Despite the many things that make all of us distinctly unique from one another, at the end of the day many of us want the same thing: To live a happy life. There are countless simple ways to live life to the fullest that each of us can be practicing in order to achieve that goal. Is it practical to think that we’re going to be happy at every moment for our entire lives? No way. However, it is very possible that by all of us trying our best to be healthy and positive whenever we can, that we’ll end up feeling truly happy and fulfilled with our lives in general.
When I hear “live life to the fullest,” I immediately imagine someone jumping out of a plane. While that sounds really fun and carefree, getting the most out of our one shot at life doesn’t have to mean making big, adventure-seeking moves (unless you want to, in which case, by all means!). It just means taking some simple steps to make sure we’re doing the things we want to do, the things we enjoy doing, and the things that make us feel good inside and out. As I’ve said, it’s impractical to think we’ll all enjoy every single thing that happens to us at any given moment in a day. That’s completely unrealistic. We can, though, make the most of the remaining moments — so let’s do it. Here are 13 simple ways to live life to the fullest.
1. Book That Vacation
Always wanted to visit that island? Now is the time. Think of how fulfilled you’ll feel when you get to cross your dream trip off your bucket list. And get this — the act alone of planning that trip can actually make you happier, too, scientifically speaking. According to a study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life participants experienced a large boost in happiness from the act of planning a vacation. What’s more, according to the study, that heightened level of happiness remained for eight weeks while the participants anticipated their vacation.
2. Get Out Of That Bad Relationship
Chances are if you’re in a bad relationship you don’t need me to tell you you’re in a bad relationship — you’ve probably been counting the signs to breakup for quite some time. If you’ve been contemplating ending things because you’re spending more time unhappy versus happy, then just do it. Life is too short to spend it with someone who isn’t right for you. According to a Psychology Today piece by Juliana Breines, Ph.D., there are some strategies backed by research that can assist you in breaking things off if you decide that’s what is best. Ultimately, as Breines noted, only you know the answer to what you truly want. So, figure that out and then make moves accordingly (and keep your overall happiness in mind).
3. Channel Your Inner 8-Year-Old Self
Remember the days when you were as carefree as could be? The only things on your mind were making sure you made it home from school in time to see your favorite cartoon and seeing if your mom would buy you an outfit that matched your elementary school BFFs. As a grown up, we tend to forget the simple things in life that allow us to feel carefree and joyful. From time to time, we should leave some time for our inner child to play. Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Add More -Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness spoke to Health and suggested, “Even jumping on your bike for an afternoon ride with friends will make you feel more carefree.”
4. Browse Around Your Local Library
Gasp! An actual library with dusty books? Yes, I’m being serious. The goal here isn’t necessarily to read more books (though I am personally a proponent of that), but rather to learn something new. In you’ve never used a camera other than the one on your phone, dust off a book on photography, for instance. According to a study published in Psychological Science, participants who learned a new skill had significant improvements in their memory, and even more so if the skill was something difficult for that person to catch onto. So challenge yourself.
5. Don’t Live In The Fear Of Getting Hurt
For this, I’m specifically referring to emotional harm. If you’ve had a really bad broken heart in the past, you might be living in fear to make the leap into a new relationship — but don’t. You can and should move on, it’s all about walking through the right steps to make sure you do it at your own pace. Just because you’ve been hurt before doesn’t mean you’ll get hurt again. Don’t let that one bad relationship determine your future.
6. Pay It Forward
When I’m a little old lady in my 90s, I hope to look back on my life and feel like I made a difference, even if only in a small way. If you feel the same, let’s talk paying it forward. You do something nice for someone, and then they pass it on by doing something kind for another person, and so on. If you’ve heard the notion that generosity is contagious, you didn’t mishear, it’s true according to a study by Cornell University.
The study found that by receiving help, a person is more likely to be more generous to a stranger in the future. In an article in The New York Times, the authors of the study wrote, “We concluded that observing an act of kindness is likely to play an important role in setting a cascade of generosity in motion, since many people can potentially observe a single act of helping. But we found that it was receiving help that sustained the cascade as it spread through the group.” Whether you're a runner and decide to coach a friend who's training for a 5K, or donate your time to a local food bank doesn't matter. Just do something nice. You won't regret it.
7. Put Down Your Phone
This one speaks for itself. If you’re spending all of your time staring at your phone, just think about how much you’re missing right in front of you. If you haven’t seen this video by activist and rapper Prince Ea on why he refuses to let technology control him, you should check it out. The opening line is enough to pull you in immediately: “Did you know the average person spends four years of his life looking down at his cell phone?”
8. Nix Jealously
Oh, how much time I’ve wasted in life being jealous of others — from jobs, to homes, to successful love lives — and where did all of that energy get me? Precisely nowhere. Nowadays, I try not let jealous thoughts even enter my brain. To get rid of jealously, Debbie Mandel, MA, author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, suggested to WebMD that we should be aware of our own strengths, resist comparing ourselves to others, and use those feelings to instead encourage us to grow and accomplish things for ourselves.
9. Focus On Making Work-Life Balance A Reality
OK, I mentioned earlier what I want to be thinking about my life as a little old lady, but what about you? When it comes to work, specifically, do you want to look back and say, “I spent nearly all of my time at the office?” If that’s your thing, then do you. However, if you’re someone who hopes to balance work with personal life, let’s get you started on that pathway now. Your friends and family will be really happy that you’re making them a priority, too. I wrote a whole separate article with tips on achieving a better work/life balance — you can check it out here.
10. Throw The Word “Lazy” Out The Door
Having a balance between the time you spend at work and at home is important as we just discussed, but don’t let that pendulum swing the complete opposite way, either. By knocking “lazy” out of your vocabulary and instead opting to go above and beyond at work, you might see many benefits. Those benefits could include promotions and raises, according to LinkedIn.
11. Focus On The Positive
There truly is power in positive thinking, and I can personally attest to that. I’ve been on the dark side before, and the right way of thinking made all the difference in getting me back to light. And science agrees with me. According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown benefits of positive thinking include increased lifespan, lower rates of depression and lower levels of distress, and better coping skills, amongst others.
How do you go about it? According to her article on PsychCentral.com, Jane Framingham, Ph.D. said when things seem to go wrong, stop your mind right there and try not to let it give into despair. Turn your mind to the bigger picture, instead, and focus on the good things that are happening outside of the smaller hiccups, like big successes and things you’re grateful for. There are plenty of books on the store shelves to guide you, too.
12. Be Good To Your Body
Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly — try to do all of the things you’ve always been told are great for your body, because they are. According to Heathline.com, having healthy habits can benefit us in many ways, including improving our mood, boosting our energy levels, and combating potential diseases.
13. Be Good To Your Mind
Aside from trying to focus on thinking positively, cut back the worry. You don’t need it. As WebMD put it, “Worrying is feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation or problem.” If you let unnecessary and excessive worries consumed you all the time, WebMD said it can mess with your appetite, your job performance, and even your relationships. Take a deep breath and allow your mind to be worry-free as often as you can.
Want to live life to the fullest and be as happy as possible? Try incorporating some of the above points into your day, and you and I both can be really happy little 90-year-olds one day.