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It’s been over 3 months since the last blog post around here. So, you might be wonder what’s been going on in my little corner of the world.
Turns out, a lot.
Long story short, basically I hit rock bottom, had to learn what really matters in life, and slowly, ever so slowly, I’ve been putting the pieces back together.
I’ll share more on the journey, but basically, my wonderful husband Tom forced me to go to the ER which ended up saving my life. I quickly found myself in emergency surgery, and my entire life turned upside down.
My life felt like a purse that had turned over and everything dumped out. With all the contents of my life strewn about for me to examine, I found myself looking at what did and did not matter – what to keep and what to let go. While I wouldn’t wish my circumstances on anyone, I realized that I had been given an opportunity to choose what things I wanted to put back into my life, and what I didn’t. For the first time I took a close and surprising look all the utter rubbish that was filling up my life. And I discovered that my “purse” was so full that I didn’t have room for the things that really matter.
We all know what is supposed to matter in life, loved ones, health, happiness. But, we so easily allow ourselves to get sidetracked. Until this experience I knew that those were the things that mattered but I didn’t live my life like they were. I didn’t lead my life in a way that was aligned with that knowledge, and as a result, I felt continually empty and kept looking for ways to fill that void, not realizing it was from not living my life in alignment.
I hope that you don’t go through a life-threatening experience that causes you to take a hard look at your life but, I do hope that you take the time to take that look. And I mean a hard, uncomfortable look. Because it’s those hard, uncomfortable looks will help you make the choice to create a life worth living. One that is full of meaning, love, happiness, and passion.
Life is too short and too precious to lead a life you don’t love.
Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones
Life is too short, and too precious to not spend it with the people you love. The prospect of losing my life at 32 made me want to soak up every possible moment with my loved ones. Since then, I cannot get enough quality time with them.
Before my grandmother passed away several years ago, I had lunch with her every day. Then right after lunch, I would go escape for some alone time. Now, looking back, my biggest regret was not spending that extra time with her. I didn’t always know what to say to her. I sometimes felt annoyed by her questions (don’t you just want to shake your younger self sometimes?) and I just wanted to escape my stressful day with some time alone. Now that I don’t have the option to just sit and chat with her, it fills me with such sadness that I didn’t take advantage of the time I had with her before she passed. I took her for granted. I thought there was always tomorrow. I told myself that I wouldn’t be so stressed tomorrow, I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow, I’ll spend more time then. And, then she passed away. I was out of tomorrows. Even then, even when I knew that I had made that mistake, I didn’t make any real changes. Because when you’re making a life worth living you have to change, and change is hard.
Going through a near death experience myself, I was able to finally make it click. I beg you, don’t go through a near death experience before learning this lesson yourself. It’s easy to let things go on as they are. It takes effort to change. It can be uncomfortable. In the era of texts and social media, it can be uncomfortable to pick up the phone. Do it anyway. Get comfortable in awkward silences. Be present in the moment. Ask questions, tell stories, do fun activities together, anything at all. When you look back on your life when you’re old and gray, what will have mattered? Spending quality time with the ones you love. That’s basically it. If you want to stop reading here, then that’s really all you need to make a life worth living. Anything else is a cherry on top.
Life is too short and precious to harbor negativity and regret. If you have a family member or loved one that you have a strained relationship with, who you wish was back in your life, don’t wait. You do not want to wind up in a situation where you find yourself on death’s door, wishing you had made amends when it’s too late.
An important note, you cannot control other people. If the other party isn’t ready, then that is on them, but you do your part. Even if you’re hurt, if this is meaningful to you, then do your part. We can’t expect change if we ourselves aren’t willing to make change. We can’t control others, but we can control ourselves. Don’t wait on the other person to make the first move. Chances are, they are waiting on you to make the first move. Make those amends now, while you have time.
Fuel Your Passion
Life is too short and too precious to live a life that is not filled with passion! What makes you happy? Do more of that! Sit and think about it, what truly makes you happy, and why does that make you happy? How do you get more of that in your life?
When you sit and think about that, I bet what truly makes you happy is things like being with family and friends, working on being healthy, giving to others, and your hobbies. Those are the big things in your life that you should focus on. All too often, those are the things that get pushed aside for “when we have more time”. We take loved ones for granted, and we push off hobbies for work and other pursuits that don’t fill up our souls. We trade time being active for time on the couch. Make time for what makes you come alive as a person. It’s a priority from now on.
And priorities get scheduled. You would never not put an appointment with the doctor on the calendar. Nor would you just wing and show up at their office when you found some spare time expecting to be seen. It’s a priority and priorities get scheduled. Your passions should be scheduled into your life to make sure that you show up for them. Put them on the calendar first. And, then you can confidently say no to that meeting you didn’t want to volunteer for anyway, because your calendar is already full.
Life is too short and too precious to spend it stressed out all the time. This one can be hard. Often the things that cause stress are things like our jobs. I personally grappled with this for years. My job was making me so stressed and so unhappy that I would cry daily and often tell my husband I hated my life. I thought that was normal. After going through a near death experience, I can confidently tell you, that isn’t normal and is 1,000% not worth it.
Financial stability is important, but it needs to be balanced with your mental stability. I am making big, scary life changing in this area because I realized that I could not continue forward leading a happy, meaningful life when so much of my life was making me unhappy. If this is you, I implore you to really examine what is causing you the most stress in life, and making changes that will ease that stress.
Maybe it’s your long commute and looking for a job closer to your home, or a home closer to your work would make all the difference in the world. Maybe it’s your boss, and finding a new position in the same field would fill you with joy once again. Maybe it’s your field, and you need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how you move forward doing something new. Whatever it is, do it! Would you rather do some hard work now, and five years from now be living a life you love, or, would you rather not ask these hard questions, and be in the same situation five years from now?
