4 Ways to Enjoy Life More – Part 1

by | Dec 4, 2023 | Personal Development

Today’s article was inspired by my mum having a downer on herself. I’m visiting this weekend, and on Sunday, Mum got up, applied her make-up twice and still declared how much she hated how she looked and being old.

The truth is that Mum, at 85, is a tad old, but she is beautiful in my eyes and the eyes of everyone around her. She can’t see it and has never seen it. I have spent my life looking up to the beautiful woman (inside and out) that is my mum. She always looks beautiful. Once, while shopping, the manager came over and told her she was beautiful. I stood bemused, face naked by her side… Er, excuse me, what about me?

I know why she is having a downer, but that is private. What I can tell you is that she has suffered from people like her mum saying things things about her face – she had acne. Some mothers can be very cruel.

Another time, in an interview for BHS, the woman asked what the things on her face were and then gave her a role at the beauty counter. Mmm really.

And she is so mad with the skin doctor, who she is convinced deliberately made a wrinkle longer when he cut out the ‘thing’ in her face.

She’s often sad about how she looks because of the past and because fractures from osteoporosis have distorted her body. But she always looks lovely and chooses colours and clothes to suit her. She always looks elegant. Growing up, she would dress up on Saturday night in all her glam. I thought she looked like a film star.

And sometimes, this gets her down, especially when other things are going on that she can’t control. It sucks the enjoyment out of life. Of course, it does.

Mum is not alone in not appreciating who she is; I guess it gets harder as one ages and the bloom of youth fades. I am ‘trying’ not to let things like age bother me, to accept it as what it is, and to enjoy what I have and the wisdom I have gained. I earned these experience lines, I can tell you…

Then, there is a whirlwind of daily routines, challenges, and the often overwhelming barrage of negative news (I keep the news off). This constant exposure can make us feel fed up, questioning the joy, sheer thingy of life and the dreams the purple unicorn offered us.

Recognising that feeling this way is normal and a natural response to life is important.

However, amidst these challenges lies a powerful tool for transformation: the art of reframing and seeing things from a different perspective. This is not meant in the rosy hue of toxic positivity but simply as a tool which can be useful.

Reframing is about shifting how we perceive our experiences. It’s not about dismissing our struggles or pretending that everything is fine when it isn’t.

You are allowed to cuss when things naff you off.

Instead, it’s about looking at the same circumstances through a new lens that highlights possibilities, learning opportunities, and new pathways. This shift in perspective can often reveal that situations may not be as dire as they initially appear. It allows us to find silver linings, learn from our experiences, and move forward with a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

However, it’s equally important to acknowledge when these techniques are not enough. If you find that, despite your best efforts, things are not changing, and your quality of life is being impacted, it might be time to seek professional support.

Reaching out to a therapist or counsellor is not a sign of weakness but a brave step towards taking control of your happiness and well-being. I’ve found EMDR particularly useful. In these moments, remember that you are not alone; help is available to guide you on this adventure called life.

What I said to Mum in response to the evil wrinkle is that she is alive, and she no longer has the thing on her face. So she can enjoy her life when many have been denied this privilege.

She knows but is still not impressed with an extra long wrinkle…

Despite the dire outlook you may experience because of something going on, life is not supposed to be a never-ending nightmare of bad news, tragedy, and hard knocks. However, sometimes it seems that’s all there is.

How can you start to enjoy your life? Here are a few thoughts, and in light of my mum and her worries, the first is to be your own best friend.

Enjoy Life By Being Your Own Best Friend

I’ve chosen this first because I think we need to remember to do this when we are having a downer on ourselves. So many times, we are nicer to our friends and family than we are to ourselves. The thing is, each of us is truly alone. That isn’t meant to be depressing, but the idea that you need someone else to prop you up and make you feel good about life is not true. You can feel in love with life even when it’s just you because, ultimately, it’s always just you, even when surrounded by fabulous friends, family and furry ones.

In this adventure called Life On Earth and the quest to lead a more fulfilling life, one of the most transformative steps you can take is to become your best friend. This concept goes beyond self-care; it’s about developing a relationship with yourself that’s rooted in kindness, compassion, self-love, understanding, and unwavering support.

Treating yourself with the same compassion and respect you would offer a dear friend lays the foundation for a more positive and resilient mindset, essential for reframing your perspective and finding joy in everyday life.

It’s a hard ask, isn’t it, when we spend so long making sure others are okay?

