It is an unfortunate truth that many of us don’t already feel like we’re living a life we love. Or perhaps we do love our lives, elements of it, but we’re not quite living the life we ideally envision for ourselves. There are two ways to resolve this issue.
To live a life we can love, we can either love the one we already have or change it to one we will. These two options may not be as different as they seem. In order to love the life we have, a change still needs to take place. Either way, we need to actively create changes in our livelihoods.
One way or another, work needs to be done on ourselves, by either reframing what is or by actually changing what is. Both require a certain level of introspection. This article will help you with this task.
- 1. Change your perspective
- 2. Find out what’s important to you and bring more of it into your life
- 3. Do things for your physical and mental wellbeing
- 4. Nurture important relationships
- 5. Try new things
- 6. Do things for others
- 7. Go to your happy place, literally
- Wrapping up
This article is part of a much bigger guide on learning how to become happy that I’m sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet right now. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
1. Change your perspective
Sometimes it can feel like things are simply stuck the way they are, and the way they are is unsatisfactory. This is a fallacy that’s caused by negative thinking.
In order to prove it wrong, we have to be willing to grit our teeth and make an effort anyway. We have to somehow change our perspectives.
Can you fake it till you make it?
Whether we believe in the change that can take place, we must sometimes fake it till we make it. It still beats moping around doing nothing about it – that’s one certain way not to affect change.
Whether you believe it or not, the trick is to tell yourself it will work regardless, and to do it anyway.
This might be doing the things you already know on some level might help, for example:
- A run a week
- Healthy diet
- Relinquishing responsibilities that bring no positives but excess stress
Or it might be changing perspective directly, through gratitude, affirmations, positive visualization, or mindfulness. Sometimes the same ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality may be required for these, particularly if they pique your skepticism initially.
On the topic of circumventing scepticism, it’s not hard to find evidence legitimising these practices as effective. For example, much research on gratitude has shown clearly in its results that those who practice gratitude felt better about their lives as a result.
Studies show some of the changes you can make
Research on therapeutic processes using mindfulness has shown it to be effective for cultivating more positive outlooks on life with people suffering not only from depression, but from other life circumstances that breed negativity, like traumatic events and even physical illness.
It can be easy to turn our noses up at many of these practices and convince ourselves they won’t affect change, but the evidence is out there that, if we persevere with them anyway, they likely will.
And there many different ways to change our mind frame directly, so as with all things we can find a path that suits us better. Here are just some examples of perspective-changing practices to look into:
- Self-love practice
- Positive visualization
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
There are many other forms and variants out there so it’s worth taking a look!
2. Find out what’s important to you and bring more of it into your life
Though the practices mentioned can drastically improve our lives, creating a life we love can be more than a matter of perspective, of course.
Sometimes we want things we don’t have – a career we enjoy, more time for our creative endeavors, meaningful relationships, and so on.
It’s not always clear what it is exactly that we want, however. We may be misguided by jealousy of others, notions of what we feel we ought to do, or we might simply have no clue beyond vague ideas.
How to find the things that you want more of in your life
The first step to creating a life we love is finding out what we enjoy and value. There are many ways to accomplish this. Doing so doesn’t have to be difficult and can in fact be fun.
For example, this where creative mind mapping and listing can be useful. Writing a list of your likes and dislikes, your skills and weaknesses.
Often when listing such things it can be hard to think outside the box and get some new ideas, but remember that being good with people is a skill, an enthusiasm for social media can be a ‘like’ worth pondering.
Everyone has something they enjoy and something they are good at, sometimes they’re simply hiding in plain sight. They don’t seem like anything important somehow; but if you’re good at it or enjoy it, whatever it is, it’s important.
The power of a bucket list
To find what you’re really drawn to, without concerning yourself with the ‘realistic’ obstacles right off the bat, writing a bucket list can allow your creative mind to explore all your aspirations.
Becoming a space dragon might be unrealistic but allowing yourself to at least jot down the idea and breeze on to the next, and so on and so on, is a much more effective way to arouse a substantial idea-pool to work from. And who knows, perhaps you could spend time drawing space dragons, or writing about them, turning an initially ridiculous-seeming aspiration into something real: a hobby or profession.
There are no stupid ideas, it just depends on what you take from the idea, and how it might actively bring more happiness into your life.
Your hobbies and interests
So think about your hobbies and interests, what do you do in your free time, what things you would like to do but have not tried? The things that resonate with us are the things we should be engaging with more in our lives.
