Where on Earth do I begin?

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…

1) Mindfulness

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.

2) Minimalism

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.

3) Playfulness

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.

5) Compassion

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.

Cx

18 Comments on “Where on Earth do I begin?”

  1. We all take journeys of one sort or another all the time. One that lets us explore the beauty of human nature, our own characteristic, are usually the most rewarding of them. I always go around saying that a little introspection would do this world good and it seems that you seem to have discovered that. I wish you all the best in your travels, those that take you to far away places, and the ones that take you inside to a place that has always been a part of you and may sometimes find it hard to find the light.

  2. What a beautiful and honest post! It took me some time to figure out who I really am and what I want in life. And i think it´s good to take that time. That´s the only way you can be truly happy

  3. Brilliant post, and exactly what I needed to read! I’ve tried a few times to get into mindfulness, but my anxiety has been winning at pulling me back in over the last year as I’ve faced many challenges, and it’s taken a lot of joy out of my life. I have recently implemented what you mentioned, doing one thing a day which I genuinely enjoy, and am trying to take care of myself a lot better than I was before. It’s a work in progress, but I’m feeling hopeful rather than defeated for the first time in a long time!

    1. Thank you Samantha for your honest comment. I think a lot of people suffer like this but are too scared to talk about it. It sounds like you are doing exactly the right things, I wish you luck and happiness ❤️

  4. Minimalism is something I’ve really been trying to get into over the past few months. Since travelling and seeing so many people so happy with so little to their name has really made me reevaluate my priorities. There are some other great tips here! Really given me a lot to think about 🙂

    1. It is so true, travel really changes your perspective about life and what is important. Good luck with your journey!

  5. Since I started traveling, I have learned to value minimalism. One of my pet peeves is dragging heavy luggage around. When I did my first round the world trip, I learned that it was possible to survive summer and winter with just a couple of tees, one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, one pair of sturdy shoes, one pair of sandals, one fleece, and one rain jacket.

  6. I think we have so much pressure put on us in our society; to behave a certain way, like certain things, to have lots of material possessions. It can be hard to stop thinking this way even if it doesn’t make you happy. You’ve got some really good solutions here and I think I need to take some of your points on board, especially mindfulness!

  7. This is a very good post, we all need to remember to take it easy and be kinder to ourselves… But it is so hard! I do a to do list every morning and rarely get to go through it all…

  8. Thank you so much for the inspiring article, now I will break point 5 and let you know how I relate with it.
    5) Compassion – Well I am the kind of person who doesn’t let go of things until I take revenge, I get angry on people and let them take over my whole life with hatred. I realised I need to change this thing about me. But failed time and again, but suddenly a few days ago I realised I am successful in ‘not having a grudge and moving on’. I sure avoid people who gave me a cause to form the grudge but nowadays I can atleast prevent myself from ruining my happiness by being angry or planning revenge all the time! The company I spend most of the time with caused the change. Initially I was in company of very negative people, but after my relocation I am in company of very positive people. This simple difference brought in such a huge change in me that I had been struggling to achieve my whole life!

  9. These are all amazing characteristics that we should all be striving for. Mindfulness and being present in the moment, without anxiety about the future, is the one I struggle with. Minimalism is something I’m working towards but I don’t think I will have a hard time achieving it. And playfulness is one of my best attributes! Thank you for this beautiful post and lovely reminder.

  10. minimalism has been a huge game changer for me. that, and journaling how I am feeling. I often go for long walks on the beach with the dog, and take this time to reflect on how i am feeling and what i want most out of life.

  11. When something happened to me a few years ago, I realized that I have to be kind to myself. We only put importance to ourselves when we have gone through a difficult time. Mindfulness is the most challenging for me. However, I am trying my best to let go of things which I cannot control. It is too much pressure and not practical. I have also stopped buying a lot of clothes because I do not need them. Have you watched the Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things? It was great. I learned a lot. It is possible to live without so many things.

    1. I haven’t seen that documentary, but I will definitely look it up. For me minimalism is the biggest challenge on this list, but so worthwhile!

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