We only have so much time on this earth. During that time, we have to make the most of each experience that comes our way. While we all experience life—and ultimately, death, as well–, we do not always live our lives to the fullest. To be completely fulfilled, you have to have a purpose in life and work toward it. This purpose can be with your relationships, your work or your goals in life. Each person has a different purpose in life, so the way you live your life to the fullest can vary greatly from what someone else has to do to be happy.
As we just mentioned, living life to the fullest can vary from person to person. Often, people mean that living life to the fullest means to be happy and to enjoy life. For some, this can be finding pleasure in the little things. If you take time to meditate every day, you will find yourself noticing all of the little things that make life more beautiful. Often, living life to the fullest means taking advantage of the experiences that come your way. A new car or a new house is always nice, but these changes won’t really bring you lasting happiness.
What Do You Do to Accomplish a Happy, Fulfilled Life?
While the definition of living life to the fullest varies from person to person, there are a few common changes that can make you happier. We have compiled a list of the things that you can do to live a healthy, happy, fulfilled life.
1. Be Kind to the People Around You
When it comes time to die, you won’t regret the car or the new clothes that you did not buy. You will regret the time that you did not spend with your loved ones and missed chances for making the world a better place. Imagine that you are on your death bed. If you spent your life volunteering with at-risk youth or working to end homelessness, how will you feel? Will you feel like your life had a deeper meaning or purpose?
Paying it forward helps other people, but it also helps yourself. Studies have found that people who volunteer and help the people around them are happier and more satisfied with their lives. Generosity can also be contagious. In research studies, scientists found that someone who receives generosity or kindness is more likely to pay it forward. By helping other people, you are basically setting up a cycle of generosity that will end up helping more people than you could ever help on your own.
2. Break Up Already
Your relationship is one of the key determinants in how happy you are in life. Couples who have good relationships report being satisfied with their life and happy. If you are in a bad relationship, then it is time that you end it. You may be briefly unhappy and depressed after the relationship ends, but you will ultimately end up happier.
A bad relationship can cause emotional damage over time. It increases the amount of stress and worry that you deal with on a daily basis. Worse still, your life is just too short to spend it in an unhappy relationship. Once you know what you want out of your life and your relationships, go for it. If someone only adds stress and negativity to your life, they probably should not be a part of it.
3. Take Care of Your Mental Health
Thinking positively can help you feel happier and make positive changes to your life. Likewise, negative thoughts will make you less happy. Worries and stress cause your body to reach cortisol. In addition to making you less happy, your stress can also take a toll on your body. Cortisol can ruin your appetite, hurt your body and make it harder to be happy.
Even if you have a stressful job that you cannot leave, there are ways to reduce the stress. Meditation is found to help people feel happier, more positive and less stressed out. Through meditation, you learn to see that each situation can be reacted to, and your reaction determines how happy you are. While bad things will surely happen, you can change how they affect your life by changing your reaction to them.
4. Balance Your Work and the Rest of Your Life
When it comes time to die, will you feel happier knowing that you spent every waking hour at the office? Probably not. To feel fulfilled, you need to focus on facets of your life that occur outside of work. Develop a work-life balance that allows you to enjoy your hobbies and spend time with your loved ones. Another promotion or raise will always be there, but your mental health and happiness will not. Take steps now to live a life of balance and harmony.
5. Take a Vacation
As a corollary to the last step, consider taking a vacation. Many people work their whole lives with the goal of taking a dream vacation when they retire. By the time their retirement actually arrives, they find that they are not healthy enough to go or are tied down by other responsibilities. You never know how long you have on this earth, so take that vacation that you have been dreaming of. In research studies, people who were planning a vacation received a boost of happiness. This happiness boost lasted for a full eight weeks as they counted down the days to their vacation. Plus, you end up making memories and living your life to the fullest for your entire vacation.
If you cannot afford your dream vacation, get creative. There are alternative options that can make you happier. Camping is a cheap option, and national forests often allow you to camp for free if you camp outside of an actual campground. Plus, being in nature has been found to lower stress and boost happiness.
6. Enjoy the Natural World
In one research study, doctors looked at how quickly patients recovered from surgery depending on where they were. A patient with a window looking out on a forest recovered faster than a patient looking at a picture of the woods. Someone with a picture of the woods recovered faster than someone in an empty, sterile hospital room. In Japan, there is even a culture developing around taking forest strolls. Being in nature has been shown to lower stress, make you feel more peaceful and boost happiness levels. Plus, you will produce endorphins by getting exercise, so you will get an additional mood booster.
7. Go for What You Want
Whether you are afraid of failure or success, your fears may be preventing you from living life to the fullest. You have (or had) dreams, passions and goals that you wanted to accomplish. What is stopping you from doing them? We each have the ability to determine our own purpose in life. What is your purpose? If working a 9-to-5 job is your dream, do it. If not, find a way to accomplish your dreams in life. Start a business selling your hobby online or spend your weekends playing in the band that you don’t think will make it big. Whatever you do, focus on what you want in life and then find a way to make it happen.
8. Get Rid of Your Phone
While you don’t have to get rid of your phone, you should put it down from time to time. Research studies show that people who spend more time on Facebook are less likely to be happy. While there are some great apps out there, most of them will not genuinely add to your happiness level. Human beings were not intended to spend their time staring at a small screen. They were meant to experience life, enjoy nature and develop close relationships with the people around them. If your phone or laptop is getting in the way of these things, start limiting the time you spend on them.
9. Be a Child Again
When you were a child, a trip to the ice cream parlor was the highlight of your week. Discovering a tadpole was enough to leave you jumping up and down for joy. While you do not have to regress to your childhood mind completely, you can learn from it. Take pleasure in the little things and find joy in your day-to-day existence. Personally, I find myself forgetting this step until I take a walk with my dog. While I am focused on a problem at work, he looks back at me with this dopey grin as if to say, “Isn’t life just great?” Seeing his grin, I agree. Life is just great; I just have to remember to look around me every once in a while.
10. Get a Pet
If you want to be happier, get a pet. Studies of elderly people show that they are happier and more fulfilled when they have a pet of some type. As I mentioned in the last step, a pet can also be a reminder of the simple joys in life as well as a hiking companion.