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Published on April 14, 2020

How to Get a Life and Live to the Fullest

How to Get a Life and Live to the Fullest

I will never forget a moment I had with my daughter a few years ago. I was lying next to her as I put her to bed. As she held her stuffed animal close to her face and we talked about the day, she paused from our conversation for a moment and leaned in… “Mom,” she said thoughtfully. “You want to spend life the best way you can. Because you only have one life and you want to make it good.”

She was 7 at the time, wise beyond her years. And she was right. We have one life to live, and I believe we should all live a life we love — or at least really like.

When you look back at the end of your life, you want to be able to confidently say, “Yes! I am satisfied, content and feel like I lived my life to the fullest.”

Sure, you will likely be faced with setbacks, obstacles, stress, and frustrations along the way. Some days you’ll feel on top of the world, jumping out of bed in the morning; other days you’ll feel like the proverbial stuff has hit the fan, and you’ll just want to pull the covers back over your head.

Part of living life to the fullest extent is completely experiencing all that life has to offer. After all, we cannot fully appreciate joy unless we have felt pain. We cannot fully experience love until we have lost. Experiencing the full range of good and bad is what gives life meaning and purpose.

So whether you are in a period of thriving, or a time of just trying to survive, here is how to get a life and live it to the fullest.

1. Take Care of Yourself

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”. –Jim Rohn

If your body is falling apart, if you’re unhealthy and struggling with disease, you will never be able to live life fully. Taking care of yourself isn’t just about taking care of your body. It’s taking an integrative approach to your health and wellness.

This means taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So many of us focus on one area and forget the others.

Try this: Find ways to take care of yourself holistically. Start with the basics: stay hydrated, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, eat nourishing foods, spend time in nature, take deep breaths, and meditate.

Check out 30 more ways to take care of yourself here.

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2. Be True to Yourself

“To thine own self be true.” –Shakespeare

If you are going to live life to the fullest, you must first know what that means to you.

From a young age, there are many competing expectations, demands, and dreams coming from every direction: family members, friends, and your community. This leads many people to live a life that others want or expect of them, not the one they would choose for themselves.

Often, people are living a life that looks good to others from the outside, but inside they are unhappy, stressed, or feeling insecure or like a fraud.

Add to that the constant and relentless messages from social media, books, and resources that tell us how we should do things, what we are supposed to do, and how we are meant to succeed, and it can be easy to lose yourself.

Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who has worked with hundreds of patients in the last few weeks of their lives. When she talked to them about the most common regrets they had or things they would have done differently, the number one answer was this:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.[1]

Try this: Get to know yourself and what you need to thrive. Identify and honor the visions, dreams, and goals you have for your life. Make a commitment to dedicate time and energy to the things that are important to you.

3. Get a Job You Love (Or at Least Like)

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” –Confucius

Most people spend at least a third of their lives at work, and yet 85% of the world’s full-time workers hate their job. A whopping 85%! That’s a disheartening statistic. Are you bored, hate your job, or feeling unfulfilled and unhappy as you go to work each day? If so, it’s time to make a change.

There are likely realities about what job opportunities might be available where you live, how much money you need to make to support your family, and the skills required to land the job you really want. I also know and have worked with hundreds of individuals to confirm that there are always other options — even if you can’t see them right now.

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Try this: If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your role, actively seek out other options. If, for some reason, you truly can’t change jobs, find a way to make your job work for you. Ask for a raise, flexible work hours, or an increased level of responsibility or experience. Perhaps you can start a side hustle, go back to school, or do something to make progress towards what you really want to be doing.

4. Find Your Tribe

“Choose people who lift you up.” –Michelle Obama

We are social beings hardwired for connection. That means we need to spend time engaging with others to thrive. Studies have shown that people who socialize often have higher levels of happiness than those who don’t.[2] In addition, in the longest study in history on happiness, Robert Waldinger found:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”[3]

However, it’s not just about spending time with people. You must spend time with people who you love being with, who understand you, and who you trust. They should be people who support you and make you feel safe and loved, as well as heard and seen.

Try this: Make an extra effort to grow and nurture healthy relationships in your life. Spend time, in person, with friends, family, and colleagues. Schedule a regular date night with friends or family. Find more ways to create a sense of community and be social in your life – and have fun in the process!

5. Let Go

It is only when we let go, that new, untold possibilities present themselves.

