Can you see yourself sitting down watching a sunset, the waves lapping the white sand beach as the evening’s last rays of sunshine warm you? A book lies forgotten in your lap and all you are thinking about is how wonderful it is to be you, right here, right now.
Compare this to you watching the sunset and feeling guilty that you should be making dinner, finishing a work assignment, doing laundry, calling your mother or anything other than just enjoying yourself.
Somewhere along the line, feeling guilty, fearful, and unhappy has become the norm. It is almost expected. What happened to us to take away our feeling of excitement for what tomorrow holds and replaced it with worry?
It is time to revisit the things that caused this change, and to nullify their effects on us. Keep reading for 14 ways to live a life free of fear and full of hope.
1. Let go of pre-existing ideas that don’t make sense.
My friend and radio co-host, Sally Nutter, told me about a time she thought she couldn’t eat a pizza because she couldn’t find a knife to cut it. She finally realized that she could tear it up and enjoy it just as much.
There are so many ideas that are set in our minds early on and never looked at again. We do the darndest things for no other reason than we have always done them that way, or someone told us it was the right way to do it.
Start looking at the things you do. Re-evaluate the things that bug you. If they don’t make sense, do it your own way!
2. Know your own power.
Everyone doubts their ability to make things go right. Many times these doubts have nothing to do with whether we can or can’t, but they make us very unhappy.
Take a look at the doubts you have and put them into words. What, or who, made you feel doubtful? As we grow, doubts can be sown in our minds. They can be stated outright or simply implied. Remember that this is someone else’s opinion and can be discarded no matter how much they assert it as truth.
Look at these doubts in the present and decide whether they are true for you. Discard the ones that don’t make sense.
3. Look carefully at the things you are afraid of.
I had a friend who I wanted to take traveling with me, but she was afraid of flying. Back in the ’80s planes were falling out of the sky and many of us developed fears based on media reports.
In order to help her out, I sent her to a site that outlined all of the advancements that have been made, and how safe airplanes are today. There were details of exactly how these new things worked and the statistics on safety. She felt a lot better after that.
Things in the past can impact how we view things in the present. Look at current information on things that make you fearful and see if you are worrying over something with relatively low risk.
4. Trust yourself.
Somehow you have made it through everything life has thrown at you and you are still in the game. Although life is uncertain, take a minute to look at all of the seemingly impossible times you have had to deal with. Think about all the times you asked yourself if you would make it through. Somehow you did it. You may not have done it gracefully, but you did it!
Have faith that whatever happens in the future, you will find a way to deal with it.
5. Quit looking for stuff to fix
There are many home improvement shows, and I love them, but there are times when we should be happy with what we see in front of us.
Our houses are not model houses. We live in them. They will, at times, be untidy and look lived in. Relax. If something needs to be fixed, trust that you will get to it. But for now, just enjoy.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff
When we go through tough times, we adopt survival patterns that work for the rough times, but are not necessarily right for every day living. We may have decided to worry about the small things so they don’t get away from us. It takes the joy out of life.
If something goes wrong, you will notice and handle it. Most of the small stuff irons itself out.
7. Remind yourself that you are worthy.
There are many messages tossed at us in life. Most of the time they are attempts to get us to buy something. We are told we are not thin enough, smart enough, educated enough, or cool enough.
Here is a new take on these things: you are enough. You are enough no matter what you weigh. You are enough no matter what your IQ. You are enough if you decide that you are.
These things are up to you, not anyone else. Know that you, as you are, are worthy of love, happiness, and all the good things in life.
8. No matter what is bugging you, you can always do something about it.
Looking at your situation right now, it may look pretty bleak. But no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something that you can do about it.
If there is something bugging you, sit down and figure out some things you can do about it and then go and do them.
9. Hang out with positive people.
There is nothing more discouraging than someone who is apathetic and makes it known to everyone around him or her, or the person who is always angry or sad no matter what you do to help them.
These people can bring us down. Limit your exposure to these people. The majority of your time should be spent with dynamic people who are happy and get things done. People who find ways of handling things in life are the people who feed you positive energy.
10. Don’t let anyone insult, manipulate, or use you.
This can be hard to spot but whenever you feel uncomfortable around someone or feel as if you are walking on eggshells, chances are they are doing or saying things that bring you down and make you liable to manipulation.
Social rules can make it difficult to stand up for yourself when someone is negative or insulting, but that is what that person is counting on.
People who covertly insult you are counting on the fact that you feel you are being rude if you point out that they have acted thoughtlessly. But they are the ones who lack manners. If someone insults you, you have every right to cordially insist that they treat you with respect.
It is not good manners to sit there and be abused. If someone insulted your spouse or child, you would rise to their defense. Why not rise to your own defense?
11. Don’t set personal goals based on external influences.
Last week I was talking about goals with my brilliant friend, Julia. She reminded me that it can be damaging to set personal goals based on external factors over which we have limited or no control.
For example, having a personal goal of winning a dance competition is an external goal because you never know when the judges will be biased, or some other competitor has a better day than you. Having a personal goal of learning a highly technical program, on the other hand, is a good internal goal because it is something over which you have complete control.
Look over your goals and revise them so that you are in control of the outcome.
12. Throw away the newspapers.
Most of what is written in the newspapers is BAD NEWS! There is nothing like something very scary to make people buy and read newspapers. Have you noticed that there is rarely, if ever, good news on the front page?
Good news exists everywhere. You don’t have to look hard to find it. If you are having trouble believing this, write down all of the good things you see in a day. People open doors for others, people put on benefit concerts to raise money for injured or ill people. The list can go on.
I fully believe that way more great things happen each day than bad things, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.
13. Work with children.
My job is teaching music to children. It is the best job I can think of. They are so bright, adorable and fun. They are excited about the future, even if the future is a sleepover or a movie. Kids are more balanced than the average adult because they have not learned to be worried or fearful.
Working with children in whatever capacity you can puts you in the same mindset. I get swept away daily by these kids and their ideas. It is the highlight of my life.
14. Listen to music or take a look at some high quality art.
Art and music are the antidote to the stress and negativity of life. It is like the Yin and Yang. It is your choice whether to focus on the good or the bad. Contrary to what many people believe, art and music are not just whimsical pursuits. They are the breath of life.
Many articles tell you to focus on the good but they don’t tell you that you have to make an effort to go out and find the good. It doesn’t just come to you.
Go to Youtube and find music you love, look at websites and books to find art that makes you happy. Bookmark them and go to them often. Make it a large part of your life to seek out and enjoy these things. Tip the balance in favor of things that make you really happy. This has a profound effect on your happiness level.
Go have a look in the dusty corners of your mind and pull out some of your old decisions and thoughts about things. Take a look at them in the bright light of day and see if they still make sense. If not, toss them in the trash and move on!
Featured photo credit: sunflares free sun enjoyment of deep breathing girl via shutterstock.com