It was Oscar Wilde who said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” I, myself, am only just now learning how to truly live. Honestly, I think most of us do not know how. We simply exist in our day to day lives, following our routines, playing it safe, and doing what we know is familiar. We try to control every outcome because we are afraid of letting things fall out of our control. And then what happens is we ultimately stop living. We stop enjoying life for what it is – this short, yet profoundly beautiful period of time, in which we are meant to simply experience, create, share, and love during our existence and to make the most of our precious time that we have been given.
But most people don’t view life that way and it is because they are filled with such fear that in order for their lives to be meaningful, they must treat everything so seriously and accomplish all of these tasks that will somehow make them feel worthy and successful.
Thanks to my “new” life, as well as my amazing boyfriend (yes, a little shout out to you bug), I am learning that life is not meant to be taken so seriously. That it’s ok to laugh a little and act playful. That sure, things are going to be rough sometimes, but you’ve got to have a little faith that things ultimately will fall back into place in their own time. Because if you continually allow yourself to live in that state of fear and worry, you are always going to be waiting for things to “get better” until you can begin to start enjoying life, and sometimes things are never going to be ideal, so you have to start enjoying now and making the best of what you do have right then.
How do we stop existing and start living? Here are a few things I’m coming to learn that may help you begin living a more fuller and joyful life:
- Be playful. Learn to laugh (at yourself and otherwise). I’ve always been the serious type, so being able to laugh at myself or acting playful, does not come easy to me, sadly. I do have a sense of humor, and love to laugh, but when it comes to allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to be silly, that terrifies me. It probably has to do with my own self image and wanting to always portray this totally put together person who never does anything wrong. How completely silly is that, right? We’re all allowed to be human and have flaws and sometimes that means being silly and laughing at ourselves when we do fall a bit short. One of my favorite yogi’s and the founder of Yoga With Adriene, Adriene Mischler, is constantly inviting her followers to be playful, especially in their yoga practice. Life is not all about being perfect all the time, but rather learning how to have fun even in the midst of difficult tasks. When we are able to not take things so seriously, it gives us that room for grace, so that we don’t have to try so hard to pretend to be someone we’re not just so we can appear perfect. We need to learn to love who we are and sometimes that means giving ourselves permission to laugh a little, especially at ourselves. Why should we create this idea around life that it has to be serious in order for it to be successful? I’m learning that the more we are able to laugh and brush off our failures, the more fulfilling and joyful life becomes.
- Have faith and trust life a little.
I’ve always admired my boyfriend’s faith in God and in life in general. He’s always been the type to go after what he wants, and he will take giant leaps of faith, trusting that in some way things will work out because God is always looking out for his good. It takes a lot of surrender to be able to be that way, but it also eases his worries when he does let go of that need for control. I want to be that way. I believe in God, and yet I find it hard to surrender control to Him because I want that sense of control over my own life. I want to know that I can make things happen in my own strength – but then you know what ends up really happening – I end up worrying about EVERYTHING because I assume this massive responsibility of trying to control EVERYTHING in my life. And sometimes we need to let go. We need to surrender to that higher power and just trust in life to go as it should. We have to be willing to let go of our attachments to what we believe should be happening at that very moment, and just learn to accept things as they come because maybe that’s exactly where we need to be right then in our journey.
- Find balance.Balance is probably one of the hardest things to achieve. We are always either doing too much or too little of something, and when we do try to find some place in the middle, it doesn’t last for very long. But I think the reason for that is because balance is one of those things you have to work at every day. But when you do, you find that pure state of bliss. We must work to find that balance in our daily lives. Between work and play. Between healthy eating and indulging. Between taking life serious and not so seriously. It’s never good to be at one side of the spectrum, because that’s when we will begin to feel like our lives have become either too mundane or too chaotic. Finding that middle ground is possible. As Adriene says, “find what feels good.” You’ll know when you’re in balance. It’s when you’re not working too hard, but working just hard enough and still feel good about it.
- Choose curiosity over fear.
Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about this idea on her podcast, Magic Lessons: “Dear Creativity and Fear.” She was giving advice to a fellow artist in hopes that she would be able to move past her fears of creating and venturing out into different parts of her craft. She told her to choose curiosity over fear and this had a great impact in regards to my own life. I feel that when we constantly choose fear, it is because we are trying to remain safe, and yet when we remain too safe, we hold ourselves back from experiencing anything that could be great. When we choose curiosity instead we are giving ourselves permission to go after what sparks our interest and allowing ourselves to dive into the deeper parts of our passionate selves, which will produce that fruit of creation. And that’s ultimately what should be our goals as human beings – constantly creating something, whether it is art or something else we are passionate about expressing. We must also remember that when we do choose curiosity over fear, that we are also taking that risk of failure, but we must learn that that is ok. Failure is a symptom of growth and as long as we are growing, then we’re not really failing.
- Look for your blessings first.
Ever think that sometimes the reason why we feel so unhappy or that life is just too serious is just because our focus is centered on our problems? What you focus on, is what you manifest. If you think only about the negative in your life or what you are lacking or even all of your worries, you will begin to feel chaotic, depressed, and anxious internally. Life will seem miserable and you will begin to wonder who sucked all the fun out of it. If we shift our focus and start to remember how we are blessed, we will begin to see that life really isn’t as bad as we make it seem. Sure we may have problems, but so do others. It is only when we can take a step back and look at the entire picture, that we can begin to see how miniscule our problems are compared to how much we are blessed. We take for granted some of our most basic needs like having our health, or money, or shelter, or food. We forget that there are people who love and care for us, who we can always turn to. We overlook the fact that we have a job that sustains us or that we make enough money to even afford many luxuries that others cannot. Remember what you have and who you have and it will make life more worthwhile.
I’ve really been trying to incorporate these principles into my life more so I can begin living more fully. I’ve noticed already the changes in my attitude and well being. I feel happier. I feel like life seems brighter. I am appreciating more. And I am starting to feel like I am truly alive and truly living. That’s the most important part. Because when we merely exist, life can become so dull, repetitive, and passionless. And it’s definitely not meant to be lived that way.
The dictionary defines being alive as being lively, vital, energetic, and alert. How can we be these things if we are constantly worrying, stressing out, or taking life too seriously? We can’t. So let’s stop existing. Let’s go out and have a laugh. Let’s have a little faith that things will work out. Let’s trust in our journey. Let’s find some balance and entertain our curiosities. But most importantly, let’s appreciate what we already have, and realize that we actually have a lot that makes our lives so full already. Then vitality will follow.
The Self Love Challenge: Begin to find ways of feeling more alive in your daily life.
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