Everyone wants different things about life and not all of these points may apply to you. Think for yourself and take the ones that are useful for you and ignore the ones that aren’t.
Maintain Your Body
You only get one body and it has to last you for life. Make sure you do proper maintenance on it so you can enjoy life to the fullest. Being out of shape will mean you have less energy to do everything else in life. A few hours of exercise a week might not take any time in the end. If you have more energy you can accomplish all of your tasks more efficiently, whatever they maybe, saving the time spent in the gym in other areas of your life. I have never met anyone who regretted their time spent making their body better. If you are already active than make sure you take care of injuries. Take adequate time to recover if you need it. Work around injuries intelligently. Be active and smart.
Many people have an anxiety about getting old, while some of this is natural, some of it comes from the poor bodies many people develop with age. I have boxing coaches in their 50s and 60s that still spar. Because they remained active they are able to do things that many people in their 30s are unable to do. Investing in your body is an obvious way to lead a better life. Regular exercise is the key to maintaining your looks, energy, and positive outlook on life, among other youthful traits.
Maintain Your Mind
“Above all else pray for a sound mind, then a healthy body”~ Seneca
More important than your body is your mind. I have met old people whose body was failing and they were still content with life. While they were in physical pain, with a poor body, they still had inner peace. I have also met young people in amazing shape but they suffered from discontent. Having a positive mindset can make your life pleasant even if the current conditions of it suck. Having a negative mindset can make your life miserable even is the current conditions of it are awesome. Improving your mindset is probably the most difficult thing to change directly but here are some suggestions to go about it:
Surround yourself with happy, positive people. No one is an island, you are constantly exchanging information/energy with those you interact with. If everyone you meet is miserable you are going to be miserable yourself. Seek out a good community to be a part of and be a good member of that community.
Accept that bad things happen in life and you are going to feel bad some of the time. “Whatever you resist, persists” If you try to push away unpleasant feelings they will linger. Trying to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol will exacerbate the problem. Be cool with whatever you are feeling. Thinking you should be happy all the time is unrealistic. This can lead to a feed back loop where you feel bad about feeling bad, making you feel even worse. Maintain a positive mindset even when you are feeling down.
Be present to the moment. Develop your ability to focus. Engage in activities that stop your mind from thinking about other things. Be aware of your thoughts. The best example of this would be a meditative practice, although the benefits can be derived from any thing that prevents your mind from wandering. Being able to focus well will make life richer and more engaging.
Developing a healthy mind is different than just accumulating knowledge. An illiterate man in the jungle can have a very positive view on life, while a genius professor might be miserable. This is an elusive subject, it deserves some thought, but not too much.
Your attitude towards achievement will depend on your personality partially. It is important to find the middle ground that is right for you. On one extreme people have no ambitions at all. They have no direction at all and will never know they joy of doing difficult things. Having something you want to do can be an incredibly powerful force in making lifestyle changes. For example if someone wants to lose weight they would start exercising and eating better. By having a goal they are able to change habits and lifestyle because of having a focus. I think goals should be set with the accompanying lifestyle in mind. If that person hits their target weight and reverts back to not exercising and eating poorly they will put the weight back on. Goals need to develop useful habits on the path to reach them for them to create meaningful change.
On the other extreme people become obsessed with achievement, setting out big goals and sacrificing much to reach them. This person will face very different challenges compared to someone who lacks ambition. They have a tendency to exaggerate how good reaching a goal will feel in their mind. Achievement feels really good, but it is not a lasting feeling, it is icing on the cake. This is a very dangerous mistake to make because of the time, effort and sacrifice needed to make big goals a reality. These people will make enormous sacrifices, say for a career, only to find it to be just another job. This can cause a great deal of unspoken anguish for these people, making them feel trapped. I suspect this phenomena to be responsible to many mid-life crises when people get the good job, white picket fence, and 2.3 kids only to find out life is pretty much the same as when they were working towards those things. Working hard to achieve things is great, but don’t expect achievement to lead to a happy life by itself.
I think goals should be something that motivates you to better yourself, not something to please you ego, vanity and others. Pick something that you want to work towards and even if you don’t meet it that the progress in that direction will be enough to make you happy. Pick destinations that are challenging but enjoyable to get to, don’t expect the destination to make up for a terrible journey.
Be Cool With the Fact Everyone is Selfish
Everyone’s number one priority is themselves, as it should be. If you can not benefit them in anyway don’t expect to have a place in their life and if someone isn’t benefiting you they should be cut out. Mutual benefit is the foundation of healthy relationships. This should not be cause for cynicism, but rather an opportunity for reflection.
People are social creatures and want to associate with positive, respectful people with similar interests. To make someone else’s life a little bit better is pretty easy to do. Participate in activities, be a nice person and help out when you can. The more people you help the more you will move up in this world. If you want good friends you have to be a good friend yourself. If you want money you have to provide a useful product or service that is more beneficial for your customers than what you are charging. If you want blog views you have to write posts worth reading etc. etc.
Its a basic concept which regulates healthy relationships whether they be business, romantic, or simple friendships. I know some people who get pretty jaded when they start to realize this principle, which I think is unfortunate. Remember that most people feel good about themselves when they do something nice for others. If someone gives a gift or does you a favour be sure to express your appreciation so the other person can benefit by giving. Also if you aren’t going to feel good about helping someone out, than don’t do it. This will prevent you from thinking others ungrateful.
Accept Your Life for What it is
Do not be envious of other people. You are your on your own journey and can’t have someone else’s path. Wishing to have what others have isn’t going to bring you closer to obtaining what you want. Envy is going to make you take the good things in your life for granted. You are stuck with the life you have been given and no amount of wishing will change that. Try your best to improve in the areas you can change and accept that there are things you have no control over. I leave you with a quote from Henry Thoreau
However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is
Leave your answers in the comment section. These are personal questions, don’t go looking through the essay for the “right” one.
- How are you developing your body? There are many different forms of exercise. Which ones do you like the best? Which ones do you want to do but don’t?
- Do you have an optimistic, positive mindset or a negative pessimistic one? Do you think you have control any over your mind? What activities do you do that make you happy?
- What kind of goals have you set for yourself? How will working towards them benefit your lifestyle?
- Do you have “friends” who only contact you when they want something from you? Do you do the same to them without realizing it?
- Are you happy with your life the way it is? What insights in this essay did you find useful for your life?
As always, thanks for reading!