Writings How to Live Life to the Fullest: A Personal Coach’s Guide
Becky Pine ©1999
1. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
A recent study found that the feeling most strongly correlated with life satisfaction was not happiness, success, or love, but rather gratitude. Begin now to appreciate all the big and small things that make your life enjoyable and fulfilling. Savor a beautiful landscape, a pleasant memory stirred by the song on the radio, the warmth of the sun on your back, a compliment from a colleague, kindness from a stranger, or a hug from a loved one.
2. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
All 12-step self-help programs advise conducting a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of yourself. Evaluate yourself honestly, listing both strengths and weaknesses. Forget the pejorative put-downs and forgive the past mistakes. Then use your strengths to overcome your flaws. Change is always possible, if you use your self-knowledge.
3. ACT YOUR AGE
Take responsibility for your actions. Be the adult and make mature decisions, especially when the choices are difficult. Invite input from children, friends, and relatives on matters that affect them, but be clear that you will make your own decisions based on all the wisdom and maturity you have. Not everyone will agree with you, but this will be true no matter what decisions you make. Making decisions in alignment with your values and principles is the path to true respect and self-esteem.
4. PREVENT STRESS
Stop trying to manage your stress. Start reducing it instead. Better yet prevent it. Set limits if you are constantly expected to do more than is humanly possible. Say no to excessive demands from others, or from your own internal perfectionist voice. Your first priority is to care for yourself so that you will be able to do what is required of you. Write and rehearse ways to say no graciously, to delegate to others, or to decline more than your share of responsibilities. Then use them.
5. NURTURE YOUR SPIRITUAL SELF
Strengthen your connection with God, a Higher Power, the Great Spirit, or your personal spirituality. The mysteries of life, death, creation and the universe may never be fully understood by human beings, but all great religions and philosophers teach that the process of seeking wisdom and guidance, and of living life according to one’s beliefs is the best definition we have of the purpose of life. Spend time daily in prayer, meditation, or spiritual development.
6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
Your body is the only possession you will have with you for your entire life. Treat it well and this marvelous creation will reward you with good health and dependable service. Fuel it with a nutritious diet, protect it from harm and contamination, maintain it with regular exercise, allow it plenty of rest and recuperation, and pay attention to the messages it sends you when it needs medical attention.
7. CONQUER YOUR BAD HABITS
Whether it be smoking, drinking, gambling, biting your nails, criticizing others, overeating, overspending, letting your emotions sabotage you, or some other form of harmful habitual behavior, resolve now to end it and replace it with healthful self-caring behaviors. Even if you’ve tried unsuccessfully before, try again. Make this be the time you succeed. Focus on the present, abstaining one day at a time.
8. GIVE GENEROUSLY
Share what you have -your talents, skills, time and financial wealth- as much as you can manage. Contribute your energy to a worthwhile project, volunteer to help your neighbors, share your ideas on problem-solving committees, and spend time freely with friends and loved ones. Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King proved that even those who have nothing can change the world when they join together and give of themselves.
9. KEEP YOUR WORD
Be careful about making commitments and diligent about keeping them. Don’t make promises with ‘never’ or ‘always’ in them; they may be impossible to keep. Better to tell an aging parent, “I will make sure you are well cared for” than “I will never put you in a nursing home.” Show up on time for appointments. Acknowledge and apologize for your mistakes. Remember that your word will mean nothing unless it is demonstrated by your actions.
10. TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS
“Life is difficult”. So begins M. Scott Peck’s long-term best-seller, The Road Less Traveled. No one has a problem-free life. The best way to solve problems big or small is to talk about them. Minimizing, denying, or keeping difficult things bottled up inside inevitably takes a toll. Don’t let embarrassment, guilt, or shame prevent you from finding a trusted friend, professional counselor, or spiritual guide to discuss what is bothering you. Talking sheds new light on the problem from another person’s perspective and eventually helps you make better decisions about what to do.
11. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Challenge yourself. Take a class in a new field for you. Even what you weren’t ‘good at’ in school can be fun and easy when you choose to do it, without the pressure of being graded. Expand your knowledge, increase your skills, keep your brain and body working, and re-experience the humility of being a beginner at something. Longevity research has proven the importance of an active mind to old-age happiness.
12. HAVE FUN
Having fun enhances both physical and mental health. Who says you need kids to enjoy splashing in the waves, making a snow man, blowing bubbles, flying kites, shooting baskets, roasting marshmallows, or solving puzzles? Indulge yourself in spontaneous pleasures that don’t cost money, increase guilt, or cause harm to your body, just for the fun of it. Volunteer for child-care if you need help losing your adult inhibitions.
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