A grandiose title indeed. And one we see on every magazine cover and self-help article. Today, yes, just today March 23rd 2016, I attended a seminar titled "Strategies For Dealing With Life's Challenges" with my good friend, Chloe. Following my candid post a few days ago (read here), I've taken some time to reconsider the state of my life. #TheStrugglesOfBeingTwentyFive
I've been thinking about whether or not we can actually design a life we love. Is a good quality life a factor of our own doing or are we bound to fate, the flow of nature and if you're religious, the plan of God?
Existential questions indeed. And some we might never fully answer, but today's seminar gave me some "aha! moments" that I thought were worth a share.
Here's what I'm learning:
1. Life is made up of days.
Let me explain. Of course life is made up of days. We all know that. We can go on to say days are made up of hours, hours of minutes, etcetera etcetera. But if we take a step back, if we really take time to reflect on what this means, this is a profound truth of life. If life is made up of days then how we choose to live our lives, on a daily basis, will in turn become the fragrance of our existence. The quality of our lives is determined by choices we make (or don't make) on a daily basis and our attitudes towards our seemingly mundane tasks and responsibilities. If we spend 70% of our days wishing we were not a work or at school, that translates to a major portion of our lives spent complaining. Argh! Even that was laborious to type out! Life is made up of days. And our days become the story of our existence.
2. Life is not the sum of a series of grand events.
Like graduation, or an engagement or your wedding or the loss of a loved one. While momentous occasions in our lives can leave an impression on how we choose to define ourselves, life is made of the seemingly mundane events that we often ignore or play down. For example, if you had a quick moment of internet fame, you might come to be known as "Oh that girl who won that award" but the truth is, you might also be a student, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a co-worker. All of these aspects of your being make up who you are. You're more than what happens in the spotlight. You're your thoughts, you're the actions no one sees behind the scenes.
In light of these realities, here's what I've learnt about designing a life you love:
1. Take things a day at a time.
Plan out your free time. Think about how you spend those precious 16 or so hours outside of work or school. Do you often read a book? Watch your fave series on Netflix? Spend hours on Instagram feeling sorry for yourself? No really, how do you spend your free time, everyday? Maybe keep a record of your activities for week. See how you go. Is there room to switch up old habits to improve your mental and emotional health?
2. Set time aside each day to self-soothe.
I learnt this today. Now this is powerful, because I'm a very resilient person, #Hustler and so I can work for ages without taking a break. But this trait can be unhealthy. So now I'm taking time each day to heal. From that hurtful comment my friend unknowingly made. From that feeling of incompetency when I got marked down on my work. Setting time aside to self-soothe involves reflection but also actions that relax you. Maybe drink some spiced tea? Maybe spend 5 minutes watching the sunset. Breathe. Feel. Let go. Leave behind each day's worries.
3. Exercise daily.
Get your blood flowing. Maybe practise some yoga or take a longer walking route home rather than the train or bus. Maybe do some squats over your lunch break. Jump up and down. Lift your hands above your head. Bend down and stretch your back. Feel your body in action. Heart rate up, heart rate down. At rest and in motion. Give thanks for every inch of flesh and muscle that's brought you to this very moment.
4. Eat healthy.
And yummy. Plan your meals. Rather than go hungry the entire day and snack on lollies, take time to think about how you fuel your body. Throw in a few more greens. Kale, Spinach, Lettuce. Have a smoothie rather than a coke. Maybe skip that daily dose of chocolate at 4PM. Nurture your body. See this post here for some of my favorite power foods.
5. Be more organised.
Keep a diary. Note down when your bills and appointments are due. Set time aside to plan your next moves. I know we're not all meticulous planners, but being organised saves us from the rush of life. Needing a little motivation? Get a cute diary/notebook with inspirational quotes. The sooner you start jotting things down, the more seamless your day will be.
6. Switch up your morning routine.
I've come to realise my mornings can be pretty hectic. I'm a morning person, so I tend to pack in 1000 activities between 5AM and 9AM. This is not always the healthiest decision, because then my day feels a lot more stressed. I've recently switched things up and shifted some of my activities to later on in the day. I already feel lots more relaxed and prepared to deal with any challenges I may face during the day.
7. Ask for help.
This is not a sign of weakness. Consult. Seek wisdom. Read blogs. Google it. Speak with a life coach, your aunt, your pastor. We don't have it all figured out. We're better off seeking the advise of those who've lived more days than we have.
8. Rest regularly.
Sleep. Let your body rest. Let your body repair itself. Heal. Take time off your screens and off social media, to relax. Listen to your own thoughts. Hear your own voice.
9. Build a social support circle.
Invite people to walk through life with you. If you've lived the type of life I've lived with lots of moves and many goodbyes, you might be a little scarred. That's okay. You might have other reasons too why you're a little shy. That's okay. Start by making one friend, then make a few more as time goes by. Life is best lived with people.
10. Celebrate your existence.
This is one of my values here on the blog and in my life. Celebrate life. Whatever it throws at you. Hard times and good, this is life. This is where we're at. The history of the universe has boiled down to this very moment. This very second. Celebrating my existence to me, means exactly this: patting myself on the back for every small and large victory, remaining positive and hopeful in the midst of challenges and spreading love and sunshine to those around me.
Many thanks to Zoolu Bags for graciously sending me this GORGEOUS handbag!! It's super chic and unique!! Feel free to check them out on Instagram by clicking here. Also, suss their website by clicking here. They're Australian based and ship internationally!! Whoop whoop!!
How do you confront life's challenges? How do you design a life you love? Leave me a note down below, I'd love to know!
LOVE, MORE LOVE & LOTS OF SUNSHINE!