We all get so caught up in the culture of being busy–whether we’re busy with school, with work, with family life, with hobbies, with distractions, with exercise, with friends; it seems that many of us wake up each morning and continue through the jam-packed routine of every day, only to rest or take time for ourselves when our bodies and our minds can no longer fight off sleep. Many of us lead the same life each and every day, running from one obligation to the next without much variety, without much excitement, and without an overwhelming amount of joy. Many of us eat our meals on the go, without sitting down, without another person, or without cooking; many do not have a hobby or a leisure activity in adulthood outside of social media, technology, or alcohol; many do not interact with friends or family outside of social media or technology; many cannot find the time to exercise, while others punish their bodies with forms of fitness they do not enjoy; many do not view sleep as a necessity for good health and instead view it as an unavoidable disruption to productivity; many do not use vacation time nor get out of their town very often; many put their work life before their personal life; many put others before themselves. Simply, many around us are not taking the time for the things that matter most: ourselves, our health, our happiness, and our sense of satisfaction. We spend far too much of our lives punishing ourselves for our yesterdays and trying to make for better tomorrows; we forget about today. We are not spending enough of our lives living them. Who is to say at what point you’ve actually ‘made it’ and can then start living? When is it enough? Is it ever enough? If your life was to come to an end tomorrow, would you be able to look back without regret? Would you have made time for all the things that you’re passionate about? Would you have lived your life as yourself? Would you have made enough time for the people you love? Would you have made time for you?
Happiness is the result from living presently, living healthily, following your passions, and surrounding yourself with people who love, support, and challenge you. As the summer comes into full swing, take a look at how you’re spending your days, and see if there are changes you can make to live the good life. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens by putting forth the intention and effort to make change. Start with one thing, and then take your first step; you’ll get to where you want by realizing that life is a journey, so take your time, enjoy the sights, and quit racing to an imaginary finish line.
Worrying about your tomorrows or crying over your yesterdays? Try to bring yourself back to the present and try to find some good; actively replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and when you start worrying about the past or the future, try to find something to be grateful for in the present. The longer this mental practice goes on, the more it becomes second nature and life begins to be lived with positivity and presence. Unhappy with your body? Take the time to try and eat more home-cooked, produce-filled, nutrient-dense meals–with the Internet, healthy, easy, and delicious recipes can be found everywhere, you just have to look. Take the time to find some sort of physical activity that you enjoy–walk for an hour on a nice day, take advantage of free-trial gym memberships, find work out videos online, find a workout buddy, go dance your ass off for an hour; whatever it is, get your body moving and your blood pumping. Feeling burnt out or in a funk? Take a day off or give yourself a day to yourself to enjoy the solitude and get right in your head; it’s okay, and in fact normal, to not feel bright, bubbly, and happy every single day, and it’s also okay and normal to need to attend to your many, natural human emotions. Getting less than six hours of sleep each night? That shit needs to stop. Let your body and your mind get the rest they need, and start hitting the sheets earlier; your social media, TV, emails, Tinder, and worrying can wait for the morning. Make and take time for your health, and quit neglecting your sleep like it isn’t an important part of it. Have a book that’s been sitting on the shelf waiting to be read for years? Why not replace an hour of watching TV or Internet usage with an hour of opening the cover and getting to it? Go to the same bar with the same people every weekend or spend every weekend indoors? Why not get out and do something new, go somewhere new, or meet someone new? Like to dance? Dance. Like to sing? Sing. Like to paint? Paint. Like to write? Write. Whatever it is you like doing, make the time for it. Hate your job? Take the time to think about what interests you and what you’re passionate about, then start heading in that direction one foot in front of the other–write lists, do research, conduct job searches, put together your resume, etc. Your time is too precious to spend 40+ hours a week doing something you vehemently detest; no one is going to miraculously show up and present you with your dream job, you have to go get it. Itching with wanderlust? Do your research and figure out how to make it happen on a dime; do charitable work abroad, stay in hostels, teach English, see how other people did it. Make a point to put a little away each week and before your know it, you’ll have enough to go; if you don’t start saving for a trip, how will you ever afford to go on one? Been driving yourself crazy by racking your brain over a conversation you’d love to have, holding a grudge, or have something you’re dying to say to someone? Bite the bullet, pull up your big boy or girl pants, and have the hard conversations. By keeping it all bottled up in your head, the only person you’re hurting is you; give yourself the time to resolve issues, speak up for yourself, and enjoy a peace of mind. In a romantic relationship that’s keeping you from growing, keeping you complacent, keeping you from being happy, keeping you from your passions, or keeping you from your friends or family? End it. Quit being romantically involved with someone because it’s convenient, or comfortable, or because you think you’ve been together too long to walk away. Stop staying for the fear of being alone; it’s a waste of both of your time. Have friends that bring you down, that you can’t trust, or who you’ve just grown apart from? Form new friendships, and start to leave the toxic ones behind; surround yourself with people who help you grow, who support you, who are happy with your successes, who listen, who make you laugh, who have your back, and who bring out the real you; people grow apart, and it’s okay to leave behind the relationships that are no good for you. Spending your conversations complaining, gossiping, or talking about material desires? Or rather, when was the last time you had a deep, meaningful conversation with someone? Why not talk about ideas? Why not get to know someone? Why not talk about the positive? Why not take the time?
Happiness and satisfaction in life do not come from crossing a financial or material finish line; they come from being present, having good health, feeling gratitude for what and who you have in your life, from considering yourself and from being yourself. Take the time to appreciate the beauty of nature, to savor the little moments, to be you, and to live. The good life happens to those who take the time to live it. Are you taking the time?