1. Life chats that drag on until the wee hours of the morning.
When we were children, teenagers, even young adults, there was nothing that could keep us away from those deep post-midnight conversations that covered everything from our latest love interests to the nature of the Universe. But the more we grew up, the stricter we got with ourselves and the less of a priority those rambling conversations became.
We’ve gotten so good at putting ourselves to bed at a decent hour as adults that we’ve probably missed out on fostering some genuinely incredible bonds – the kind that only happen when your mind is hazy and your guard is entirely down. The kind that we should always be willing to make time for.
2. Spending lazy days in bed with the people we love.
It can be difficult to justify an entire day of doing what society labels as ‘nothing.’ But it’s also difficult to get through life without pause for relaxation and affection and love – in whatever form it’s available to us. Maybe this means cuddling in bed with our partners, maybe it means lazing around with close friends, or maybe it just means spending a peaceful day in our own company. But it’s a day that we all need from time to time. It’s a day we are allowed to make time for.
3. Reading books that challenge our way of thinking.
It’s easy to remain comfortable inside of our own limited worldview. What’s challenging is welcoming in someone else’s and giving it the genuine chance to expand our own. Deciding that we don’t have the time to read means deciding that we don’t have the time to allow ourselves to grow intellectually – and that’s a dangerous decision to make.
4. Taking concrete care of our bodies and minds.
Self-care is often one of the first things we throw out the window when the going gets tough – which is ironic, because it’s also the prime thing that keeps us going throughout those tough times.
It isn’t always easy to force ourselves out of bed an hour early to get to the gym or to give ourselves time to properly unwind at the end of a long day. But it’s these small, daily rituals that contribute astronomically to our overall sense of happiness, health and wellbeing. A strong, healthy body (and mind) will always accomplish more than a stressed, overworked one.
5. Going out with the people who matter to us.
There will always be a good reason to turn down socializing – we’re tired, we’re introverted, it has been a long week, we’re broke. But at the end of the day, all we’re really doing is facilitating our own disconnection. Making time to go out for dinner or drinks or even a long, leisurely walk with the people we care about most means investing in a long-term relationship – one that gives back whatever we put into it.
6. Visiting our aging family members.
Life gets busy. Time passes too quickly. And it becomes all too easy to put off those visits until it’s too late. As frustrated as we may get with our great-aunt-so-and-so repeating the same story eighty-five times as though it’s the first, we will someday want the same patience and compassion that we could show her extended to us. And we’ll just hope we have someone who cares enough to make the time for us.
7. Supporting the people we love in times of crisis.
We don’t get to pick when shit hits the fan in life. We only get to pick how we handle it, and hope that someone has our back in the process. Taking the time to support our loved ones when things are falling apart for them is perhaps one of the most important tasks we’ll ever take on. There’s never a right time for things to go wrong, but having someone there for us in the process makes all of the difference in the world.
8. Understanding the opinions that directly oppose our own.
It’s never comfortable – or convenient – to entertain ways of thinking that directly contradict our own. But it’s also the only way we ever truly learn or grow beyond ourselves. Taking the time to truly understand an argument that opposes your way of thought is a lot more difficult than storming off in a huff – but it’s a lot more rewarding, too. And the worst it can do is give you a more well-rounded understanding of your own position.
9. Traveling to new places.
You don’t have to quit your job and travel the world. You don’t even have to take an exotic vacation that pushes the limits of your comfort zone. But every once in a while, getting out of your usual environment can be incredibly mentally refreshing. It reminds you that there’s a whole world that exists outside of your ‘bubble’ – and it puts your problems into perspective.
10. Giving other people the explanations they deserve.
It is always easier to blow someone off – or to make and endless stream of excuses – than it is to let them know that they are not a priority to us. But we owe people those explanations, uncomfortable as they may be. We owe it to ourselves and to them to be honest, because otherwise we’re just wasting everyone’s time. And we all deserve better than that.
11. Going out on a limb for what we want.
Here’s the thing about going out on limbs – they’re sometimes fruitless. And it sucks when they are. But at the same time, we become better climbers every time we inch ourselves out there. We become a little more confident, a little more daring and a little more skilled at going after what we want. Which means that by the time something we really, really want comes along, we’ll be ready to go after it with everything we’ve got. And that will always put us miles ahead of the pack.
