If the year 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can never truly plan for the future. Life will always have curveballs we can’t prepare for, so perpetually chasing a mythical future where you’d be living a life you love may not be the best idea. People have wasted their best years living halfheartedly in search for happiness in unlikely places. However, the best way to be truly happy is to love the life you currently have– no matter what.
So how do you learn to fall in love with the life that you’re presently living? Here are some tips:
1. Love yourself
No matter how good things are going in your life, you will never appreciate it if you don’t love yourself. When things are great, love yourself enough to feel that you deserve everything good that’s happening to you. When things aren’t going so well, love yourself enough to not let the negativity consume you.
People come and go, and at the end of the day you’re the only person who has to live the life you created or will create for yourself. To love your life, you must first love the person living it.
2. Go by your own rules
Sometimes, we fail to see that we’re already living a life that’s making us happy simply because we still conform to society’s standards of happiness. For instance, women should not be made to feel like their lives are somehow incomplete until they get married and have kids. If your picture of a happy life only includes sunsets in beaches and weekend hikes with no children in tow, don’t let society ruin that for you. When you go by your own rules, you’d find it much easier to fall in love with your life.
3. Live in the moment
It’s pretty hard to appreciate a film if you miss half of it because you’re doing something or thinking about something else, right? The same goes for our lives. So many wonderful things happen in a single day but we miss most of it because we’re too busy — or at least our minds are. Once you’ve clocked out of work, stop checking work emails. If you’re away on vacation, do not answer work calls. When you’re having dinner with friends, take a few photos, then reserve the mindless social media scrolling for later, when you’re no longer with them. Bottomline: be present and live in the moment.
4. Celebrate small wins
There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself and setting great and lofty goals, but it can get tiring waiting for something grand to happen before you allow yourself a pat on the back to say ‘You’ve done well.’
Instead, celebrate small wins like cooking a decent steak or waking up early for a proper workout or finally finding a sunscreen that’s light enough for your sensitive skin. These things might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s these everyday wins that will keep you going and make you realize that life is beautiful and worth living.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Celebrating small wins is good, but letting small inconveniences affect your disposition is not: As Ted Mosby once said, “You may think that your only choices are to swallow your anger or throw it in someone’s face. But there is a third option — you can just let it go. And only when you do that is it really gone, and you can move forward.” Learning to love your life means being highly discriminating about letting things affect you. Your emotions are valuable, and you must reserve it for things that truly matter — and that doesn’t include the opinions of strangers or minor setbacks like a single impulse purchase.
6. Be your own best friend
Never depend on other people for your happiness. If none of your friends are free, take yourself out on dates. Go visit that museum you’ve been eyeing for months now but does not interest anyone else in your circle. Go see that indie film you like even if everyone else is pining to watch Hollywood’s latest offering. Book the trip to Thailand that you keep postponing just because your friends can’t make up their minds if they want to go. Be happy with your own company and there’d be no limits to what you can do.
7. Don’t wait for retirement to live your best life
Speaking of trips to Thailand, never feel like you have to postpone your dreams just because you’re at an age where everyone else is grinding and working nonstop for their retirement fund. By the time you’re ready to retire, your body won’t have the same capabilities it has now. What does a ski trip in Seoul sound like when you’re 26? Now, how about when you’re 62? If you don’t tick off some items on your bucket list now, you’ll never get around to all of it. You can’t be blamed for hating your life if all you do is delay gratification. Start living your best life today.
8. Set systems, not just goals
Goal-setting is an essential part of planning for your future, but the way to get there is to put systems in place to make sure everything you do is in service of these goals. If your goal is to one day join a triathlon, for instance, make sure your workout routine includes training for running, swimming, and cycling. If you fill your time with things that help you get one step closer to your goals every day, you’ll find yourself living with more zest and excitement.
9. Give time to your passion
In life, it’s sometimes inescapable to have to do things simply because you have to. Sometimes, you have to take a better paying job over another offer that may have made you happier, because you have no choice but to pay the bills. That’s okay. You don’t have to look for passion in everything you do. You just have to consciously dedicate time for your art, your baking, your gardening — anything that makes you feel good. It’s okay to stay in a job you don’t like, just because it pays well and allows you to work on your passion projects without going bankrupt. The balance is where happiness is.
10. Understand that your time is precious
In between working your main job, your passion projects, and doing things essential for survival like sleeping and eating, you would hardly have more time left. This is why you can’t waste time doing things you neither need to do nor love to do, or spending it with people who don’t appreciate your presence. You’ll love your life a lot more the moment you understand how precious every minute of it is.
11. Practice gratitude
Before you go to bed every night, no matter how you feel, list down five things that happened during the day that you are thankful for. It could be as grand as a pay raise or as simple as a 15-minute nap you got to take because you finished your tasks early. This simple exercise will help you gain a better perspective about how good life can actually be, and will help you fall asleep feeling good. Do this enough times and you will surely fall in love with your life.
12. Let life surprise you
As discussed earlier, life will always have its curveballs. Instead of resisting change, be open to letting life surprise you in its own mysterious ways. Some people end up hating life itself because they think it got in the way of their plans, but if you take everything in your stride and welcome life’s experiences with open arms, you’ll find that life does indeed have some wonderful surprises that could, in fact, change your own plans for the better.
13. Trust the process
Letting life surprise you is, at the core, trusting the process. This is why we said you shouldn’t chase a mythical future where you’d be living the life you love — because life is all about the process. If you love every step you take, it almost doesn’t matter if you like the destination because you’d have all these great stories to tell about the journey when you do eventually arrive.
14. Practise self-care
Self care is not just long baths in hot tubs and wrapping yourself in weighted blankets and relaxing. Self care is saying no when you don’t feel like doing something; it’s allowing yourself to accept help when things get too overwhelming; it’s taking a break from everything and everyone when you need to just be alone. Learning to love your life even when things are not going well is learning to prioritise what you, and you alone need.
15. Share the love around
The best and easiest way to multiply love is to spread it around. Be generous with compliments and make the people around you feel better about themselves. The positivity and good vibes will bounce back to you, no doubt. Besides, a world that’s a little kinder makes it easy for everyone to love the lives they have.
Learning to love your life is far from pretending that everything’s perfect. It is recognizing that things may not be perfect, and that they might never be, but learning to accept it the way it is and saying ‘that’s okay’. It’s understanding that with all its challenges, curveballs, and heartbreak, life will always, always be worth living.
Article by Bella Toledo Edited by Li-ling Ooi