As a professional working in the industry of health, fitness and wellness, I am constantly in contact with people who are in search of ways to live better, feel better and simply enjoy life more fully. For many years, I too was interested in learning the “secrets” to living well. In the end, it became clear that living well isn’t doing more things, knowing more people or enjoying what you do, it is a combination of all kinds of positive things that added together create this idea that a person is living well. I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve found must be present in order to live well. The cool thing about all of these is that they are completely within our control. Check them out!
1. Personal Honesty – we simply cannot be happy and live well when we are living to impress others. At some point we have to take time to decide who we are, what we want out of life and what we are willing to do to create the lifestyle we desire. You will never, EVER find a restful place within your mind and within your life when you are worrying about how others perceive you. When your day is consumed with the kind of car you drive, the number of interesting photos you can post on Facebook or how fun and exciting you can pretend your life is so that others will pay attention to you, you’ll never achieve the quality of life and peace of mind required to live well. Believe me! I’ve struggled with this myself. This type of “must impress others” mentality is attention seeking and shines a light on the fact that we are dissatisfied with our life and need constant reinforcement that we are worthy of other people’s attention. Hey! Don’t worry! Like I said, I’m not pointing the finger here, I’m as guilty as anyone of all the things listed above. The key is to make yourself aware of when you begin to act in this way and do whatever it takes to knock yourself out of that mode.
Helpful Tip: Volunteer – helping people in need is a great way to put life into perspective and to appreciate who and what you are more. By volunteering to help others, we can see just how blessed we really are and for a time, our need to impress others is overridden by our understanding that we really do have it pretty good.
2. Go Somewhere New to You – you will never be happy with yourself and break the cycle of wanting those around you to approve of all you are if you stay in the same place all of the time. By traveling (even just for a weekend here and there), you will learn that there are people out there who could care less about the things that those in your usual day-to-day life care about. The car you drive? No one outside of you and your friends cares. The job you work? No one outside of your comfort zone cares in the least. Where you live and how amazing it is to live there? No one cares where you live because it really isn’t that amazing and there are thousands of cooler, more interesting, fun, beautiful, exciting and amazing places on the map than the places you and I are from. I’m not saying you shouldn’t value the place you’re from and the people in your life, but at some point you have to realize that not everything in your life is that big of a deal. The fact of the matter is, most people simply do not think about you or I that much in a given day. Once I began to travel, I realized that the day-to-day BS that mattered so much to me before was really so insignificant that I was able to completely let it go from my conscious and it no longer holds me captive.
Helpful Tip: CouchSurf – you may not want to do what I do and that is find people on couchsurfing.org and go places to hang out with them, but you can couch surf in places with relatives, friends you haven’t seen in too long or friends of friends who live somewhere you’ve been wanting to go. You have to break the cycle of being with the same people who expect the same things out of life – that is what makes us dissatisfied. Take time to travel, be free and let your mind and spirit lead you to the people, places and things you truly enjoy.
3. Identify Imposters – we all, at some time or another, take on a persona that isn’t necessarily genuine and authentic. However, you and I are surrounded by people who have never learned to be themselves so they are constantly surrounded by people, like themselves, who have to be part of a group in order to feel comfortable. To me, ridding our lives of these people is the largest obstacle to truly being happy and living well. I see it all the time. For example: here in Tulsa there is a vibrant art and philanthropic community. Wherever I’ve lived, this community is similar in most areas so it’s easy to use as an example. I think the arts and philanthropy here in Tulsa are amazing and I love so many things about this aspect of my city, but everywhere you turn are people just waiting to latch onto the next trendy thing that will allow them to end up in a local magazine, tagged on some society’s Facebook page or listed among those in attendance to support some charity. They’re fake and extremely dissatisfied with themselves and they need constant recognition to feel self-worth. Don’t be like these people and don’t associate with them any more than you have to. You will never feel that sense of freedom to be who and what you are when you surround yourself with people like these. Having been surrounded by so many people like this in my many years living in various areas of the country, I can spot them immediately. You will never be happy living this type of lifestyle. No matter who you are you can’t possibly give enough, attend enough banquets or charity events or be on the board of enough community organizations to satisfy the unending need of this group to one-up each other by wearing a faux who cares more about the community mask. In the end, you’ll grow tired of the entire spectacle and unfortunately may lose sight of the really good things that could be done if our minds were on the causes at hand instead of who is supporting them.
