When we talk about enriching our lives, we rarely mean with wealth. That’s for good reason, seeing as the common line is ‘money can’t buy happiness’. However, most of us spend our entire lives chasing money, working to live or to get to a place where we don’t have to work anymore.
This is sad, as the journey often takes most of our lives, only reaping the benefits in old age. We often forget the things that make life more worthwhile in the “now”. But, how can we use these things to enrich our lives?
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways our lives can be enriched right now, without needing to wait for wealth or ‘success’. No one should have to wait for decades for happiness and fulfillment. We have to enrich our lives right now.
- Ways to stimulate your soul
- Being good to others enriches your life
- Other ideas for enriching your life
- Rounding 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. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
Ways to stimulate your soul
There are many studies on wellbeing and what affects it. These can be all manner of things, and some may be more obvious than others. We recognize that more fresh air, travel, scenery and sun can bring joy – hence holidays.
Go on multiple smaller holidays to enrich your life
This study showed that pre and post-holiday happiness is the same regardless of the length of the trip. It would therefore be more beneficial for wellbeing to have multiple, smaller trips spread over time rather than one substantial one, with then a large gap before the next. It’s postulated that this may be due to social comparison, or due to a Homo sapien need to wander and travel.
Both make sense, but I for one am sure that new experiences and surroundings have a positive effect on my mentality. Changing things up can bring us out of stagnation (which otherwise breeds rumination), stimulating and revitalizing the mind with renewed awareness.
When you are too used to the same surroundings and routines, less awareness and presence is necessary. We can switch off and let our thoughts run in circles, because we don’t need to be as alert.
Speaking of stimulation, this Harvard study also showed that positive social relationships have a rich positive influence on mental health.
Friends, family, spouses and other social groups that we value bring us joy, so maintaining and cultivating them is important.
Dr. Waldinger states:
“Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation, which are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster.”
Do what makes you happy to enrich your life
The same study claims that the other main contributor to happiness across the entire group was focusing on what they enjoyed and valued, and less on what they didn’t. Picking up hobbies and active engagement with interests reminds us of what makes life worth living.
As both social activity and personal interests have been shown as core components when enriching our lives, why not hit two birds with one stone? Both of these factors could be combined by periodically engaging with:
- Group sports or activities, such as rowing, bowling, rugby, climbing, martial arts
- Intellectual or creative classes, like art, writing, photography, pottery, languages
- Other group interests, such as chess clubs, group therapies, choirs, communal religious worship and activity
It’s worth taking some time to think about all the things that interest or are important to you and ways to incorporate more of them into your life – perhaps with other people who share those same interests and values!
Once we’re reminded of our possible interests and outlets they may start to feel obvious. It’s easy to forget things that we need but thankfully easy to remember as well. It can be fun to get back to exploring the different dimensions of what we value and enjoy, to better niche down into what we want and can do.
With all this said, something that we don’t think about as readily when it comes to improving our lives, is improving the lives of others.
Being good to others enriches your life
Altruism is related to happiness and has a strong correlation with ‘the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate, so long as they are not overwhelmed by helping tasks.’
A fantastic way to enrich our lives is to enrich that of others.
It is in our nature to support each other for the betterment of our collective humanity. It’s a way to humble and ground ourselves, forgetting and not obsessing upon ourselves for a while.
Not only that, altruism also makes us feel that we’ve made an observable, positive impact in the world. We feel valued and useful, thereby boosting self-esteem as well as happiness.
Doing things for others doesn’t have to mean uprooting our entire lives to build schools in developing countries, however. Small acts of kindness and compassion are enough to lift our moods by feeling helpful and valued. Simply asking how others are, lending a helping hand or volunteering on small local projects can be enough.
Other ideas for enriching your life
There are a couple of other ways to enrich your life. Here are some that I’ve experienced in my search.
Playing to your strengths
Whether it’s work, exercise, mindfulness, self-improvement or social activity, it’s good to make these things work for you – to incorporate your ideals, values, interests and skills.
In order to get the most out of anything, we need it to work for us. Otherwise, it can become more of a chore or a challenge than a pathway to enrichment.
Time for ourselves
Whether that’s participating in hobbies and interests as discussed, or just taking ourselves out to catch a film or having long baths. It’s important to take more time for ourselves more regularly, doing whatever it is that we do to simply recharge our batteries and soothe our souls.
The further we journey into adulthood, the more we seem to let go of fun. Play is doing something, anything fun, without a need for meaning or reason. It’s playing with lego or on the monkey bars, not to hone our problem solving or athleticism (though these things are actually improved by doing so), not for a prize, but just to enjoy it and feel revitalized.
In Dr. Stuart Brown’s book ‘Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul’, the importance and positive impact of play is explained. Through neuroscience, social science, psychology and other perspectives, it is demonstrable why play is natural and good for us.
Get a pet that will enrich your life
An animal companion can be a great way to enrich our lives, for anyone but particularly if we struggle with the social, altruistic or even exercise concepts raised earlier.
Not only do pets help owners feel relaxed, joyful and even secure in of themselves, they also require care (altruism), exercise facilitated by us (if the pet is a dog, for example), and even encourage social interaction. Not to mention play, the benefits of which touched upon in the previous paragraph.
In gratitude, we practice drawing attention to the positive things in our lives. This can be anything from a raise to a sunset. The more consciously we recognize and value these things, the less we take them for granted and the more we can balance out and ground otherwise negative headspace.
As we have seen, there are many ways to improve and enrich our lives. It’s good to strike a balance between the different areas, as well-rounded fulfilment cannot be found by any one thing. It’s also important to tackle each area – social activity, exercise, down time, altruism and so on – in a way that suits us best.
To recap on the life-enriching strategies outlined here, these are some areas you might explore in order to enrich your life:
- Positive social activity
- Engagement in interests and values
- Playing to your strengths
- Allowing and making time for yourself
It’s always worth finding and labelling your own versions of what’s important in life, as well as taking inspiration from others. When we map out what’s important in all areas, we can see what we ourselves might be neglecting and is in need of attention. We may see things we had assumed we were fulfilling but turns out not to be fulfilling us in the way that it ought to. That perhaps it was good in theory but not to our tastes, or strengths. We all deserve to flesh out our lives and live to the fullest, so we deserve to take those first steps and figure out what that means for us. I hope this article could be helpful to that end!