Want to know how to enjoy life more? Some people believe that to enjoy life, they need to do things like:
- Earn more money
- Have the perfect relationship or friends
- Become well-respected or famous
However, plenty of people have these things and more and are still unhappy.
The Vietnamese monk and 'father of mindfulness,' Thích Nhất Hạnh, wrote, "So many conditions of happiness are available – more than enough for you to be happy right now."
But if there are already so many things to enjoy in life, why don't we enjoy every day?
Because learning how to enjoy life takes practice.
We need to cultivate a positive mindset, develop good habits, and fill our life with meaning. Still, there's probably no better skill to practice than learning how to enjoy life to the fullest, right?
Here are 20 things you can do to enjoy life more.
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1. Practice Gratitude
It's impossible to feel both grateful and unhappy at the same time. It's that simple. Try it and you'll see what I mean.
No wonder many scientific studies have found that being grateful can improve self-esteem, reduce negative emotions like envy, and reduce the risk of major depression. Grateful people also tend to take better care of their health, exercise more, sleep better, and have lower levels of stress hormones.
So, if you want to learn how to enjoy life, start practicing gratitude.
For example, you could start a gratitude journal or simply begin each day by writing down three things you're thankful for, such as, “Today, I am grateful for this nice cup of coffee in my hands, the book I’m reading that’s teaching me so much, and my adorable cat.”
2. Work on Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of being fully present and aware of where you are, who you're with, and what you're doing – without being distracted by thoughts, judgments, or emotions.
Or, as the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle puts it, "Wherever you are, be there totally."
When we learn how to enjoy the moment, we can become calm, focused, and happy.
To practice mindfulness, start by removing things that distract you from your environment, like social media, TV, and music. Then, quieten your thoughts by not paying attention to them and instead, focus your attention on your breathing.
You could also practice mindfulness by learning to enjoy the simple things in life, such as:
- Going for a walk in nature and observing the sights and sounds
- Doing some exercise and feeling your body
- Taking pleasure in the small things, like a cup of tea or a hot shower
3. Put Yourself First
It's hard to enjoy life every day if you never put your own needs first.
If you want to feel content and peaceful, you need time to relax, have fun, be productive, explore new things, and develop healthy relationships.
So, the next time someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, consider saying no. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be kind or help others. It just means that you need to take care of your own needs first.
Protect your time and energy. You deserve it.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
We all make mistakes and miss the mark sometimes. Be kind to yourself in these moments. Whatever has happened has happened. There's nothing you can do about the past except to learn from it. This could be incredibly tough in the beginning, but it gets easier with practice.
Look deeply, and you will discover that you deserve to be happy regardless of who you are, what you've done, or where you're going. You deserve to be happy just because you're alive.
Give yourself permission to be happy and at peace in this moment.
5. Rest and Recuperate
It's pretty challenging to learn how to enjoy life to the fullest if you're tired, burnt out, or stressed.
We all need time to rest and recuperate.
However, there's so much happening in the modern era – we have to work, study, do housework, keep up with COVID-19, manage our finances, take care of family, and more.
"It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing," writes Thích Nhất Hạnh. "Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems."
So, make time to learn how to relax and enjoy life.
For instance, you could take a quick nap, read a good book, go for a short walk, or even take a weekend trip somewhere quiet.
6. Celebrate Small Wins
These days, social media can fool us into believing that life is about hopping from one experience or achievement to another. But life is not made of achievements or experiences – it's made of the moments between them.
Don't just celebrate milestones – after all, they only happen once every mile. Instead, learn how to enjoy life by celebrating every step of the way.
For example, don't just enjoy the exam results and business profits – enjoy every hour spent studying and every happy customer you serve.
7. Invest in Yourself
Investing in our personal development is an act of self-love.
When we do this, we're prioritizing our wellbeing. We're also developing our self-awareness, which breeds self-compassion, acceptance, and happiness.
Look for ways to improve yourself, and enjoy the process.
For example, you could take a free online course, journal, workout, meditate, or read a self-development book.
8. Nurture Positive Relationships
Having positive relationships in our lives is essential to feeling truly happy and content.
In fact, the biggest study on happiness ever conducted found that "spending time with other people made study subjects happier on a day-to-day basis."
So, work on improving your relationships with your close friends and family.
To help, you may want to learn more about the five love languages, which are different ways people show and interpret love. Understanding both your and your loved ones' languages can help you to improve your relationships.
9. Meet New People
Not everyone has lots of close relationships in their lives. Plus, sometimes we can outgrow friendships and need to establish new connections to take their place.
Remember, community and connection are essential to our happiness and wellbeing.
That said, with COVID-19 forcing so many people to self-isolate, making new friends has only become more challenging. However, it's still possible to strike up new friendships online with the help of social media platforms, Facebook groups, and online course communities.
Start interacting with others online over a shared passion, and enjoy the refreshing perspectives and personalities that become part of your life.