Helpful Tip: Shine the Light – if you want to identify who these people are, ask yourself this: If there were no cameras, no newspaper coverage, no Facebook posts to be tagged in and no publicity whatsoever, would this person still be here supporting this cause/art form/organization? I guarantee the “yes” list is small, but those people you answered “yes” for are the quality individuals you want to associate with and they’ll appreciate you regardless of where you’re from, what you wear and how much money you contribute – they’ll appreciate you and your genuine support. The rest of those people gotta go for you to live well, live happy and feel free of the unnecessary pressures of keeping up with social vampires.
4. Practice Expressing Yourself – music, dancing, drawing, working out, writing, give your time to worthy causes and spending time with those you love. All of these are ways we can express ourselves. Expression is a way to rejuvenate your mind and spirit – it’s like filling your tank with peace of mind and positive vibes. I personally love live music. Just about any format or genre that I can find, I like to watch perform. While the majority of my musical interests are in country music and rock n roll, I enjoy just about type of live musical performance. Finding ways to express yourself allows you to send out good feelings into the world and share them with others around you. When you feel good, you’re happy and when you’re happy, your mood rubs off on others. What can be better than that?
Helpful Tip: Just go – so often we deprive ourselves of a means of expression because we prioritize everything else. Like I mentioned above, we’ll spend days making sure everything is perfect to impress some people we don’t even like but we will pass on the opportunity to enjoy a concert with those we love. Just let go of the things in your mind that tell you that it costs too much, it takes too much time or you just can’t fit it into your schedule and go enjoy the thing or things that give you expression. Do this regularly and you’ll find yourself living well and feeling satisfied.
5. Eat Quality Foods – your body is comprised of many parts and many inter-working systems, all trying to keep you living in the most efficient manner possible. The foods you eat are what your body uses to replenish these things and the quality of the foods you eat matters more than just about anything else when it comes to your health. A healthy body is a body that is prepared to live well. Keep in mind that sometimes, the “cleanest” most low-calorie foods are not necessarily the best. Sometimes, the company you keep and the experiences you are having override your need to be so dogmatic about food. Enjoy yourself and those your are with and while you always want to nourish and care for your body, do not allow food to come between you and amazing experiences.
Helpful Tip: Eat quality foods often to avoid hunger cravings that will cause you to pull into that drive thru. Workout! Try to get at least 3 workouts in each week. This will help your body relieve stress that causes us to want junk food and it’ll motivate you to eat better because you are spending time caring for your body and you will naturally want to feel good about the food choices you make each day. Drink a lot of water all day long and get plenty of rest – these things will help support your goal of eating quality foods and will maximize the healthful benefits you get from eating well.
6. Find Your Muse – you simply must have something that you enjoy doing. For me, its this blog. I love the idea of sharing information with people like you. This blog allows me to learn things I didn’t know before and to work on projects that interest me. This is my form of expression and is also my way of interacting with people outside of my immediate location. By finding a muse (or passion project), you’ll find that many of the things I’ve listed above begin to fall into place. Because you have things going on in your daily life, you’ll be excited to work on your muse and won’t have time to focus on the crap that the people around you are focusing on. Everyone in my immediate surroundings are focused on the weather and I’m focused on blogging with you and traveling to Europe next week. This is a great example of how your muse can pull you out of the day-to-day BS that surrounds you and can set you on a path to living free and living well.
Helpful Tip: Do not allow your muse to become stressful to you. This blog is how I express myself, but the moment I get tired of writing, I’ll take a break. So many times we let our passions become our job and then we lose the zest we once had for it. Keep your muse in its place and allow it to take you in great directions. Sometimes your muse will begin to make money for you. That’s fine, in fact, that’s awesome! But don’t allow your muse to overcome your passion for it and begin to be a weight around your neck. Keep the passion for your muse by keeping it in its place.
Here’s to you my friends!
Here’s to living well each and every day!
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