Are you living the life of your dreams? Perhaps you said yes with confidence (woohoo!). Or perhaps you felt unsure, despite being well-versed in health, wellness, and self-nurturing as we are at Peaceful Dumpling.
If you’d asked me the question a while ago, I would have demurred. Despite being an expert at self-motivating and self-comforting (equal and opposite forces), I truthfully wasn’t sure that I was living my best life. For some months, this uncertainty grew into a deep anxiety and affected the way I felt about my work and my personal life (so basically, my whole life).
Ironically, the feeling of assurance came at the most unexpected moment: late last night, as I rode the bus back into Manhattan after 11 hours of traveling just from South Carolina. I was shot from intense days of training, being stranded at random local airports with no Wifi (for 7 hours!) and plain being away from home. I was still wearing workout clothes, my hair matted in a knot, muscles aching. But when I saw the city lights looming in the distance, I felt a huge sense of relief that this is the life I’m meant to live.
The great realization at that moment was that your best life isn’t your perfect life. In my perfect life, I live in a delightfully sunny apartment with a dining room and a patio, have a best-selling book in the works, and a walk-in closet full of prettiest clothes and shoes (or at least the funds to buy them. I’ll take either). Also, I’d be in a constant state of domestic bliss and harmony with my boyfriend. I’d been waiting for that perfect, flawless life to arrive, instead of recognizing what I have, and making sure that it’s expanding and growing in the right direction. It’s that moment of growth that makes it your best life, here and now.
Here are some ways I’ve been tweaking my attitude in the past weeks for that sense of living fully.
1. Embrace challenges.
Most of us feel like we have enough on our plates already. But challenging ourselves doesn’t just mean cramming more work and stress into our schedules. These challenges should inspire and energize you as well as test your boundaries, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically. Find something that both frightens you and excites you, whether that is running a marathon, learning a new language, or even just meeting more people.
2. Stay in it.
Challenging yourself is bound to come with some struggles. Instead of having a knee-jerk reaction of mentally or physically detaching yourself from it, stay present in the discomfort. For instance, I was physically challenged by teacher training (so much planking), but even more so emotionally by being away from home and feeling lonely (truly, my Achilles heel). But instead of getting angry because of loneliness and fatigue, or more likely just ignoring those feelings, I acknowledged them simply and “invited” them to change me. This gave me a chance to test my resilience and realize just how much I can take–giving me a sense of earned confidence.
3. Celebrate yourself.
How often do you acknowledge and admire yourself? Your birthday shouldn’t be the only day of the year when you get to celebrate who you are. Every day, embrace and appreciate all your hard work, authenticity, creativity, beauty, and kindness, however you may choose. Treat yourself to small (or big) indulgences, whether that’s a foamy hot latte, a new nail polish, or some fresh flowers. Tell your body “Thank you” for carrying you all this way, your mind for keeping you on your path, your heart for all that you experience. Sometimes I also stand in front of the mirror, roll my shoulders back and down, and give myself a good confident smile. Why not?
4. Let small things be small.
We all face small letdowns from time to time, like an argument with your partner, forgetting to pay your bill on time, or losing your favorite pair of sunglasses. Be as upset as the occasion legitimately calls for, but no more or no less. It’s frustrating, but probably not reason to lament your whole life.
5. Cut out the negative.
Recently I found out that I wasn’t invited to a party thrown by someone I considered a dear friend. I care about our friendship, so I was somewhat hurt–but I didn’t let that feeling linger inside. We are all seeking approval and validation of our likability, and the feeling of rejection can be incredibly powerful–if you let it. Don’t let any negative feedback bring you down, whether it’s coming from others or perhaps even yourself. Surround yourself with positive people, and give yourself encouragement, not reproach. Always speak to yourself the way you would to your own best friend–with honesty, but also empathy and love.
What do you think, dumplings? What are your tips for living your best life?
Also see: 6 Steps to Restoring Your Energy