Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 25, 2021

13 Keys to Living Your Best Life and Aligning Your Priorities

13 Keys to Living Your Best Life and Aligning Your Priorities

Living the best life possible means different things to different people. When you think about what it means to live your best life, what immediately comes to mind? For me, all of my ideas about a good life changed twenty years ago.

While my husband and I were on our way to Nairobi, Kenya, a mentally-ill passenger broke into the cockpit and tried to crash the plane.

For five harrowing minutes, the plane did acrobatics in the air.

In those moments of life hanging on a thread, what living the best life really means for me suddenly became crystal clear.

Do you have a strong sense of what you want out of life but find it challenging to achieve that in the face of your day-to-day responsibilities and stresses?

Recent research has revealed 13 keys that can help us strike this balance between the big picture of what we want out of life and navigating everyday distractions.

But first, it’s important to figure out what living your best life means to you.

3 Questions to Ask About Living Your Best Life

For me, in the moments we faced death during that harrowing experience on the plane, I became intensely aware of these three questions by which I was judging how my life had been up to that point.

How Am I Experiencing Love?

The love I felt in that moment for my husband, our loved ones who were on the ground, and all others in the world was truly profound. I became aware that love—both my ability to receive it and share it—matters more than anything else.

How Authentically Am I Sharing My Unique Gift?

We each have a unique gift—the unique energy and essence that is who we really are. Each person has a unique gift to offer that no one else can or ever will again.

Living our best life means finding creative ways to share our best selves, whether in our work, our creative hobbies, or simply how we live.

What Am I Grateful for?

It’s easy to focus on our worries and anxieties or the distractions of everyday life. However, when we remember our own mortality, we realize that each moment is a gift.

What matters most in the big picture perspective of our lives is very personal. However, figuring it out is how we uncover our formula for living our best lives.

What’s Distracting You From Living the Best Life?

Today, my morning started before the sun came up. Emails, texts, and appointments called for my attention, including requests from my friends, family, and coworkers, as well as news alerts about the latest global crisis. To say nothing of our puppy, who was asking to be taken out for her morning walk.

A dilemma most of us struggle with is time. How do we manage our time so that our lives reflect what matters most?

Advertising

These 13 keys can help us focus, live with greater purpose, boost our happiness and well-being, and authentically connect with the unique gift we each have to share, even in the face of day-to-day distractions.

13 Keys to Living the Best Life Possible

1. Identify What Matters Most to You

It doesn’t take a near-death experience to reconnect with what matters most. Sometimes, just a few moments of asking tough questions can help you do the same thing.

What matters most to you? If you learned you only had a limited time left, what would you want to do with your time?

2. Practice Being Present

Research has revealed that a simple way to be happier and live your best life comes from developing the ability to fully experience each moment. Mindfulness is the ability to observe the present moment without judging it.

Mindfulness has many impressive benefits for physical and mental health. Diabetic patients who were taught mindfulness skills experienced lower blood sugar and increased happiness.[1]

Mindfulness on the job has been proven to reduce exhaustion and increase job satisfaction.[2]

Mindfulness is not difficult to learn and is something we can do in a moment. Right now, take a deep breath, and notice how the breath feels as it is going into your lungs.

How does your body feel? Are your muscles stiff or relaxed? Do you feel warm or cold? Use your five senses to describe your immediate experience.

Use your five senses to describe how your body feels and your immediate experience. This is all it takes to be fully present.

3. Savor the Moment

An incredibly powerful technique that I’ve been coaching my clients to do and have been doing in my own life for several decades is something I call Creating a Miraculous Moment. This is very effective when it comes to living our best lives.

Here’s how you can create a Miraculous Moment, right now.

Advertising

First, become present by looking around and noticing what is happening.

Then, find something very specific that you are grateful for—perhaps the way the sun feels on your face, feeling safe, hearing beautiful music playing in the background, etc.