Sometimes living life to the fullest is as much about what you let go as much as what you hold on to. Remember in the movie “Up” when Mr. Fredricksen is trying to get his house to fly? It was too heavy. He had to dump his belongings until the house was light enough to lift off. The same is true for your life. What do you need to let go of so you can move forward, live life to the fullest, and ultimately fly?

Try this: Identify what you need to release to move forward. What are you holding on to that’s holding you back: an old habit, limiting belief, or story you are telling yourself? Let it go. Perhaps it’s resentment, anger or frustration. Then forgive. When you wake up each day, treat it as a clean slate. If things didn’t go the way you wanted yesterday, leave that behind and move forward.

6. Be the Best YOU Can Be

“All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings.” –Oprah

We are all here to become the fullest expression of ourselves. That means being the best YOU that you can be. Take every opportunity to learn, grow, and evolve. The only way you can do that is through new experiences that push beyond your current capabilities, beliefs, and boundaries. Learn anything you can from anyone you can. Be open to feedback. Seek out opportunities for growth.

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Try this: Take chances. Say yes more often. Get out of your comfort zone. Make a goal to have one new experience a month or take time for your own personal and professional growth and development. With each new experience, ask yourself, “What did I learn? How can I progress? How can I move forward on my life’s journey?”

7. Be Thankful

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” –Eckhart Tolle

The best way to live a life you love is to love the life you live. Studies have proven a multitude of benefits from expressing gratitude, ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, mental stamina, energy, and overall happiness. Being grateful is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to live a full and happy life.

Be appreciative for what you have. Yes, I know thing may not be perfect, and you likely want something more. But you can still be grateful for what you have. You can always find something to be thankful for.

Try this: Start a daily gratitude practice. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

8. Listen More

How often do you find yourself somewhere, but not really there at all? Your mind has wandered far from the moment and the people you are with. Maybe you’re talking with someone, but you’re distracted, in your head, multitasking, or thinking about something else. With so much going on in our lives, I know I’m guilty of this.

Take the time to listen. Tune in to the world around you. Listen more. Listen better. Listen harder. Listen with all of you. Listen with focus, love and intention. Listen to yourself. Hear your inner voice. Heed your intuition. Listen to your partner, friends, kids, nature. Just listen.

Try this: The only way to truly listen it to be still. Be present. Focus on what is in front of you. Put everything else away. Put your phone down. Stop multitasking (yes, it’s possible). If you’re in a conversation, focus on hearing what’s being said, ask questions, seek to understand at a deeper level and find out more. Listen to yourself by being mindful, doing one thing at a time, journaling or tapping into your inner voice.

9. Have Fun

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” –Grace Hansen

In order to live life to the fullest, we must experience all that life has to offer. The only way to live life to the fullest is to truly live life. Do things you enjoy. Chase your dreams. Achieve your goals. Take advantage of every experience and opportunity you can.

So much of what we do is wrapped around what we have to do or what we should do. The result is that we often don’t do things just because we want to. Find things that bring you joy, invigorate you, and light your fire.

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There will always be a reason you can’t do something, and the timing will never be perfect. If you want to do something, do it now, or at least make a plan. Don’t get caught in the “when, then” trap. “When I get the promotion, then I’ll go on that trip,” “When I have enough money, then I’ll start volunteering.” What can you do now?

Try this: Identify what brings you joy and makes you feel happy or fulfilled. Do more of that! Plan more time for fun and adventure. Say yes more often. Make an effort to truly live a full and happy life.

10. Be Generous

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

Studies prove that the act of giving lowers blood pressure, increases self-esteem, improves happiness, and even helps you live a longer life![4]

Not only that, but giving provides so many benefits to others, ensuring that you are not only living life to the fullest for yourself but that you are contributing to a positive, greater good for the whole — and helping others have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest, too! You can leave people, animals, or the earth a little better for having been here.

Try this: Identify how you can serve, contribute, and give back. This may already be part of your daily life or job. If not, find a cause you care about and jump in. Giving back can come in many forms. It can be as small as smiling at everyone you see on the street or as big as starting a foundation for a cause that’s important to you.

Do One Thing. Do Them All. Just Do Something.

Your life will likely be full of ups and downs. Good and bad. Tragedy and triumph. How can you ensure you live your life to the fullest?

Imagine yourself many years from now, at the end of your life, looking back on the life you lived. What will you wish you had done? How will you wish you had spent your time? What would you be proud of? What would you regret? What would it mean to live a full and happy life? Ask the questions, get clear on the answers, and then work your way back to now.

Remember, our lives are made up of moments. Those moments make up hours, the hours make up days, the days make up years, and the years create your life. Ultimately, the best way to live life to the fullest is to live each moment to the fullest.

