Live the life I want to live.
That’s my big goal these days. When so many things are taken away from you, even for a relatively short period of time, it changes your perspective and makes you realize how important it is to be true to yourself. It’s not a selfish goal, or about living in the moment with a “do whatever I want, when I want” attitude. It’s about living consciously, and deliberately acting in ways that support my overall health and happiness.
So many people live life on autopilot. They have the same routine every day, without putting much thought into it. Wake up early, get on the bus/train/etc., go to work, come home, do something fun for an hour, fall asleep too late, then repeat. When you live this way five days a week, 48 weeks a year, it’s easy to see why so many of us feel unhealthy and unfulfilled.
It’s not enough to take care of ourselves when we happen to get the chance. I’ve learned that the hard way. The time you have is a reflection of your priorities, and it won’t just materialize – you have to create it. Living the life you’re meant to live is about prioritizing things that lead to a meaningful, healthy life.
Big decisions matter, everyday actions matter more
We’re taught to take the big decisions in life really seriously. Education, career, where to live – all these decisions are important, and should be made with thought and care. What we rarely hear about is something crucial to health and longevity – what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
You can have a prestigious degree, well-paying job, and live in the greatest city in the world. But if you don’t act in ways that lead you to happiness and fulfillment on a daily basis, you’ll eventually burn out. It’s important to recognize what our body and mind needs to thrive, and make sure we fill that bucket constantly.
Implementing a Daily Practice can be an effective way to keep yourself in check. Simply put, a Daily Practice is about developing positive habits that reinforce what matters to you, and repeating those habits every day. These habits should involve actions that give you energy, and keep you focused on becoming your best self. Whether it’s keeping a checklist, repeating a phrase throughout the day, or writing down the names of five people you’re thankful for, it’s entirely up to you. The important thing is to do it every day, as best you can.
My current Daily Practice is focused on grounding myself in the mindset of health, healing, and happiness. It involves a combination of meditative breathing, mindfulness, and fitness/rehab for my knee injury. I repeat various activities at the same time every morning and each night, with little reminders sprinkled throughout the day. The core thought I try to repeat is “Breathe… Relax.” As Roger Jahnke explains in his book The Healer Within, entering a relaxed state causes your brain to send positive healing neurotransmitters to your immune cells, as well as enhance the function of the circulatory system by expanding the size of your capillaries. Larger, more relaxed capillaries allow more nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to reach your tissues, organs, and glands, enhancing health and healing. Since healing is a primary focus for me, achieving relaxation is my ideal state.
Whatever your ideal state is, try to pick behaviors that keep you moving in the right direction. Whether spiritual, mental, or physical, it’s one of the best ways to keep you grounded every day. Successful people throughout history have implemented their own version of a Daily Practice (James Altucher’s is a personal favorite, and a modern-day inspiration), and it seems to be working for me so far. I have no doubt implementing my practices for the last several weeks have reduced my stress levels, and helped accelerate my healing process.
Living for the weekend isn’t really living
One of the more bizarre and backward norms in modern culture is how we organize our lives to live for the weekend. How many times do you hear the phrase “Happy Friday” or “Hump Day” or “TGIF” in a given week? Probably way too many. These are all social scripts that imply five days in the middle of the week aren’t as good as two days on the weekend. This thinking makes it socially acceptable to spend your weekdays in such anticipation of the weekend, you forget to experience each day on its own.
Do you think Ben Franklin, Socrates, or Steve Jobs willingly gave up experiencing each day as a unique opportunity to live? Do you think Oprah, Bill Gates, or Tim Ferriss allow a distinction between “weekday” and “weekend” to determine their outlook on life every morning? Why should we let arbitrary markers determine when it’s okay to live and be happy, when the most enlightened and successful thinkers, leaders, and entrepreneurs of all time have never done so?
Let’s make a deal, right now. Just you and me.
The weekend is not inherently better than every other day in the week. I pledge to stop reinforcing this idea.
Sound good? Cool, thanks for your help.
You can still feel alive each day even if you don’t like your job, are under stress, or have a long commute. Life happens, and I’m not trying to pretend it’s all easy. What is important is knowing you control the way you feel. You choose when you wake up in the morning, what you eat, and the kinds of physical activity you participate in. You can take steps to clear your mind, think more positively, and consciously determine who you surround yourself with. The better you feel, the more alive you are.
My suggestion is to take some time to slow down, reflect, and get to know yourself. Take just five minutes a day to sit still and breathe. Relax. Through this process you’ll understand exactly what your body and mind needs to feel nourished and alive. Then you’ll have the power to take action, and look forward to living every day of the week.
Believe me, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of the daily grind and letting weekdays fly by. I did the same thing for years. But I just made a pact with you, so I’m done with that. No more behaving like a zoo animal, I want to live like a human.
It’s kind of crazy to think how similar we are to caged animals in a zoo. We live in buildings with artificial light, eat chemically created food that’s far from optimal for our biology, and lead mostly sedentary lives. We do what our “masters” say because we’re told what’s good for us and what’s not, largely without questioning its validity.
This no longer makes sense to me. I’ve taken the red pill, and can’t look back. Sitting on the sidelines with an injury has forced me to see how detrimental our lifestyles are to our true nature. This became clear when I realized I wasn’t craving almost anything a typical workday entails. That’s when I knew I was doing it wrong. Waking up tired, sitting at a desk all day, commuting to work in single file, and returning home to eat dinner in front of the TV wasn’t what I missed. I craved the freedom to be out and about, to enjoy sunlight and fresh air, to sit in a cafe and physically interact with people, and have my head hit the pillow at night feeling tired and fulfilled from a day’s worth of physical activity.
I refuse to return to the old way of taking certain days for granted, just because of the structures around us. I want to live life fully, and am on the path to figuring out what that means for me. I want to make conscious decisions, every day, that enhance my quality of life.
I want to live on purpose.
Do you have a Daily Practice, or ideas you’d like to implement to improve your health and happiness? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.