Combining mindfulness with savoring the moment is powerful, and the benefits are backed by research. Doing these things together can improve your psychological health and life satisfaction.[3]

4. Listen and Have Empathy

Living the best life has a lot to do with the level of trust, empathy, and intimacy we have in our relationships with those we love.[4]

In his book, Nonviolent Communication, Marshall B. Rosenburg, Ph.D., explains that learning to listen to others with empathy and presence can dramatically transform our relationships.

Being a good listener helps people feel as if we really care about them. It also helps us to understand what they need and want, so we can be of service and come up with positive solutions[5]. His methods are rooted in the idea that “observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.”

Skills Strengthened by Empathy

    5. Learn to Flow

    One of the most powerful ways to connect with our true selves and experience positive emotions is through flow.

    Flow is like mindfulness in action. Flow is when we are so engrossed in what we are doing that we get into a zone and stop thinking about anything else. We can experience this when playing an instrument, playing a sport, creating artwork, writing an essay, reading a book, etc.

    Being in flow increases our happiness, helps us reach optimal performance, and boosts our creativity.

    According to researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, one of the best things about flow is it puts happiness in our control.[6] Rather than being happy because of outer events, we are in flow as a result of an inner experience we create for ourselves.

    Find things that transfer your mind to a flow state in order to start working toward living your best life.

    6. Hit the Reset Button (Often)

    Sometimes, life sends us curveballs we aren’t prepared for. It’s important to know how to get back to the center—to who we are and to reconnect with our goals and priorities. If you ever find yourself feeling off-course or negative, imagine hitting a pause button.

    It only takes a minute to re-focus. Some great tips for resetting include stretching, taking a deep breath, setting goals or intentions, and then beginning again.

    Knowing how to reset our energy is important when it comes to navigating minor distractions and major life changes for personal growth.

    Advertising

    7. Be Self-Aware

    There is a saying that awareness is the first step to healing. Sometimes we are so busy in life that we don’t take time out to hear our inner voice, which can have negative consequences for living the best life possible.

    We can also become blind to destructive habits that can have negative long-term effects on our well-being.

    When we prioritize getting to know ourselves, we gain information that can be extremely helpful in changing our lives for the better. If self-awareness is something you want to improve, consider working with a therapist or coach, journaling, meditating, or regularly sharing from a deep place of honesty with a friend who wants the very best for you.

    8. Comfort Yourself

    Self-awareness is great, but what we do with that awareness is even more important.

    Many of us have learned to be very hard on ourselves and self-critical in the face of challenges or aspects of self we would like to change. However, research shows self-criticism can have a very negative impact on our health, well-being, and the quality of our lives.[7]

    The good news is, self-compassion and the ability to reassure ourselves can be learned and can lower our risk of depression, anxiety, shame, and stress. Next time you find yourself being overly self-critical, try reassuring yourself, visualizing comforting and calming images, or imagining being comforted by a deep understanding, accepting, and empathetic friend.

    9. Do What You Love

    The benefits of hobbies and doing what we love during our free time have been widely accepted, including improving our well-being and reducing stress.[8] When we enjoy something, we are more apt to do it often.

    The more often we practice something, the better we become, and that can also act to boost our sense of well-being, confidence, and success.

    Activities we love are also those that can help us experience flow, which improves our happiness and can provide a direct experience of who we really are, our unique gift, and our true self.

    Shortly after our near-death experience on that flight to Africa, my husband and I took a three-month sabbatical and traveled around the United States, interviewing more than 100 people about their hopes and dreams, including what they’d always dreamed of doing. The joy on people’s faces as they shared their answers showed us that even the act of thinking about what we love to do can be a game-changer.

    Consider your own passions and what you love to do in order to find one of the keys to start living your best life.

    10. Develop Routines and Positive Habits

    One of the reasons the small stuff gets in the way of our big picture goals and intentions is that we haven’t established routines and positive habits.

    Routines can help us cut through the clutter, reduce distractions, and more easily accomplish all the little things that we all must do to survive, such as pay our bills, make our meals, wash and put away our clothes and dishes and yes, empty our email inboxes.

