day. Sunlight boosts your mood and provides vitamin D. Being in nature enlivens your soul and makes you feel connected to the world around you.
20. Get moving. You know this. Get some exercise. Walk, bike, run, swim, dance, stretch, lift weights. You can make it fun. Take care of this remarkable house for your soul.
21. Cut back, simplify, reduce stress. Find balance in your life by letting some things go. You can't do or be everything. Pick a few things, and enjoy them fully. Identify where you are stressed, and deal with it.
22. Find an outlet. There are difficult times in every life. Find someone, a coach, counselor, minister, or friend, who can help you through them. Talking about your problems with someone trusted helps you heal and cope and stay mentally and emotionally healthy.
23. Play often. Play shouldn't end at childhood. Have fun regularly. Define what is fun for you and go do it every week.
24. Increase your travel. The world truly is your oyster. There is so much to explore and see and enjoy. Pick some places that intrigue you. Save your money. Plan some trips.
25. Unplug. Television and computer have pulled us away from real living. Actively reduce the amount of time you spend in front of them. Fill that time with pleasurable activities instead. Read, cook, play a sport, meet with friends, do something creative, make love, meditate, go to the theater, look at the stars, chop wood, carry water.
26. Think less. Be more. Act more. Negative thoughts create negative feelings. Actively seek to stop negative thinking, and just be in the moment. If negative thoughts and feelings are getting intrusive, do something distracting. Pick one of the activities above and savor it.
It takes thought, planning, and a dose of wisdom to create a happy life — a life that you can savor. Experience teaches us these lessons, and wisdom helps us to embrace them.
If you have some ways that you savor life rather than waste it, please share them with everyone in the comments.
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