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4 Ways to Stop Surviving and Start Living

shutterstock_1516681One of the most common issues I see when I first begin meeting with a client is that almost all of them are worn out, and feel like they’re running on fumes. When I ask them what they do for themselves, or what types of activities they enjoy, I usually get one of two responses-either they look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language, or they laugh at me. The truth is, most of us have gotten into the habit of simply trying to survive from day to day. We get so caught up in bills, schedules, and other obligations that we forget that it’s okay to actually enjoy life every once in awhile. If this sounds like it might apply to you, here are a few things for you to think about, and maybe start doing if you want to feel like you’re living vs. simply surviving.

Let Things Be Possible
Too often we write off dreams, desires, and ideas simply because we automatically assume that they’re unrealistic. We allow ourselves to get into a habit of telling ourselves “no” as a way to feel like we’re being responsible and “mature adults”. However, doing this only crushes the spirit, and makes life feel that much more meaningless and un-motivating. Think about something that you really want for yourself deep down, but have never let yourself seriously consider. Maybe there is a dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take or perhaps there is a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Give yourself permission to say that because you are a mature adult, you have the ability to make things happen, and start writing down some ideas of what it would take to make your dream come true. You may not be able to accomplish your goal overnight, but you might be surprised at how many options are out there that can turn just about any dream into a reality.

Stop Taking Hits
Something that can drain us very quickly is continually putting up with things that we aren’t happy with. This can include everything from staying in a job we hate to being taken advantage of in a relationship. If you feel like you’re constantly being driven over by a truck, stop and think about what is making you feel this way. Chances are there is some area of your life where you are allowing your own boundaries to get crossed, you’re not standing up for yourself, or you’re just letting something obnoxious continue on because you don’t feel like there’s a way out. All of these ideas are fear based, and you absolutely don’t need to allow unhealthy people or situations to continue to plague your life. If you have the ability to control your negative situation, then I encourage you to take that control and make some changes-life is too short to just stand back and take hits.

Look at Your Balance
Another common enemy to living is allowing your life to get out of balance. Now, I understand that maintaining a perfect balance is impossible, but perfection is never the goal. If you feel like you’re running at incredible rates and never getting anywhere, take some time to write down all of the major areas of your life, and rate yourself on how you’re doing on a scale of 1-10. Some of the areas may include, work, family, spirituality, friendships, fun, etc. If you find that you’re investing almost all of your energy into just a few of the areas, and giving the rest of the categories little to no attention, try to think of some ways you can cut back in those inflated areas, and how you’d like to better manage the areas that are lacking. The more you are paying attention to a variety of things that are important to you, the more you will feel like you are living a fulfilling existence.

Make Mini Plans for Big Plans
Most of us have goals or things we’d like to change in order to enjoy life more, but to think about doing it feels too difficult and overwhelming. This is because we’re usually trying to look at the entire thing at once. If you have something you’d like to do differently, start by making a mini goal that will get you started in the right direction, and award yourself when you accomplish it. For example, if you want to start exercising, don’t think about all the pounds you’d like to lose or that you’d have to go to the gym for 5 hours everyday to get to where you’d like to be. That will only make you feel inadequate and hold you back from doing anything. Instead, try picking one or two days per week, and set a 15-20 min. time limit at a specific time of day on those two days for walking or some sort of enjoyable, low-key exercise. Once you’ve gotten good at that, you can build your routine up from there. Before you know it, you’ll be in that habit of exercising that you always wanted to be in, but felt was impossible.

I’m not sure at what point society decided that life needed to be a continual rat race, and that if you weren’t exhausted, agitated, and anxious then you aren’t doing it right, but it’s not a healthy way to be. There is no good or logical reason why any of us should go through life being unhappy and barely making it through. So, I encourage you to stop telling yourself “no”, stop taking hits, take back any balance you may have lost, and start making realistic plans to create the life you actually want to live. If you’re already telling yourself that I’m crazy and that there is no way you can, that is simply your habit of negative self-talk trying to take over. Attempt to fight the urge to punish rather than reward yourself, and make the decision to move from surviving to living-and living well!

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