How much do you love your life?
This may be the very first time you have been asked this question, but you probably should really be asking yourself this almost every day. Our decisions and choices create the life that we find ourselves in. It is possible, if you aren't paying attention to where it is all headed, that you may end up somewhere you never actually intended to go. While there are no quick fixes, there are a few steps you can take to begin your journey of getting back on track to loving your life.
In order to love our life we need to be spending a lot of our time and energy on aspects that mean the most to us. Yet often, we make judgements and agree to incidentals that take away our time as well as our energy.
For you to move forward, it may be wise to commence by thinking about what the main three priorities in your life really are. If you answer family, creativity, and adventure, for example then it might be difficult to enjoy a life where you are doing little more than boring, repetitive tasks, and losing out on precious time with your loved ones. Does your life, your work, your home, really reflect you and those things you hold dear?
Take out your diary and be in charge of your schedule.
Bring what you enjoy into what you do. If you love cooking and you work in an office, bring home-made snacks to work for your colleagues to enjoy. For those who are missing out on family time, see if you are able to free more non-negotiable time to spend with your kids and partner every week. Start with small beginnings. Invest an extra hour every now and then on things that are deemed important to you. Make your time suit your needs.
2. Manage Expectations
So often people are swamped in misery simply because their lives are just not meeting their expectations. Maybe your companion isn't the fairy tale true love you always dreamed about. Perhaps your job isn't the career that you thought it might be when you were younger. It could be that you are living day to day at an age when you thought you could be financially more stable.
There is no need to lessen your expectations of a happy, content life. But in these circumstances it may well be important to sit down and figure out whether unhappiness is the result of a situation that isn't helping you, or if you are comparing your life with a fantasy. Accepting people, jobs and life for what they are right now can be a healing experience for many people. Your companion, husband or wife may not be the perfect soul mate you dreamed of - but comparing them to someone who doesn't exist will only make you both unhappy.
3. Count What's There - Not What's Missing
Remind yourself about everything that is great in your life. What does your partner do better than anyone else? What does your work provide you that you've stayed on this long? What prompted you to choose this job in the first instance? Most of the wonders of life are not the plans that come to fruition, but the surprises along the way.
4. Take Time Out
Even if your life is wonderful in every way, everyone needs a break every now and then. You may have a job you love or have a wonderful family, but too much of a fine thing can be bad for you. Fatigue sets in, you begin to feel worn out, resentful, and wonder about changing your circumstances. Maybe nothing is wrong with your situation - you just need to pause and take a breather.
Research shows that people gain much more benefit before their holiday than during or after the holiday. This has led researchers to claim that anticipation of a holiday can be as important as the holiday itself. Plan and schedule regular vacations, spread out your annual leave to some shorter holidays distributed throughout the year, and get regular mini-breaks such as a night out with friends, weekend camping trips to get a change of scenery, and taking time to just be by yourself and do practically nothing.
Spending time alone is beneficial for mental and emotional well-being. Take more control over your daily schedule and arrange for regular alone time. Take yourself on a date to a cafe, do the gardening, go for a run, or embark on an adventure.
5. Find Your Passion
Experiencing passion is an important portion of living a contented and meaningful life. Inject passion into every day, even weekdays when you have to work and don't feel particularly passionate. If you search hard enough, you will always find some aspect to be passionate about.
When passion is lacking, it can be re-ignited by your favorite food, taking a course, or a night out with mates. Passion can derive from anywhere - it may be reading, creativity, helping others, playing sports, your friends, or visiting neighbouring countries. Passion can come from something really modest, like drinking a coffee. There is no right or wrong. Notice activities that evoke true excitement from within you, and also notice what kind of person inspires you.
What famous or notable person do you most wish you could be? This might be the first step in realizing how to live the life you love. If you genuinely aren't sure what your passions are, start with a fresh slate and learn something you've never tried before.
Take a course in something you're curious about; visit a new town; try some exotic dishes; start meeting new people, or check online and start following blogs on any subjects that interest you. Many of the world's finest chefs, writers, artists, designers, architects, athletes, innovators and entrepeneurs blog often about their thoughts, ideas and advice.
6. Learn to Love Yourself
Finding a life you love is only possible if you can love yourself. This does not mean arrogance or denying that you have faults. Loving yourself is more or less being your own best friend, a person who can accept you on both good days, and bad days when things don't go to plan.
Acknowledge and accept your flaws and shortcomings, but resolve to look after yourself well. You have the right to be loved and treated well, not only by yourself but also by others. You deserve a decent life that makes you happy. Not because you are perfect, but even though you are flawed and human, and even though you may find it difficult at times, nonetheless you still deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion.
This isn't always straightforward. We don't always learn to be good to ourselves while growing up. It is a skill that grows as time passes, and will keep on growing stronger provided we work at it. And the greater amount of love we give to ourself, the less we will need to run around fixing troubles or finding solutions. Loving your life can become a habit.
Most importantly, foster an 'attitude of gratitude' for the gift that is your life, and for anything there is in it. It may not be ideal, but it's your own -- and now is the time to live it.
Peter Field is one of the leading British hypnotherapists and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health. Click for information on his hypnotherapy Birmingham and London practices. He is the author of the best selling book on hypnotherapy 'The Chi of Change'.