When I look back to my life even three years ago, it is unrecognisable. I think the defining feature for me at this time was a chronic, low-level anxiety. I knew that I wanted more fun and adventure in my life, but I had no idea how to get it. I was too busy stressing about my endless to-do lists, and agonising about deadlines. Days off were spent in this dire state of ticking off tasks and appointments from my list and repeatedly calculating how much time that would leave me for myself. Endlessly procrastinating because some of the tasks I had set myself were unappealing, until once again another day had passed with very little time for fun, adventure or any of the others things I had actually wanted to do with my time.
Sound familiar? Well the list below outlines the main steps I took to get myself out of this vicious cycle and introduce some enjoyment to my everyday life. This list won’t have you scaling Everest, or crossing the Gobi desert, but instead it will teach you the more important skills of first introducing fun and contentment into your day to day life. Because without this, you may find yourself halfway up Everest without having enjoyed it, or even really noticed you were there! Modern living has stripped us of a lot, but in my opinion our ability to just enjoy what we are doing, and experience contentment is the most important thing that we have lost. Read on to discover how to get it back…
For me this was the game changer. This was the single most important ingredient in forming my new contented life. I actually don’t remember how exactly I discovered mindfulness. I’m not sure if someone suggested it to me, or I read something online. All I know is I reached a stage in my life where I was so frazzled and so burnt-out that I could barely even find enjoyment in my hobbies or in spending time with friends. And then, when I most needed it, there was mindfulness.
I used the Headspace App which worked wonderfully for me. It begins by teaching you basic meditation techniques and then once you complete your basic training you open up a complete range of themes ‘packs’. These address all manner of things from anxiety, relationships, to sporting performance! However, I am aware some people don’t get on with these recordings and find them more irritating than anything. The key is to find a method that works for you.
For me, mindfulness taught me how to slow down. How to stop planning for and panicking about the future and instead how to relax and take the time to enjoy the present moment. It sounds so small, so obvious, but for me it quite literally changed my life. And if you are honest with yourself, and really take the time to think about it, you will probably realise how much time you spend either planning the future or dwelling in the past. Our lives are right here, right now, and mindfulness is a way for us to start really living in the moment.
This was a huge part of my journey towards enjoying my every day life more. Through discovering and practising minimalism I reduced my dependence on every day objects for providing happiness. We are stuck in a culture which turns to material belongings to try and make ourselves happy. But without first learning how to be happy within ourselves this joy from purchasing material goods can only ever be temporary. Minimalism teaches us to be contented within ourselves and free our lives from slavish addiction to buying our way to happiness.
Once we become ‘grown ups’ many of us fall into the trap of taking our lives too seriously. We fall prey to routine and we think we must act in a certain way to be taken seriously. But without being able to break this routine spontaneously to experience joy then our lives can quickly become stale and boring. Try this: next time you are walking home from work take a break from your regular routine – detour via the beach or the park or buy yourself an ice cream. You must make the effort to add some fun into your daily life if you want to get more enjoyment out of it in the future.
4) Ability to prioritise
You can’t do everything. I’m sorry, I know you want to but you can’t. You must take the time to think about the goals, people and activities that are truly important to you. The ones that will bring you most joy. Mindfulness and minimalism will be invaluable stepping stones to help you come to this list. Once you have decided on this you must ensure that these are the things that you prioritise every day. I like to make a list of activities that I genuinely enjoy doing and that bring me joy. Then I aim to do at least one of these every day.
Honestly, for me, this was the last piece to fall into place on my journey towards a happier and more contended life. But it was really the thing that brought it all together. It is difficult, even if you do all the above things religiously, to be a genuinely happy person if you harbour resentment towards other people. From holding a grudge against family members or loved ones to cursing the car that cut you up or the person who cut in line for coffee. Let it go. Your grudge will only hold you back from becoming the person you want to be. Every single person has their own struggles and their own difficulties. Accept them, take a deep breath, and let them go. This one takes serious practice, and unless you are the next Budda or Dali Lama you will slip up regularly. But I promise you it is worth the effort.
Thank you for reading and I hope this will help guide you in taking your first steps towards a happier you. Subscribe to the mailing list for updates and for more information about each of the above steps, including useful exercises and resources. I look forward to reading your comments as you implement some of these practices into your own life.