“You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” –Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindl-Rast

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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Tracy Kennedy

Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life Decision Making 101: How To Be a Successful Decision-Maker 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck How to Set Goals in Life to Achieve the Success You Want

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life

What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life

What is life about? What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist?

Everyone, from ancient Greek Stoics all the way to modern lifestyle gurus, have answered these kinds of questions in an endless variety of ways. And yet, we still search for a satisfying answer.

Neither this article, nor any other one, can deliver a tangible solution to the curious case of life. And that’s okay!

The truth is, part of what makes the meaning of life so alluring is its engrossing diversity, mystery, and intangibility. However, it’s important to point out that the lack of a solid answer doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for one. The search for what life is about is a journey that each individual person must embark on for themselves. Each person must look for their own, uniquely fulfilling answer to the question.

Fortunately, there are many different behaviors, ideals, and actions that humans have found over the centuries that can be excellent methods to draw us towards that final, inner conclusion of why we exist. Here are a handful of ways to kickstart the adventure of finding out just what life is really about.

1. Love People

Like life, love is one of the most commonly discussed yet, elusive things that humans encounter. Is it a behavior? A lifestyle? A person or object? A relationship with God? It’s used in all of these ways, depending on the context.

However, one thing that always remains is that love is a powerful force for good. Many of the most meaningful things in life are borne out of love — whether we’re loving things, others, or even ourselves.

One of the best ways to find the meaning of life through love is to practice connecting with our families. From parents and siblings to a spouse and children, loving our family is a powerful way to grow in our knowledge and appreciation of what life has to offer.

A spouse, children, friends, life partners, and strong platonic relationships provide a unique and powerful feeling that is difficult to find anywhere else. This is largely because they’re intimately connected to the eye-opening, natural desire to reproduce and leave our mark on the world through posterity.

2. Detox from Technology and Gain Perspective

Next up, we have the extremely important need to detox from time to time. Modern life is fraught with dangerously addicting distractions like social media, that can take up gobs of time without our ever even realizing it. And the effects can go beyond simply frittering away time. In fact, one study suggested that perhaps as much as a staggering 30% of divorces originate with Facebook interactions.[1]

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Life doesn’t simply happen in a vacuum, though. Once you’ve managed to disconnect from those devices and social profiles, it’s important to take that time and energy and redirect it towards a healthier mindset.

Spend time meditating, praying, and even simply dwelling on an attitude of gratefulness. Find things that you’re thankful for and make an effort to express appreciation for what you have on a regular basis (you know, rather than envying others as we scroll through our Facebook feeds).

One of the keystones to life that numerous wise men throughout history always hearken back to is the simple appreciation, gratefulness, and thanks that come with a good perspective.

3. Look for Meaningful Ways to Give Back

Donations and charities aren’t lacking these days. In fact, the phenomenon of charitable giving is at an all-time high. Awareness has skyrocketed in the age of information, and Americans gave a record-breaking $410.02 billion to charity in 2017 alone.[2]

But just because we know how to give doesn’t mean we’re really, truly invested in giving back to others. Real, honest giving doesn’t come out of personal abundance and overflow, nor does it typically take the form of a crisp dollar bill. It comes out of a desire to help others — a desire that can be huge in helping to get a healthy perspective of life.

If you want to find out more about life, consider genuinely giving back to the world around you. Don’t just scrounge up your extra cash and give it to a cause someone else is passionate about.

Find out where your own passions are. What needs and hurts in the world get your heart racing and your mind searching for a solution? Find those, then invest yourself. Give until it hurts. The results are exhilarating. This article can help you: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

4. Try a Hobby

While we’ve already talked about what we can do for others, that doesn’t mean a little self-care isn’t needed once in a while too. We’re not talking about indulging those shallow, fleeting desires like a bowl of ice-cream or a trip to the spa, though.

Small treats are perfectly fine, but they don’t go very far in helping us truly appreciate life itself. Instead, try looking for a new challenge.

A challenge can be the perfect formula for helping to open our eyes to the beauty of the world around us. They provide value without the perpetual responsibility and financial concerns that come with our careers and professional lives.

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Find a hobby that indulges your interests and simultaneously challenges your skills. Dive into a pursuit that has always intrigued or fascinated you, but you’ve never had the time to explore on your own. Practice a new instrument, go fly fishing, try painting, learn a language — the world’s your oyster! This list of 50 low-cost hobbies will inspire you.

