While life may seem random or obversely predetermined at times, it really is the most pure form of art. This concept may sound novel, but let me explain further. When I say “your life is a form of art,” I mean you have control over how you design it. Contrary to popular belief, there is no “right” path to happiness. You have options and various roads you can take if you’re willing to put the work in and step outside your comfort zone. In fact, pure joy and unadulterated life satisfaction often comes from challenging yourself and forging your own path; the feeling that you truly lived life to the fullest instead of settling and being afraid of pursuing your dreams.
However, marching to the beat of your own drum doesn’t come without risk or mistakes. As someone who is drawn to a good challenge, I have fallen on my face numerous times, but 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 lifestyle choices I’m about to discuss below. Life tends to throw curve balls, but what matters most is your commitment to making optimal choices regardless of adversity.
When I launched StyleFox in 2013 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, forming healthy habits, the need to constantly be learning, 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 push beyond 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. Life satisfaction extends 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 fulfilling 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.
Build A Solid Financial Foundation For Yourself
The more solid you build your financial foundation, the more options you have in life. One major deterrent that can hold us back is depending financially on someone else. When you build your own nest egg, your own business, and your own bank account, the world becomes your oyster. You are free to do whatever you want and live life on your own terms.
You don’t have to appease others or stay in a relationship you don’t want; when you make your own money, you are in full control on your life. Don’t earn money to buy more “stuff”, earn money to be autonomous. That is power. So, even if your relationship doesn’t work out or things don’t go the way you planned, you will still be okay. Which brings us to…
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 financial freedom + more happiness.
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 support 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 become your very best, so why wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to be your most optimized, happy self?
Overcome Your Fears/Embrace Discomfort
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. We spend so much time trying to feel “positive” and comfortable that we miss incredible opportunities for growth. Discomfort IS positive when it pushes us to become better.
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.
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.