List everything in each category, circle ones that matter most or that are most feasibly brought more into your life.
For example, I am interested in and passionate about mental health but also about writing, so writing about mental health was an obvious choice for me, but still only one of many options. I also like nature, board games and social activities. So I might try to find new and specific versions of these things, tailored in a way that I like, and try to make them happen more often in life.
If you still struggle with the process of finding out what could bring more joy and meaning into your life, a life coach or therapist could also help you to discover your callings. Some people’s professions are built around doing just that!
3. Do things for your physical and mental wellbeing
Finding our callings and putting more of what we love into life is the key to creating a life we love. But it’s not all that’s important. We also have to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally.
Even if we work a job we love and frequently engage with our passions, we can lose happiness to stress or poor physical health. In order to keep things balanced, any life at its best should include some attention to exercise and mental management.
Again the options are boundless for exercise, and this could take many different forms – from walking 10,000 steps a day to rowing, climbing to boxing, weight training to even Wii Fit.
It doesn’t really matter as long as you’re keeping healthy and you’re enjoying it. Enjoying it is a win-win because not only will this make it much easier and more enjoyable to keep a fitness regime, but once again it’s incorporating something you enjoy into your life.
It directly creates more happiness.
4. Nurture important relationships
Doing more of what you love, finding ways to make them more prominent and frequent in your life, and taking care of your well-being almost cover all your bases for creating a life you’ll love. But there is one more extremely important factor: relationships.
We as humans are social creatures and we thrive with social connections. We seek partners, family and friendships.
Love for others and receiving love are two things that improve happiness immeasurably. Social interaction is understood down to a physiological level to increase happiness, releasing oxytocin and dopamine (natural, mood-improving chemicals) when we do it.
Of course, we might not love everyone in our lives, and some relationships can even be toxic, but what’s important is to recognize the difference and, as with everything else I’ve mentioned, incorporate more of what brings joy – those relationships with people we do cherish.
5. Try new things
Most of us have not tried everything. In fact, no one has. It’s safe to assume, then, that our list of likes and interests is limited, based on our limited experience.
For some of us, this may be more or less so than others, but if you find your list of current interests and likes falling short quite quickly, it might be time to try new things.
I’ve never tried windsurfing before, for example, but I think I’d like it.
If I tried it and found that I didn’t, that’s still crossing something off the list and making progress towards discovering what might be a keen interest or hobby, even a lifelong passion.
It’s worth exploring, considering you could come across something that is THE thing that makes you love life most of all – perhaps you simply haven’t had a chance to find it so far.
Perhaps you, like so many of us, haven’t really been looking!
6. Do things for others
Doing things for others is both grounding, connecting us to others in the world around us, but also makes us feel good about ourselves.
It reminds us that we are not the only important thing in life, that we are all connected. This feeling of connection to the greater world can and does inspire many to love life in a way that they otherwise couldn’t.
7. Go to your happy place, literally
Your environment alone can be a major factor in happiness, and in enjoying your waking existence.
If we’re surrounded by things we hate, our life might never be the one we love. Think about where you’re happiest and go there more often.
Travel itself might be one of the things you enjoy and put on your big list of interests. But even if it isn’t or isn’t as important as other interests, it can be a good way to gain new experiences and surroundings, both of which fall under the ‘try new things’ category and may lead to discovering more list items to add.
When surrounded by an ever-present sensory experience of somewhere that makes us happy, it’s much easier to feel a new lease of life, to feel rejuvenated and more like we’re really living a life we love.
All in all, creating the life we love is a simple (perhaps not so simple) matter of putting more of what we enjoy into our lives. This might seem obvious, but many of us do not pause to do so. And so the trick is taking the time to figure out what a life you love would look like, and how to set about making it happen. Hopefully, this article has helped with some ideas.
To recap, creating a life you’ll love means:
- Changing perspective
- Working out what you love and bringing more of it into your life
- Spending more time with people who bring you joy
- Going to your happy places
- Doing things for your mental and physical wellbeing
- Doing things for others
- Trying new things
Do you have any ideas that you want to add? Or want to share your experience with some of the tips on the list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Henry CollardMental health writer
Mental health blogger with a passion for learning ways to improve wellbeing. I also love to write fantasy, learn about history and play video games. Which I suppose makes me an all-round nerd.