Every so often, we might experience a fleeting moment of overwhelming monotony. We find ourselves situated somewhere between daily responsibilities and the desire to shake things up a bit. When routine becomes too consistent, the natural human instinct to crave more out of life kicks in, and that's when we wonder where to begin.
Is it a matter of being more concerned with our social lives than career? Should we dedicate more time to personal wellness than checking off the daily to-do list? Finding balance in life is about prioritizing the areas which bring about the most happiness and fulfillment, and recognizing the self as paramount.
To dive deeper into the practice of prioritizing, I consulted with Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, Founder & Chief Relationship Advisor of Relationup and Relationship Therapist; Leaha Mattinson, life coach and author of the upcoming book, Silver Linings ; and celebrity renowned lifestyle and relationship expert Audrey Hope.
For a better, more fulfilling life, here are the 11 surprising things you should prioritize.
1. Clearing Negative Energy
"It is vital to clear negative energy every day, just like when we shower. People must be aware they are sponges and absorb the energy of people and events. Say each night, in a nice warm epsom bath, 'I now release all negative energy from this day,'" Hope shares with Bustle via email.
Make it a point to wash off the day and dismiss the weight you've been carrying around with you. Nothing will leave you feeling more refreshed and renewed than leaving the negative behind.
In that same vein, Hope suggests focusing on healing in all areas, saying, "Be brave and look with a sharp light at what is causing you pain. Search the wounds, the emptiness, the baggage and the issues, and get professional help. Join classes and spiritual retreats, and discover your pain and weaknesses to heal them. Don't carry the baggage another day."
2. Indulging In Alone Time
"Alone time gives you an opportunity to recharge your battery. Socializing can be exhausting as it involves attending to others and being involved in a constant feedback loop of interaction and assessment. Having some solo time allows you to shut off our brain and the outside world," Milrad recommends.
It's essential to your health that you take time to recoup and focus on you. Find a good balance between alone time and socializing and stick to it to stay grounded.
3. Finding Counterbalance
According to Mattinson, the work-life balance is not realistic, but counterbalance is achievable.
"Picture the difference like this: Work-life balance is like a scale with an equal amount of time, energy, and resources on each side of the scale. Counterbalance is more like a continual game of tug-of-war with the goal being that there is constant tension on both sides with there always being a bigger goal of not going out of tension. So we don’t spend too much time doing any one thing; rather, we bring ourselves back to tension in all areas, giving the proper amount of attention to each thing in any given moment. This is a much more fluid, nimble, responsive way to give attention to all of our priorities," Mattinson explains.
Where aiming for balance may leave us feeling unfulfilled in one or both areas, counterbalance maintains a state of equality between the two, where one is no less important than the other.
4. Tending To Your Wellness
"You must take care of body, mind, and soul. This is done by a routine, an everyday program that gets your body moving. Keep in shape because if you feel and look great, life will come to meet you in wonderful ways," Hope suggests.
Do more of what makes you feel good from the inside out, tending to your personal wellbeing on a figurative and literal matter so you can tackle everything else with peace of mind.
Mattinson further explains the need for personal wellness, saying, "Spiritual, physical, emotional wellness allow us to tend to the other areas of our lives no matter what is going on. When we lose our wellness, which includes our self-respect, we are less successful at managing, prioritizing, and managing change in general. We are consumed by healing ourselves and not capable of seeing issues outside of ourselves or opportunities. Once our health is good we can look outside of ourselves to work on the other priorities."
"Inclusion activities are activities that bind people together. What is the binding force is that there is a genuine care and concern coming from the mentor and going to the student. This elevates the relationship to one of not just I’m going to show you something to I am going to make sure you learn something! This ties to self-respect growing in both parties. The teacher feels important and valued, and the student feels competent and proud of their accomplishments," according to Mattinson.
These activities can be as simple as taking on the role of grandparent, teaching a young family member how to cook, or offering your guidance to someone in need.
6. Practicing Self-Respect
"If you’re not living your best life, it’s a problem in your self-respect. A person that respects themselves loves themselves and from that place lives their best lives. They incorporate activities that lead to self-respect, and almost as important, they exclude those things that erode or sabotage it," Mattinson shares.
"Relationships are the most important thing we have in the world, and socializing is the way to nurture those connections in a healthy way. ... Relationships are the most important thing and they are the most difficult to navigate. We need other people to reflect back to us what’s most amazing about us, and we do the same for others. Having a sense of purpose every single day and working on it every single day is fulfilling, but not to the exclusion of people," says Mattinson.
Without interpersonal connection, we have no one with whom to share experiences in life and the emotions that come with them. Human-to-human interaction is essential for our sanity and happiness.
Milrad further explains, "Connections give us anchoring and fill our soul. Without them, people turn inward, become isolated, and look out only for their own good. ... Without feeling connected to others, our lives lack meaning."
8. Finding Purpose
"[People who feel unfulfilled] lack a connection to mankind. Their focus is geared toward how to make the world better for themselves. Their ambition is directed at accumulating material goods for themselves, and they measure their worth that way. They need to learn how to get outside of their own needs and to positively impact the world for others," Milrad tells me via email.
Where there is a lack of satisfaction with life, we should seek out purpose. If we have not yet discovered our reason for being, what we can give back to the world, we have not yet realized what we're living for.
9. Living In Gratitude
According to Milrad, "No matter what your circumstances are, you are able to be in appreciation for the positives of any circumstance. Gratitude keeps you humble and modest and appreciative and helps you see the positive in all situations."
We should always count our blessings and aim to appreciate what we have over desire for what we don't.
10. Finding A Spiritual Guide
Though many of us may find connection to a religious higher power, a spiritual guide can come in many forms and help us to get back on track when we lose sight of what's important.
"This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. It can be connecting with nature, meditation, exercise, and anything that centers or grounds you," Milrad explains.
11. Doing Something Nice For Someone
There is no greater reward than a random act of kindness met by the priceless reaction of the person you're helping. Giving back is not only fulfilling, but a reminder that even when times are rough, they are worse for someone else, and it is always within our capacity to lend a helping hand.
"Being kind to someone else allows you to do something that makes you feel good about yourself and the kindness you are showing someone else," Milrad says.
When it comes to prioritizing your life, reconsider what's most important to you. What have you been focusing on lately that's left you feeling unfulfilled? On your last day, what might you look back and wish you had done differently? Make it your goal to cater to these things and stay true to yourself, and you'll soon notice how all the other pieces fall into place.