Embracing Self-Compassion

Being your own best friend starts with self-compassion. It’s about acknowledging your feelings, forgiving your mistakes, and celebrating your successes, no matter how small. Self-compassion helps to create a nurturing inner dialogue, replacing self-criticism with encouragement and understanding. This shift is crucial for reframing how you view life, challenges and those dratted wrinkles. Instead of being harsh and critical towards yourself during tough times, you learn to offer words of encouragement and support, just as a best friend would.

I’ve said before that after years of avoiding the mirror, I look into my eyes each day and acknowledge how brave I have been. I always end up with a smile on my face.

Cultivating a Positive Inner Voice

Your inner voice can be your greatest ally or your worst critic. To be your own best friend, it’s essential to cultivate a positive and supportive inner voice. No more, silly cows, or for god’s sake, you’ve done it again.

Instead of spiralling into negative self-talk, try reframing your thoughts when faced with difficulties or failures. For instance, instead of thinking, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard,” tell yourself, “This is challenging, but I can tackle it one step at a time.” This positive reinforcement boosts your morale and opens your mind to new possibilities and solutions.

Turn your I can’t into I cans or your I look a mess into. I may feel I look like a mess today, but I am normally a beautiful goddess. Okay, maybe not the last one – I use it, and it makes me laugh.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Just as a good friend respects your boundaries, you need to do the same for yourself. Setting healthy boundaries with others is crucial, but it’s equally important to set boundaries for yourself. This means giving yourself permission to say no to overcommitting, taking time for self-care, and not pushing yourself to the point of burnout. Burnout is not a pretty place to be.

When you honour and respect your limits, you show yourself respect and value your well-being, which in turn enhances your ability to enjoy life.

Engaging in Joyful Activities

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to be your own best friend is to regularly engage in activities that bring you joy. Whether it’s a hobby, exercise, or just quiet time with a book, doing things you love is a form of self-respect and appreciation. It’s a reminder that you deserve happiness and that your interests and passions are worth pursuing.

This practice brings immediate pleasure and reinforces a positive mindset, making it easier to find joy in other aspects of life. Have you created a passion project yet?

Ask For Help

Finally, being your own best friend means recognising when you need help and not hesitating to ask for it. Just as you would advise a friend to get support when they’re struggling, you should do the same for yourself. Whether talking to a trusted friend or seeking professional help, getting support is a sign of strength.

Do Things That Bring You Joy

Does the idea of carving out time for yourself feel foreign? Or doing things just for the joy of them feels alien. I think many of us feel that it is not valuable unless we are being productive and contributing. But your value doesn’t only depend on how much you produce and how much energy you expend doing things. Your value also can be expressed through the joyful things that you do.

Every day, do something that makes you smile, laugh, and cry with happiness. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hike in the woods, a bungee jump (er, no thanks), or if you want to sit in a hammock and read a book for an hour – doing things that fill your heart and mind with joy is important for your happiness.

My simple joys are walking my furry children. Or cuddling them on the sofa.

Joyful activities do illuminate a path to a more positive mindset. When we commit to doing things that make us genuinely happy, we shift our focus from life’s stressors and uncertainties to its pleasures and certainties. This shift is not about ignoring the complexities of life but about balancing them with moments of joy and contentment.

By regularly engaging in activities that bring us happiness, whether painting, hiking, cooking, or simply reading a book in a peaceful corner, we offer ourselves a refuge from the relentless pace of daily life.

Moreover, these joyful pursuits act as a lens through which we can reframe our perspective. In moments of joy, we are reminded of the beauty and richness of life, which often gets overshadowed by our worries and responsibilities. This reminder helps us to see our challenges in a new light. What once seemed insurmountable may now appear manageable; what was once a source of stress can transform into an opportunity for growth.

Engaging in joyful activities also creates a sense of gratitude. When immersed in something we love, we are more likely to appreciate the present moment and feel thankful for our opportunities. This sense of gratitude is a powerful antidote to feelings of discontent and frustration.

However, joy is a personal and unique experience. What brings joy to one person may not have the same effect on another. Therefore, exploring and identifying what truly makes you happy is important. It could be something as simple as a morning walk, a coffee with a friend, or an hour spent in the garden. The key is to make these activities a regular part of your life.

And when I do these simple things just for the pleasure of them, I also gain inner peace – which is so important to me.

Become Mindful of The Power of Now

In the now, we find the joy of living. One of the problems with life is most of us are always thinking about the past or the future. However, your life is right now. Right now, it is truly all you can be certain of having. Because of this, you need to realise the power of now and become more mindful about truly and fully experiencing the moments in your life.