10. Consume Less News and Social Media
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to enjoy life more is to reduce the negativity in our lives – and one of the simplest ways to do this is to consume less news and social media.
"It can be damaging to constantly be reading the news because constant exposure to negative information can impact our brain," says Annie Miller, MSW, LCSW-C, LICSW.
What's more, a new study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology concluded that social media causes negative effects on wellbeing – primarily depression and loneliness.
So, cut some of the negativity and save your attention for things that uplift you.
You could even use a tracking app to help you understand how you spend your time on social media and news sites.
11. Try New Things
Trying new things and exploring new places can invigorate our senses and expand our perspectives.
Is there something you've always wanted to do or learn? Is there somewhere you've always wanted to go?
Write a list of places you want to go, activities you want to do, and things you want to learn. Include some big things like becoming your own boss and small things like getting takeout from a restaurant you always see but have never visited.
Then, schedule some of these things in your calendar! Start small with quick wins and work your way up to the big-ticket items.
12. Get Rid of Clutter
You know what they say: 'Tidy space, tidy mind.'
It's no secret that a cluttered home can feel stressful and take longer to clean. On the other hand, clean and tidy spaces can help us feel calm and relaxed. Plus, we can earn extra money by selling our unwanted stuff.
13. Spend Money on Experiences, Not Possessions
Studies show that experiences make us happier than possessions.
Why? The initial happiness of acquiring something new fades over time. However, experiences continue to provide joy through memories.
So, next time you want to spend money to feel joy, why not spend the money on an unforgettable trip or experience instead?
And hey, if you're stuck for ideas during COVID-19, there's always Airbnb Online Experiences!
14. Exercise Regularly
Everyone knows that exercising improves health – but can it help us enjoy life today? You bet it can.
"Research demonstrates that exercise may be the most reliable happiness booster of all activities," writes positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness.
Whether you walk, run, lift weights, or play a sport, take some time each day to exercise and enjoy every day a little more.
15. Spend Time in Nature
Science has proven what we all intuitively know: Spending time in nature improves our health and happiness.
For example, one study found that walking in nature improves our mood and lowers cortisol levels – also known as 'the stress hormone.'
When you feel down, take a walk in the park, have a picnic with friends, read under a tree, or paint a landscape. Whatever you do, get back to nature more often.
16. Track Your Time
Sometimes, before we can learn how to enjoy life more, we first need to understand where our time goes.
If your days seem to be flying by and you're not enjoying them, keep a diary of your activities to track how you spend your time.
You may be surprised by what you discover.
When we become more conscious of how we spend our time, we can often find opportunities to reduce time-wasting activities and use the extra time to do things we enjoy.
17. Cultivate a Purpose
Without a meaningful purpose to help steer us, it can be challenging to feel secure, productive, and valued.
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, "It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something."
Whether you feel driven to help others, become the best person you can be, or combat climate change, try to develop a purpose to give yourself a direction and help you enjoy life more.
18. Contribute to Others
You can combine the positive effects of good relationships and a strong purpose by finding ways to contribute to others.
For example, you could volunteer for a local charity or help an elderly neighbor with chores. Look for opportunities on a website like VolunteerMatch or check out this list of virtual volunteer opportunities.
Alternatively, if you're tight on time, you could find small ways to help others each day. For example, you could donate items to charity, let someone in a rush go first at the grocery store checkout, or pick up a coffee and a sandwich for a less fortunate person.
19. Overcome Destructive Habits
It's pretty tough to learn how to enjoy life to the fullest while living under the dark cloud of a destructive habit or addiction.
Whether it's alcohol, procrastination, pornography, food, sugar, TV, social media, or gossiping, destructive habits are draining and bring out the worst in us.
Be honest with yourself about your vices and consider seeking help to overcome them.
It may take a while before those clouds start to clear, but you can be confident you'll enjoy your life more when they do.
20. Commit to Mastering Something
Learning something new can be fun and interesting, but the initial excitement can often wear off quickly.
On the other hand, there's a deep sense of joy, pride, and satisfaction when we learn to master something.
Whether it's playing the guitar, cooking, or running Facebook ad campaigns, you can find enjoyment in the process of slowly mastering a subject, skill, or hobby that interests you.
And hey, you never know where mastery may lead you!
Summary: How to Enjoy Your Life and Your Job
Learning how to enjoy life takes practice and effort, but the rewards will always be well worth the effort. Here are 20 things that you can practice to enjoy every day more:
- Practice gratitude
- Work on mindfulness
- Put yourself first
- Be kind to yourself
- Celebrate small wins
- Rest and recuperate
- Invest in yourself
- Nurture positive relationships
- Meet new people
- Consume less news and social media
- Try new things
- Get rid of clutter
- Spend money on experiences, not possessions
- Exercise regularly
- Spend more time in nature
- Track your time
- Cultivate a purpose
- Contribute to others
- Overcome destructive habits
- Commit to mastering something
How do you plan to practice enjoying life more? Do you have any tips on how to start enjoying life? Let us know in the comments below!
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