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How to Appreciate Life and Not Just Exist in It

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Do you sometimes stare off into space and wonder “Why am I here?” “What am I doing?” or “There has to be more to life than just this.” We get caught in the everyday routine of sleep, work, home, sleep, work, home, and…you get the point. 

Since when do we become conditioned to settle for this way of life? Was it from our parents and their parents before them? Or is it from our environment that we have to accommodate in order to comply with the rules in place? I believe this way of life is called ‘existing.’ When we go through the motions of everyday life and fall into the routine, we don’t realize that there is another way of life, which is called ‘living.’

Few people understand the difference and very few people make the leap from existing to living. We don’t realize that there’s another way until we choose to recognize that there is. Usually, it’s shown to us by a mentor, teacher, elder, or a friend. When you choose to ‘live’ rather than ‘exist,’ you start to view your life on earth in a completely different perspective. It’s as if your mind opened and you are seeing your life with a new pair of glasses, never wanting to take them off.

I understood the power of ‘living’ when I saw a mentor in a webinar. The things discussed made sense to me and I wanted to learn more. This mentor was talking about creating experiences to enjoy life, surrounding yourself with rich and loving relationships, and being purposeful and intentional in everyday actions. I wondered “How do you start to live life that way? I want to do that.” I got to work and read anything I could about how to live life, not just exist in it. 

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

I came across three helpful tips that I use today to guide me in living life. Below, you can read about them:

1. Become mindful and present in every situation

This is a skill that is continuously worked on all the time! What does that exactly entail? It involves becoming aware of your own thoughts and what you say to yourself. We generate thousands of thoughts everyday and it’s impossible to be mindful of each and every one. You can be mindful over most of them though. Becoming mindful requires mental discipline and focus. It’s just like a muscle, it gets stronger with more practice.

Being present is also a challenge that requires mental discipline and focus. It’s being able to appreciate and acknowledge your surroundings, whether it’s eating a meal or sitting at a park or even being stuck in gridlock traffic. 

Reminding yourself to be present in the moment brings to light the ‘living’ part of life. It’s the fall colors in the tree you saw in the park or it’s relishing each bite of your meal and the delicious flavors you’re tasting. It’s paying attention to the here and now.

2. Create experiences

I feel that a majority of people don’t take advantage of creating experiences in their lives. Sure, you take the annual family vacation 2 weeks out of the year but what about the other 50 weeks? What kinds of experiences do you create in the remaining 50? 

Recently, I was listening to a mentor of mine and he shared that given a pool of money, it is best to use the money into creating experiences and adventures than to use it towards objects. The rationale behind this is because with objects, we create momentary happiness with that object. Happiness doesn’t last long. 

When we use money towards creating experiences and adventures, we are left with the memories and the physical response to that adventure or experience. You can relive it again and again. It will continue to provide happiness. When was the last time you created an experience? Was it camping in the back yard with your kids? Or taking a cooking class with your friend? Or how about that weekend getaway with your partner and did everything spontaneously? Inject experiences into your life so that you can ‘live’ and see what’s out there. Create memories!

“The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” – Louis E. Boone

3. Do more of what makes you happy

I’ll be honest. This is a really tough question for a lot of people to answer. “What makes you happy?” It’s as if there’s some unwritten rule or law about being happy. Like it’s forbidden or something. 

It seems that once you become an adult, you’re not supposed to be happy or happiness is only meant for children. Or worse yet, happiness is temporary. Yes, there are times where we are facing unfortunate circumstances such as a divorce or perhaps you have just been given bad news regarding your health. There can be some bad things in the world. I don’t deny that. But the choice is how you want to feel regarding these circumstances. Even if you are in a horrible situation, there is absolutely something that can brighten your mood, even for a moment. Whether it’s reading a book or going for a walk or even talking to a friend. 

When we become conscious and choose to do more things that bring us joy and happiness, we start to look at life a bit better. When we realize and notice what makes us happy, it’s up to us to make the intentional purpose of doing it often so that we can enjoy being happy. Regardless of if you’re 8 or 80, make sure to allow yourself to feel the emotion of joy and happiness.

I frequently utilize these three tips in my life, and it’s helped me see life in a new way. I’m more mindful of the people I’m interacting with, appreciate and express gratitude in everything I experience, and spoil myself with happiness because there’s nothing wrong with that. Isn’t it time you start ‘living’ and not ‘existing?’

What makes you the happiest in life? Share your thoughts and stories with us below!

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