My mum often feels wistful about what could have been. She is not alone. Many people regret what they could have done or been. I’ve given up looking back. There’s been a lot of pain and trauma. Yes, I’ve done a lot of healing, but one of my biggest lessons has been what a waste of time it is not enjoying what is right in front of you now.

While, of course, you do have to take small steps today to take care of your future, you don’t need to live only for the future to genuinely enjoy your life. You need to live for now while planning for the future.

The concept of “The Power of Now” is a great reminder to understand how to reframe our perspectives and refocus on enjoying life more. At its core, this idea emphasises the immense value and potential in the present moment, a concept often overlooked while looking for the next shiny thing to add to our shiny things collection.

Living in the now requires us to shift our focus away from past regrets and future anxieties. The past, with its unchangeable events and lessons, often traps us in a cycle of what-ifs and should-haves. The future, while important for planning and goals, can become a source of endless worry and speculation. By centring ourselves in the present, we acknowledge and accept our current situation, opening the door to a deeper appreciation of life as it unfolds and flows.

This mindfulness in the present moment is a powerful tool for reframing our perspective. When we are truly present, we start to notice the smaller details and joys of life that we typically overlook. The beauty in a sunrise, your dog’s antics, and the peace of a quiet moment can offer immense joy, contentment and inner peace. By appreciating what we have in the here and now, we combat the negativity bias that often clouds our view of life.

Additionally, the Power of Now teaches us to fully engage with our experiences. When we are completely present, our experiences become richer and more meaningful. This engagement can lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves.

And by focusing on the now, we empower ourselves to take action. The present is the only time we truly have control over. By acting now, we can influence our future, make meaningful changes, and pursue the things that bring us joy and whatever is meaningful to us.

However, it’s important to remember that while focusing on the now is beneficial, it’s not a panacea for all of life’s challenges. It’s a practice, a perspective shift that needs nurturing and patience. It doesn’t mean ignoring the past or future but rather finding a balanced approach where the present moment gets the attention and appreciation it deserves.

My gratitude practice has taught me how much I appreciate the simple things and what is happening in the now.

Join a Community of Like-Minded People

Humans, by nature, are social beings. Our need to belong and connect with others plays a critical role in our mental and emotional well-being. I adore being alone. I’m happy in my own company, but I still feel the need to belong somewhere.

I enjoy communities that give me social interaction, network opportunities, and a place for support and personal growth.

When you immerse yourself in a community that shares your interests, values, or aspirations, you are immediately surrounded by a network of individuals who understand your perspective. This shared understanding creates a nurturing environment where ideas and experiences are encouraged and freely exchanged.

Within such a community, you can find encouragement, inspiration, and the collective wisdom of experiences different from yours.

This sense of belonging can be incredibly powerful in reframing your perspective on life. In times of challenge, struggle or doubt, a supportive community can offer new viewpoints and coping strategies. Witnessing how others navigate challenges and embracing their varied approaches can help you see your situation in a new light. It’s an opportunity to learn from others’ successes and setbacks, giving you a broader, more balanced view of life’s ups and downs.

I am often humbled by other’s experiences and their courage. Despite my own challenges, I do think, there but for the grace of god go I. That’s not to diminish my challenges but to appreciate the other brave souls around me.

Being part of a community can be a constant reminder that you are not alone in this thing called life. Whether you’re celebrating successes or navigating challenges, there’s great comfort in knowing there are others who share your journey. This camaraderie becomes a source of strength, encouraging resilience during tough times and amplifying joy during good ones.

Communities offer an environment of mutual support and understanding. This can be particularly beneficial in those moments when life feels overwhelming. In a community, there’s always someone to turn to – someone to listen, hold space, witness, and provide a comforting presence.

I thought about these things when I created Learning To Fly. I asked myself what kind of place I would like to hang out that would let me and others step outside our individual struggles, gain new perspectives, celebrate shared joys, and navigate life’s complexities together.

Community is about finding your tribe – a group where you can be authentic, grow, and, most importantly, rediscover the joy and beauty of life.

I’ll share more another day. But for today, cogitate on these, and if you only do one thing today – be your best friend. Say no to what you don’t want, yes to things that fill your heart, tell the git who is tormenting you to sod off and get a life, let someone in the queue of traffic and smile – it will make you feel good.

Let your journal be a mirror reflecting your true self, unfiltered and raw, capturing the essence of your journey through life.

Dale Darley