This week, I have been inspired to share with you all some points I believe to be important when wanting to achieve a life of happiness and meaning.
1. Get out of your comfort zone, and be challenged.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
People are often afraid of what they don’t know or understand; that is a basic human emotion. However, where might we be today if someone out there didn’t perform an unthinkable act or ask themselves “why”? We wouldn’t have or understand half of the things that we have or know today.
Comfort may feel nice, but are you truly living up to your potential if you aren’t trying all that the world has to offer? It could be as small as trying a new food or as big as moving to another state or country? Whatever it is, do it. Being in a constant state of comfort makes one complacent, and quite frankly boring.
So, what happens when you break from your comfort zone?
You’ll be more productive. Comfort kills productivity because without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to do the minimum required to get by. We lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things. Pushing your personal boundaries can help you hit your stride sooner, get more done, and find smarter ways to work.
You’ll have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes. By taking risks in a controlled fashion and challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn’t do, you can experience some of that uncertainty in a controlled, manageable environment. Learning to live outside your comfort zone when you choose to can prep you for life changes that force you out of it. You’ll find it easier to push your boundaries in the future.
You’ll also find it easier to brainstorm and harness your creativity. It’s fairly common knowledge that seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way that little else does. Trying new things can make us reflect on our old ideas and where they clash with our new knowledge, and inspire us to learn more and challenge comfirmation bias, our tendency to only seek out information we already agree with. Even in the short term, a positively uncomfortable experience can help us brainstorm, see old problems in a new light, and tackle the challenges we face with new energy.
2. Stay guided by your values, not your necessities.
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
It’s important to have standards. Without them, we have no moral compass, and subsequently entertain thoughts or engage in activities that are otherwise unhealthy to our physical and emotional beings. It’s never hard to make a decision about certain difficulties in your life when you are guided by your values.
Relationships and dating, for instance, are a very important piece of the young adult puzzle. According to psychologist Erik Erikson, intimacy versus isolation is the key conflict in those aged 21 to 39. In this stage, Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed relationships with other people. Those who are successful at this step will form relationships that are enduring and secure. Erikson believed that a strong sense of personal identity was important for developing intimate relationships. Studies have demonstrated that those with a poor sense of self do tend to have less committed relationships and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression. Successful resolution of this stage results in the virtue known as love. It is marked by the ability to form lasting, meaningful relationships with other people.
Oftentimes, young adults, especially young women, tend to objectify themselves in order to seek the approval of another. In today’s digital age, many young people idolize the superficial aspects of the opposite sex, subsequently wanting to emulate what they see thinking that by straying from their standards, they will gain the approval of others. What many of them fail to realize is that by deviating from their morals, they have, in fact, lost part of themselves.
3. Focus on milestones.
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” – Proverbs 4:25
When you reflect on your life, the milestones will be the things that stand out. They will be the things that you are most proud of. These include things such as family, relationships, meaningful work, education, adventure, etc. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t focus on other things, because you can, but those minor things shouldn’t take precedent over the other, more important things. If you want to live a meaningful life, focus on those things that aren’t so temporary.
In my life, I’ve gone through periods of intense, driven productivity – months where everything fell into place, and my goals almost seemed to accomplish themselves. At the other extreme, there have been times in my life where I was completely overwhelmed, burdened by my different projects and responsibilities – and frustrated because so many of them not only challenged me, but didn’t matter to me. There were days when I asked myself how did I end up here? How did I end up working on all these things that aren’t who I am, and that don’t represent where I am going?
Some of our projects are extremely important to us, some matter a little, and some simply don’t matter to us at all. It’s important to learn how to define and focus on what truly matters, and leave the rest behind.
4. When given the choice between “more stuff” and “more experience”, choose the latter.
“And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”” – Luke 12:15
Even though it may not seem so at the moment, everything is not about money. A life spent in unrelenting pursuit of rich experiences will usually have a much better payoff than one seeking the latest gadget. Sure, as young adults, we want to build financially in order to become stable in the years to come. However, when you allow money to limit your life experiences or opportunities, that’s when you can truly be held back.
Television, movies, social media and celebrities are all vehicles for advertisement. These advertisers have one objective, and it’s a financial one. Instead of portraying quality time spent with family, expensive material objects are viewed as a must-have, even if it means going into debt to obtain it.
Material items give people a sense of satisfaction simply because they’re tangible and usually have a set price. Memories, however, are much more difficult to measure with money. Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experience.
Happiness means something different to everyone, of course, but it’s an emotion or feeling that should be felt by all, and how you achieve it should come from within and not what you see on TV or social media.
5. Curate your life.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
As of late, this has been the thing that I have had to focus on intensely. Your life will largely be defined by what you allow in and what you keep out. Choose everything—friends, hobbies, work, philanthropy, clothes, vacations, meals, gadgets, books, etc.—with a discerning eye. Be a tough curator and you’ll have an interesting life.
Lately, I have met some wonderful people, of whom I have much in common and enjoy company. However, I have also have had to come of the realization that not everyone who comes into my life is meant to stay, whether it’s a friend, significant other, or perhaps even a family member. At the end of the day, you must make the decision whether to live a life of happiness, or one of constant conflict. So often do I see young men and women complaining over things that they have full control over. If you don’t favor someone, let them go. If someone is treating you less than you deserve, let them go. There is negativity all around us; that, we cannot avoid. However, it is what we dwell on that creates in us positivity. One of the biggest reasons why we aren’t happy is because we don’t know how to let go of the things that are getting in the way of our happiness. It takes a strong person to discern what is good to you is good for you…and there is a difference between the two.
Engage in activities that challenge you and build character. Become knowledgeable and curious about the things of the world. Do something that challenges your physical and mental beings. Build relationships with people who have similar focuses, who take the time to encourage and uplift you, who support you and are not petty in their ways towards you.
(Almost) every aspect of your life can be controlled by you; it’s just a matter of taking the reigns.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Stay tuned for more.