One of the tenets that I hold in life is that every day you have the possibility to alter your life completely. The other side of this, however, is that you can also make poor choices every day. The continuity of day-to-day life can easily change your perspective and leave you blind to the effects that these choices can have in a broader time spectrum (like a year or two). Not surprisingly, this (and a lot of other factors and global influences) is the reason why many people are not feeling especially content with their lives. This feeling is prevalent in youth, who oftentimes feel that their youthful spirit is constrained in their daily life.
Your emotions are your body’s way of signalling whether things are going well or not. And if you’ve have recently felt some of the things that I will mention below, perhaps you should think about changing your life. Ultimately, only you have the power to turn things around.
Feeling like nothing ever changes and the prevalence of the day-to-day routine
When your friends ask you what’s new, what is your answer? Do you answer with “Oh, nothing much” every time? Have you stopped one day and looked behind you, only to see that you have seemingly made no progress whatsoever in the last two or three years? Doing the same things and hanging out with the same people every day can seriously diminish your ability to grow both emotionally and intellectually.
This feeling of being stuck in place is probably the first red flag that your life needs to change. Now, I’m not saying that going skydiving every other day or living a life full of fresh daily adventures is something that everyone needs to pursue. Little things can break the routine, too. Go to a new bar, meet new people, visit events near you, or get interested in a new hobby.
A simple change of environment will do wonders for you and, after a while, you will feel that you are growing on every level. For example, I volunteered for a hosting program at my university where I got to meet people from all over the world and find out about their cultures and show them mine. It made me realize that there are so many interests to pursue that my life will never be boring again.
Dissatisfaction with your career
A career is a difficult choice that we are all “forced” to make in our late teens and early 20s through our choice of majors at university. However, what feels appealing at that young and naïve age does not always come through for some people, especially once they see the real ins-and-outs of what they have chosen to do. Some career paths will require you to challenge your moral stances, others will be more conflicting with your personality, and some can leave you feeling overqualified or without any prospect of advancing.
In my line of work, some beginning writers can be frustrated by the moral qualms of ghostwriting. My recommendation was always that they should perhaps think about some other career if they feel they cannot write and have someone else take all the credit.
Think about whether the job you have is the job you like doing. That is the most important thing about any career. You have to enjoy it. And I don’t mean pretend to enjoy it, you really have to at least like it, if not love it. Remember, your career is supposed to be for life, so think about whether you’d like to do this forever. If the answer is negative, then I suggest pursuing something that is more in line with your personality and ethics, something that will not leave you feeling down all the time.
Jealousy of the people around you and their “perfect” lives
The biggest revelation that my life definitely needed to change was when I started feeling jealousy towards people that were around me. They all seemed to have better-paying jobs than me, to have more fun when we were out, to have their lives completely in order, and just to enjoy themselves more. And, while I would usually be happy for anyone who’s got “everything figured out” (although, no one really has, but that’s a topic for some other article), slowly I’ve begun feeling that they had more luck, that they had been dealt better cards. This slowly grew into jealousy which prevented me from seeing it in a positive perspective.
The moment I realized I was jealous of my best friends, I realized that I had to rein in my horses and find a way to stop this. Maybe it was my behavior that needed to change. They always strived to do their best in every situation, and I needed to learn from them and their dedication to create my own happiness. All of them got to where they were by putting in their best effort, so I decided I would do that, too. It seems to have worked so far. At least, I now feel happy for my friends and their “perfect” lives again, without a hint of jealousy.
Financial instability and unsustainability
Trying to fulfill your life with hedonistic pleasures and new things and experiences can often lead to spending money like there is no tomorrow. This lavish spending is not always sustainable in the long run, and sooner or later all those credits that you have taken out will come back to haunt you. It is inevitable. This is why it is much better to curtail your spending habits and start saving on little things than to accrue credit, which will leave you financially impaired at a later date.
Start by realizing which things in your life are luxuries that you can do without presently. This does not mean giving them up forever, just until you’ve progressed enough in your career and achieved a better salary level. Then start introducing them back one by one and see how strained your budget becomes. You can even look at some things you didn’t even know can save you money. This way, you will have to give up fewer luxuries.
Dissatisfaction with your life can affect not only your mental health, but your physical health as well, as one is heavily influenced by the other. It often leaves people without a will to do anything. What’s worse is that it can turn into a constant feeling of physical tiredness, as if one has no strength to get out of bed in the morning or to fully commit to anything during the day.
One of the best ways to break this is to (perhaps ironically) get physically active. I know it may sound hard when you are constantly tired, but activating your muscles will pump some adrenaline into your body and some endorphins into your brain, increasing your both your energy levels and your overall happiness. You don’t have to start going to the gym and pack a bunch of muscles. Regular morning exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and even proper stretching can revitalize your body and give you the energy to make it through the day better than any coffee.
Like I said before, ultimately it is up to you to make the decisions that will turn your life around. No one else can make them for you or force you to follow through with them. With a little willpower, anything is possible. Living your life in a day-to-day manner, just waiting for it to pass, is a sure way to waste it all. And the only one responsible for your life and your happiness is you — which is the biggest life lesson that we all have to learn.
Featured photo credit: Kate Williams via unsplash.com