12. Thanking the people who’ve supported us along the way.
No matter how independent we consider ourselves to be, none of us have ever achieved anything in a bubble. We need to make the time and effort to recognize those who’ve been there for us when we needed them most. After all, they made the time and effort for us.
13. Learning to deeply understand ourselves.
Until we truly understand what motivates, terrifies and infuriates us, we’ll be a mystery even to ourselves. There is an immense power that comes along with knowing oneself, but we can only truly harness it once we’re willing to look at ourselves in a wholly unglamorous light – and come out the other side humbled.
14. Staying connected to nature.
Our bodies were designed to thrive in nature. Deciding that we don’t have time to spend outdoors means deciding that we don’t have time to remain centered, balanced and clear-headed. Which makes it harder to get pretty much anything else in our lives done.
15. Maintaining order in our external environments.
We all have different definitions of what constitutes an orderly house or workspace but regardless of what those are, we owe it to ourselves to maintain a space that makes us feel at peace. That may mean doing a quick clean of our bedrooms every morning or even just keeping some greenery alive at the office – either way, it is important to recognize which kind of environment we need in order to thrive. And then to cultivate it for ourselves.
16. Meeting and investing in people who are radically different from ourselves.
It’s natural to meet and form connections with like-minded people. But it also limits our worldview immensely. When we take the time to invest in relationships with people who are vastly unlike us, we are opening ourselves up to learning in an unconstrained fashion. We are choosing discomfort over ignorance and that will always be a more honorable choice.
17. Focusing on self-improvement.
We place so much pressure on ourselves to achieve the right things and meet the right people that we sometimes forget that we also have to be the right people ourselves. It’s impossible to take care of anything in our external environment before we’ve taken care of own wellbeing – and doing so means constantly working toward a better version of ourselves.
18. Laughing – hard and genuinely.
The more seriously we take our lives, the more difficult it becomes to get pretty much anything done. Laughter is seen as a luxury but we should consider it a necessity – it clears the mind, minimizes pain and puts our struggles into perspective. Show me something that can’t be made light of and I’ll show you something that’ll be damn hard to survive.
19. Reflecting on the past and what it’s taught us.
One of the most fascinating tendencies we possess as humans is our ability to encounter, endure and rise above the most challenging of situations… and then promptly forget all about them.
When we don’t stop to reflect on the past and integrate the lessons we’ve learned from it, we only hold ourselves back from moving forward with clarity. As painful as it can be to process what’s gone wrong, doing so allows us the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done right. And those are lessons that we definitely want to internalize.
20. Focusing on the future and where we want to go with it.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget about the big picture altogether – and that’s exactly how we end up at our most lost.
No matter how chaotic our lives become, we should always be taking the time to stop and re-evaluate which direction we’re headed in. It’s no use driving full-speed ahead if we’re not headed somewhere worth going.
21. Catching up with the people who once mattered to us.
It’s impossible to stay consistently close with everyone who’s ever been a big part of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prioritize the odd Skype call or coffee date. The people who stood by us during our formative years will forever be a part of who we are – and neglecting to keep in touch with them means neglecting to keep in touch with an integral part of ourselves.
22. Engaging whichever passion makes us feel alive.
There will always be a good reason to neglect your art form of choice – bills need paying and chores need doing and life always seems to move too fast to allow for indulgence. But the problem with neglecting what we care about is that our lives slowly lose their meaning in the process.
We simply have to give ourselves permission to engage in whichever activities make us feel most alive in life. They’re the fuel that keeps us going – and we can’t run on empty forever.
23. Occasionally giving in to what we know truly matters the most.
We’re good at staying focused in life. We’re good at showing up to work, adhering to our responsibilities, biting our tongues when we need to and denying ourselves short-term indulgences for the sake of long-term gain. But every once in a while, we need to know when to say ‘screw it’ and break our own carefully-crafted rules.
When it comes down to it, we always know what’s most important to us in life. We always know what’s worth going after, what’s worth making a fool of ourselves over and what’s worth truly going out on that limb for. And those are the things that we always need to make the time to go for – no matter how crazy or impractical they seem. Because those are the very things that make life worth living.