    Research shows that the better we are at creating routines to take care of our personal lives and health, the better our health and well-being.[9]

    One tip for creating a new habit, which Charles Duhigg discusses in his book The Power of Habit, is building habits on top of each other. In other words, if you already brush your teeth every night without fail, add a new habit to that already-established time and routine.

    Advertising

    11. Commit to Your Connections

    The COVID-19 pandemic showed us firsthand how important our social connections are. Community is an important factor in how happy we are with our lives, and our long-term well-being and health.

    If you feel disconnected or like you want to strengthen your sense of belonging and improve your life, consider calling a different friend each day; joining a church or spiritual group, support group, or book club; or exploring cultural or community events that might be attended by other people with shared interests

    To reconnect with favorite friends, try scheduling a weekly hike, coffee hour, Zoom call, happy hour, or email/text check-in.

    We get what we put out there. Show up when people you love ask for help or seek connection. Let go and create healthy boundaries with people who drain your energy.

    12. Move Your Body

    Exercise is an important key to staying healthy and happy and reaching your full potential.

    Research shows exercise can prevent depression, limit long-term illness, improve our moods, and increase our longevity.[10]

    We now know that it’s not only exercise that matters, but also how we hold and move our bodies when we are going through the motion of our lives, including working at our desks. Recent research shows that simply sitting up straight can make us more likely to think positive thoughts about ourselves and what is possible for our lives.[11]

    13. Spend Time in Nature

    One of the best ways to live our best lives is to spend time in nature. From the benefits of vitamin D from sunlight, to simply getting outside of our own world and connecting with something greater, the benefits of nature are well-established.[12]

    The more we learn, the more we realize how important it is to protect our natural spaces, parks, and trees, not just for our enjoyment, but also for our physical and mental well-being.

    Final Thoughts

    Living the best life requires knowing what matters most to us and reflecting this in what we prioritize in our day-to-day. The good news is, with intention and focus, small changes can make a big difference.

    Which of the 13 keys for living your best life resonates most with you? Which do you think has the greatest potential to change your life for the better?

    When we feel distracted or off-course, all we have to do is remember that each moment is a gift.

    No matter how far the anxieties or distractions of our lives have taken us from where we want to be, it only takes a moment to reset, shift from distraction to gratitude, remember what matters most, and begin again.

    More on Living Your Best Life

    Featured photo credit: Court Cook via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Laurie Smith

    Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

    13 Keys to Living Your Best Life and Aligning Your Priorities How to Set Intentions That Set You Up for Success What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By Understanding the 5 Stages of Life Can Help Navigate Hard Times how to get out of a funk How to Get Out of a Funk When You’re Stressed Out

    Trending in Life Potential

    1 7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions 2 How to Live Life to the Fullest and Enjoy Each Day 3 Why You Should Follow Your Passion Instead of the Money 4 What Are The Top 7 Priorities To Have In Life? 5 10 Actionable Tips To Make Tough Decisions in Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on March 2, 2021

    7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

    7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

    Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.

    If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future.

    If you want to get unstuck from where you are, make use of the 3-Step Guide To Break Free And Design the Life You Want. It’s a free guide that will guide you to break free from your limits and redesign a life that you truly want. You can grab your free guide here.

    Now, let’s talk about the 7 ways you can go about making life changing decisions.

    1. Realize the Power of Decision Making

    Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does.

    Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free.

    Advertising

    But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.

    2. Go with Your Gut

    Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process.

    Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with.

    Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.

    3. Carry Your Decision Out

    When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision.

    What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all.

    Advertising

    If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.

    4. Tell Others About Your Decisions

    There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through.

    For example, for the longest time, I’ve been trying to become an early riser. Whenever I tried to use my own willpower, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time.

    Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.

    5. Learn from Your Past Decisions

    Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow?”

    The truth is, you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions. Instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it.

    Advertising

    Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time?

    Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.

    6. Maintain a Flexible Approach

    I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.

    For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.

    Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.

    7. Have Fun Making Decisions

    Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity.

    Advertising

    You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.

    Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day.

    Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?

    Final Thoughts

    Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.

    Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.

    More Tips for Making Better Decisions

    Featured photo credit: Justin Luebke via unsplash.com

    Read Next