If you’re thoughtful in your selection, you may even be able to pursue an interest that can inadvertently develop your life skills and possibly even add to your resume.[3]

5. Overcome Insecurities

Let’s circle back around to the personal, inner thoughts and behaviors. One of the critical elements to a life well lived — and thus better understood — is overcoming insecurities.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Everyone has insecurities.

Sometimes those insecurities are a bit difficult to pin down and see for what they truly are. One of the best ways to rise above the fears and anxieties of life is to work on your insecurities. Try to practice mindfulness, look for thought patterns, analyze your behavior, and identify when you’re being influenced by insecurities.

The more you become aware of your own insecurities, the more you’ll be able to rise above them, prevent selfish behavior, and enable yourself to do things that would have been impossible before.

If you’ve been trapped in a job you don’t like, for instance, due to insecurities about financial failure or peer pressure, overcoming those insecurities at their roots will enable you to move on somewhere else, to ask for that promotion you’ve been eyeing, or even simply move horizontally within the company in order to find better work that better satisfies your personality and talents. [4]

6. Never Stop Learning

Twelve years of structured school (not to mention a mini-career arc through college after that) can leave many of us feeling like we’re done with academics, school, and learning in general.

But the truth is, learning should be a lifelong process. Healthy humans are always in a state of learning. They see what’s around them and want to learn more, understand more, and see why everything is the way it is.

This doesn’t mean you need to manufacture a desire to start reading textbooks on calculus in order to see what life is about. It’s simply an encouragement to start to take an interest in the world around you. Investigate, probe, and learn more about things that catch your interest, and your passion for learning will start to grow on its own before long.

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For instance, even if you pushed yourself all the way through a masters degree already, don’t close the book on your academic career quite yet. Consider going back to school (no matter your age) in order to get a post-master certificate. [5] This won’t just give you an edge in the professional arena; it will also serve as a way to satisfy that inherent desire to learn.

While that’s just one example out of many, the point is, it’s important to find ways to continue learning and growing on a regular basis.

7. Go Minimalist

It’s easy to hear about concepts like “minimalism” and think about extreme lifestyles, like Buddhist monks living in barren temples up in the mountains. But the truth is, minimalism is an easy lifestyle to adapt even in the cluttered, materialistic West.

If you take small steps like avoiding purchasing unnecessary new things, storing seasonal items, and generally decluttering, you can ease into a minimalist mindset without much trouble.[6]

This doesn’t just help with finances and your cleaning schedule, either. A life with less clutter often leads to a clearer, more grateful mindset. And a grateful mindset can be a key part of gaining deeper insight into what this life stuff is really about in the first place.

8. Travel

You saw this one coming, right? Those that seriously travel tend to gain a deeper perspective of life as a whole. The trick is, though, you can’t go into your travels as a fanny pack-touting tourist that’s only interested in “seeing the sights” and hitting up the pristine beaches.

Here’s a good litmus test for you: if you expect everyone to talk to you in your native language as you travel, you’re not in the right headspace.

If you take the time to travel, make sure to do so with the specific purpose of seeing the world outside of your own comfort zone. How are other cultures different from your own? How do other geographic areas affect how people live? What does a developing or war-torn country truly look like?

If you set out with this perspective, you’re much more likely to have your heart and mind opened in ways you never could have expected.

9. Try to Be More Aware

Finally, we have one last, gigantic call to action: be more aware.

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If a person can truly foster the ability to pay attention to everything around them, they develop the ability to break free from the self-centered mindset that all humans naturally slip into when we’re not paying attention.

Just to clarify, this isn’t a call not to pay attention to your own thoughts and needs. They’re important too. In fact, the Dalai Lama said,

“One must be compassionate to one’s self before external compassion.”

Whether it’s ourselves at first or others afterward, truly developing the ability to be aware of and empathize with the life that goes on in and around us is a critical part of understanding just why we’re all alive in the first place.

So, What Exactly Is Life About?

Hopefully, by this point, you don’t really expect an absolute answer to that question. On the other hand, you may not feel it’s a hopeless inquiry, either.

Remember, the reason we don’t have a good answer about what life is about is that it’s too complex to fit into words in the first place!

The complexities and nuances of a “good life” are so profound that they take an entire lifetime of exploration — both of ourselves and the world around us — to even begin to formulate an answer. And even then, we’ve typically only scratched the surface.

When you break it down, the meaning of life is so deep and valuable, it’s worth chasing, even if the end goal is only to catch a glimpse of the glory that keeps us all moving forward day after day.

More About the Meaning of Life

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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