If you got a chance to catch my last blog about Fostering Happiness, today we are going to expand on that by getting more in-depth on the idea of inspired living and how to live more fully. If for any reason you missed that blog, go ahead and check that out first. 🙂
The ideology behind Positive Psychology focuses on how we, for the most part, are able to control our thoughts, feelings and emotions. With this, we have the ability to live a more full and meaningful life. But first you must explore and define what meaningful means to you and why living a meaningful life is worthwhile. To do this, ask yourselves:
- “Why am I doing this?”
- “Do I want to do this?” or “Does this bring me joy?”
- “What do I want to be doing?”
- “What is MY definition of success?”
The answers to the above questions may change day to day, year to year, or after any major life event. So don’t be confused or discouraged if you have asked yourself these questions before and today’s answers are different. Living a full and inspired life means making room for growth.
“For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” –Viktor E. Frankl (as cited in Nortje, 2021)
With your answers from above, consider the following suggestions from Vitelli (2018) as ways to start living more fully.
Engage in happiness-relevant activities
In order to be happy, we must do what makes us happy. Far too often, we become preoccupied with what society tells us we should be doing and end up ignoring the activities that bring us genuine pleasure. Find time to explore your own interests and hobbies and then regularly devote time to these activities.
Savor and simplify
Research has shown that people enjoy life more when they consume less, meaning we do not actually need the newest clothes, phones, toys. The typical materialistic mentality actually makes it harder to savor life experiences.
Focus on Others
While this may seem counter-intuitive, looking outward actually promotes a sense of satisfaction that cannot be found when buying things for yourself. Engage and invest back into your community. This does not have to mean grand gestures, it can be simply developing relationships with community members you interact with at local stores and events.
While passion is a form of self-identity, there needs to be a harmony in which it does not push away all other things that may also be important. Having harmony in passion spills over into other aspects of one’s life like improving interpersonal relationships, experiencing less pessimism, and higher energy.
There are many different forms of humor and each can meet a different need of ours.
- Affiliative humor; such as quips or jokes, defuses tension and can encourage interpersonal relationships by amusing others.
- Self-enhancing humor uses humor to relieve stress and maintain a cheerful outlook on life.
- Aggressive humor is aimed at putting down or demeaning others (ie. sarcasm, ridicule, teasing). This type of humor is negative and should be avoided when trying to focus on living a more meaningful life.
- Self-disparaging humor, poking fun at yourself to gain approval from other people, can make it easy to avoid any constructive solutions to a problem you might be facing. Therefore it too should not be used when focusing on living life fully.
Think with evidence
As previously mentioned, we have the ability to monitor our thinking patterns and to change. Therefore when we are noticing negative or irrational thinking patterns, we have the cognitive flexibility to make changes that help to negate the rigidity of thoughts that reinforce feelings of depression.
So often we are our own worst critics, beating ourselves up for mistakes that we would forgive, causing a double standard that undermines our self-esteem. Providing ourselves more grace, gives us space to grow, explore ourselves in new ways, and understand that in order to succeed sometimes we must fail.
Being present-focused and mindful
Oftentimes we get caught up in the “what ifs,” focusing more on what may happen in our futures that we forget to live in our present. However, we can learn to ground ourselves in the present with the help of many different mindfulness techniques. This will help us to have greater acceptance of what is without the irrational fears for the future.
Being uncomfortable and taking risks
Simply explore new things, activities you always wanted to try, things you never thought imaginable for yourself. Face your fears and expand your boundaries.
We are meant to be social beings and the quality of our relationships play an important role in how satisfied we feel we live. While “our society places a greater value on individuality than it does on being part of a greater community” (Vitelli, 2018), research consistently demonstrates that individuals with strong social connections are much healthier and live longer than those who are more isolated. Additionally, studies show that being in a committed relationship is correlated with protection against chronic stress, improvements in immune system functioning, and healing from injuries more rapidly.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou (as cited in Nortje, 2021)