My mantra is: “Life is an art form, design it your own way.” I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, and while it hasn’t been without risk, challenges, and mistakes, one thing has been consistent: I’ve always had a high level of life satisfaction. No matter what the circumstances my faith, strength, and optimism is unwavering -largely because of the 10 lifestyle choices I’m about to discuss below. Life tends to throw curve balls, but all that matters is your commitment to making healthy choices regardless of adversity.
When I launched StyleFox (2 years ago on July 4th, woo!) I wanted to be able to share my experiences with others. My mistakes, my accomplishments, and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I spend a great deal of time reading and one of my favorite subjects is people. I love to read about the lives of successful entrepreneurs and leaders. One constant theme I found is that they all took their own path. There was no “one size fits all” road to their success/happiness, but there were several on-going themes that resonated with me and my own journey. I found that many of the people who also had a high level of life satisfaction were making several similar life choices, including choosing a career they were passionate about, traveling, detaching from material items, and picking the right people in their lives. They also were not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and think outside the box.
To live extraordinary lives, we have to step out of the ordinary. We’re not clones, so why should we all live within the same parameters? Culturally, we impose a lot of false ideals on one another that do not necessarily lead to happiness. In fact, a lot of the time, many of us miss out on being happy completely. 47% of Americans report they are unhappy and prescription anti-depressant use is up 400%. Those are some scary numbers and quite indicative that all these external factors that are suppose to make us happy simply aren’t. Happiness is beyond the perfect wedding, the perfect house, the perfect spouse, the perfect children, the perfect job and the perfect designer wardrobe. Here are a few factors that play a significant role in living a genuinely happy, fun, authentic life.
Pick A Profession You Truly Enjoy
As the saying goes, “How you spend your days, is how you spend your life.” Of course, many of us have taken jobs we didn’t want to pay the bills, but never give up on your long term career passions. Don’t let your dreams die. Our professions make up quite a bit of our daily happiness, so it’s important that you choose a profession that you truly enjoy. Life is too short to hate your career. I know this is easier said than done, but the alternative is spending your life unhappy. Do not choose your profession to appease your parents, because it has the highest salary, or because it’s easily available. Choose your profession based on what you love. You can always change your mind or make adjustments later. Nothing is set in stone and you can learn along the way, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you want to pursue a different, more fulfilling career.
Always Be Learning
The day we think we know everything is the day we stop growing. Always be learning and striving for wisdom. Understanding the world and people around you will help you become a more well-rounded, enlightened person. Stay open-minded and curious. Listen instead of talking. Read new books, take college courses, follow current events. Whatever you do, prioritize learning and transcendence.
Live in the Present
The reality is that you can not change yesterday and you can not control tomorrow, but you can control right now. All you have is the present moment, so instead of constantly fretting over a future or past you can not control, live now. This does not mean never planning or flying by the seat of your pants. This means being grateful for every passing moment you’re on this earth and consciously appreciating all the good things in your life. It means putting your phone away so you can have a real conversation or to stop complaining about things that do not matter. Life is too short to be worried all the time. Living in the present is the most freeing feeling in the world!
Be Selective About The People in Your Life
This is a big one. The people around us can heavily affect our daily happiness. If you’re surrounded by negative, toxic people, their energy will rub off on you and weigh you down. Choose your friends and inner circle wisely. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and lift you higher. Release people who are hypercritical and unsupportive. You have no obligation to tolerate people who do not treat you right -it doesn’t matter who they are or how long you’ve known them! Let go of toxic people.
Take Care of Yourself
Caring for your mind, body, and soul is essential to your well-being. When we don’t exercise, eat healthy, and take care of our emotional wellness, we aren’t optimizing our lives to the fullest. Taking care of all aspects of your health maximizes your happiness and performance. It helps you be and feel your very best, so why wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to be your most optimized, happy self?
Overcome Your Fears
This is another one that is easier said than done, but fear is one of our biggest obstacles. If you can manage and overcome fear, there is not a whole lot you can’t do. Fear is a complicated emotion, but if you really think about the core of fear, you can help yourself overcome it. First, think about what it is that is making you so afraid. Is it fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of heartbreak? Fear of embarrassing yourself? Fear of what other people might think? Most things we fear do not cause death, so let’s remove that from the equation, and get to what we’re actually afraid of and that’s some form of emotional/psychological turmoil. But what you need to realize is that failure and emotional/psychological turmoil makes you stronger and primes you for success. It’s essentially required if you want to be successful and happy. It’s all part of the process, so stop avoiding it and take fear head on. Once your worst fears come true, you’ll dust off your shoulders, come out of it smarter and think, “Wow, I’m a lot stronger and capable than I thought!” Living through the worst case scenario takes the power away from your fears.
Stop Worrying About Material Items
All that stuff you thought you needed doesn’t actually make you happy. Sure, it might bring temporary happiness, but soon after that quick fix wears off, you return to your original state of happiness (or unhappiness), also known as the Hedonic treadmill. Stop worrying about “keeping up with the Joneses” and focus on internal happiness and having joyful experiences. Consumerism culture tells us we need all kinds of unnecessary stuff to be happy and valid, when in reality the things that make us the happiest long term have nothing to do with material items.
Live Below Your Means/Be Financially Responsible
Keep you financial obligations as low as possible. Getting in too much debt, buying cars and homes you can’t afford, and spending beyond your means will heavily affect your stress levels and in turn lead to less happiness. Keep your overhead low and live below your income. Do you want to impress other people or do you want to live a life free of crushing debt? Fewer bills=more happiness.
Travel/Have As Many Experiences As Possible
Spend your money on experiences. If you have a choice to get a new car or travel the world -travel the world. The memories and experience will bring you residual happiness. If you can afford it, always take that trip. Fun experiences are what bring us the most joy.
Understand The Core of Happiness
I think we’ve covered the core of genuine happiness here: doing work you love, overcoming fears/failure, prioritizing experiences over material items, surrounding yourself with amazing/supportive people, taking care of your body & soul, being financially responsible, and most of all, always be learning and transcending.