All of that is assuming that stress stems from work, and that’s probably because for myself and a lot of us, that’s what causes the most stress in our lives. But, it’s equally important to examine your stress if it’s something else. Is it your relationship? Are there changes you can make that would alleviate that stress? Therapy? Divorce? Self-care? Do you love everything you do, but you’re spread too thin and that causes stress? That might be the hardest problem of all. You only have so much time, and in order for you to comfortably say yes to one thing, you need to say no to something else. I would start by writing down everything you are doing on strips of paper, and lay them all out. Decide how many things you comfortably have time for, and start picking your favorites. If you only have time for 5 things in your life, you stop after you have picked up 5 strips. Everything else, you let go. You have the things that bring you the most joy, and to do those joyously, you have to say no to the rest.
Life is too short and too precious to be limited by your health, when you can control it. Getting healthy is the best thing I ever did for myself. Note that getting healthy is just as much mental as it is physical. A big step in making a life worth living is healing yourself so you are the best version of yourself physically and mentally. That will allow you to do all the things in life you want to and not be held back by any physical or mental roadblocks.
Getting physically healthy is about treating your body right. Nourishing it with healthy foods that fuel you and make you feel good. Being active in ways that make you smile and make your spirit come alive. And, most importantly, finding happiness in moving your body. It doesn’t need to feel like torture. If you hate running, then don’t run. Life is too short! Do I sound like a broken record yet? Instead, find what you do love! Think back when you were a kid and you had so much fun being active, racing around the playground, playing tag, or splashing in the pool. There are so many ways to “play” as an adult. What would be fun for you? Dancing? Swimming? Walking? Biking? Hiking? Horseback riding? Snowshoeing? Skiing? Tennis? Life is supposed to be fun. So have some fun with it!
Getting mentally healthy is about paying attention to your mental and emotional health. Sometimes it looks like self-care, bubble baths, massages, and nights out with loved ones or friends. Sometimes it looks like therapy. Personally, I find myself getting mentally healthy through meditation. I downloaded this meditation app and every morning, first thing, I have a morning routine that I’ll share in depth, and part of that routine is meditation. Journaling is another idea. As well as what we discussed earlier, finding your passions and fueling them.
Life is too short and too precious to waste any time being someone you are not. If you are worried that people won’t like the real you, don’t. Anyone who doesn’t like the real you isn’t worth your time, even if it hurts. If you are truly aligned with yourself, you will be too busy being happy to worry about people who don’t like you. You may be a real peach, but there are people who, (gasp!) don’t like peaches. And, that is okay.
Regardless, I bet you find that most people love the real you. When we are genuine with who we are we in turn attract people who like us and we like them. Ask yourself, how can you have meaningful relationships if you put a mask on? It isn’t fair to yourself to walk around in a mask. And, it’s not fair to your loved ones to not allow them a chance to get to know the real you.
For much of my life I was so worried about what other people thought of me. But over time I have found that my quirks, flaws, and tacky taste in music is all part of my charm. You don’t need to nicely fit in a box. People are so much more interesting when they have depth and character. Show people yours and allow deep relationships to form that aren’t all surface level. To truly be happy and to truly make a life worth living, you need to be true to yourself and have people in your life that you can unapologetically be yourself around.
Time is Better Than Money
Life is too short and too precious to chase things that don’t matter, like money and the stuff we buy with it. When you look back on your life, what is going to be more important to you – how much money you have in the bank, oh that you won’t even get to use, or the time you spent with loved ones and on projects that set your heart on fire? Will you be fulfilled by your gadgets and toys, or by love and companionship? Clearly, it’s the latter. We all know it’s the latter. But for some inexplicable reason, so many of us, myself included, spend years chasing money and stuff instead of chasing the things that actually matter and actually make us happy.
You might find immense joy in work. Well, that is wonderful! Lucky you! Sincerely! It is truly a joy to find work that fuels your passion, and get paid to do it. That is something that all of us should strive for. And that really is what this is all about. Finding what moves us forward and then focusing on those things. But, also, don’t lose sight of the things around us that mean even more.
Your family and loved ones mean more than any job. Even if you absolutely love your career, don’t work so much that you trade the people in your life for it. Don’t lose your family for late nights at the office. Your career isn’t going to brush your hair when you are in the hospital. Your job isn’t going to hold your hand when you’re told you need surgery or you’re going to die. Setting aside intentional time for the ones you love will enrich your life a hundredfold. They are the ones who life is worth living for.
Life is too short and too precious to not recognize your blessings. If you want to change your life and make a life worth living, one of the simplest ways to do that is to focus on all the good you already have! Our brains are hardwired to be negative. When we were hunter gatherers, this helped us survive. But, now, it can be a real hindrance in our happiness. We might think, “Yeah, yeah I’m grateful for a roof over my head and the food I eat, okay?” But, like so many of these ideas we are discussing, logically knowing vs truly believing and feeling in our souls are two different things.
Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to deeply examine the things we have that we are truly grateful for and to feel that gratitude in our soul. You may choose to journal your gratitude daily, use an app which can help with prompts, or just take a moment every day to think to yourself about what you’re grateful for. I’ve been using this gratitude app every day to jot down what I’m grateful for. Over time, practicing gratitude can actually change our brain, and making us happier and create a life worth living.
Finding meaning in life can feel vast and overwhelming. It can sometimes feel like it’s all too big to figure out. But, by changing a few small things, we can add meaning to our lives and enrich them. Living a life where we are in alignment with our true selves and are empowering ourselves to truly be happy can be the greatest gift we give ourselves.
How else would you suggest making a life worth living?