Life is short.
I attended two funerals in a one week period recently. One was a 27-year old (same age as I am now), and the other was 52 (my dad’s age). Both were taken too soon. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about how short life is and what I want my life to look like and represent.
I’ve put together 10 Principles to make the most out of our lives.
1. Don’t waste your time being angry
This is something that really bothers me, when people spend their precious time being angry over silly things. Like being angry that you arrived somewhere late because your date wasn’t ready on time and it ruins your whole evening. The time you were supposed to be enjoying together suddenly takes a backseat to your temper. Is that the way you want to spend your time with someone you care about?
Or maybe your child makes a mess while making you a gift or drawing. Do you get upset with them for the mess or lovingly appreciate the thing they created for you? You have the power to control that situation. You can make them feel bad for leaving a mess to be cleaned up, or you can share in the joy of their handmade efforts.
2. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your loved ones
Often we hold our loved ones to ridiculously high standards. We have high hopes, and when they don’t get met, we are hurt. We tell ourselves “They must not really care. If they cared, they would have done better.” After enough times of unmet expectations you begin to resent that person and soon the relationship will fall apart if your issues don’t get addressed.
No one is perfect. When we expect perfection we set unrealistic expectations for people around us. We are only human, and we all make mistakes. I’m not saying lower your expectations to accept less than someones best, but you need to offer grace when they make mistakes or don’t live up to want you expect. Perfectionism can be a terrible curse if you let it control your life and take away from your relationships.
3. Enjoy the small things
There is beauty all around us. The old advice “Stop and smell the roses” is too often ignored. We don’t take time to stop and enjoy the things around us. We need to watch more sunsets and appreciate everyday moments with our loved ones. Our stress levels would be significantly lower if we applied just this one principle.
Our day-to-day activities often become tedious to us. We don’t take time and enjoy making dinner together. Instead we dread having to cook and then clean up. We miss out on playing with our kids because the house needs cleaned. If we included them or put the work on hold we could enjoy precious moments with them.
4. Love deeply
It can be hard to fully love someone when you’ve been hurt in the past, but love can be the most rewarding action on the planet. Love doesn’t have to cost you a dime, but it will take your time. It will take a few minutes of your day to call up your mother. It will take you giving up your spot in line and waiting a few moments longer for a tired mother trying to wrangle her kids. It will take you getting up 5 minutes earlier to make your spouse a cup of coffee. It will take you longer to get to work when you stop to help a neighbor who has a flat tire.
Everyone is deserving of a little love, and you can be the one to share it with them.
5. Take action on your dreams now
My husband and I have been talking about building a house since we got married seven years ago but because of wanting to have our finances in order and letting our busy lives distract us from our ultimate goal, we haven’t. I’m ready to dive in with both feet now. What are we waiting for? Our finances will never be perfect. Our schedules aren’t going to get any less busy. If anything they will be getting busier. Our family size isn’t going to decrease, only increase over the years. I will be taking action this week to move us toward our dream of building our house.
6. Spend your money on things that matter
Sure that Starbucks latte taste goods but what else could you do with that money if you saved it for a year? You could probably take your family on vacation or make an extra payment to pay down your mortgage. We spend so much of our time earning money we should spend it on things that actually enrich our lives.
Experiences will stay with you forever. Spend your hard earned income on creating lifelong memories with the ones you love. Our lives are short, that should guide how we spend our time and our money.
Give to causes that are close to your heart to make your money have more lasting value instead of spending it on yourself. Enriching someone else’s life through your contribution will make your life mean more.
7. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you
I have tried to embrace this in my life the last few years. Since I had my daughter, I have made it a point to be around my family and friends more often. They say, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I want her always to be surrounded by people who love her and encourage her. When you have a baby, you need the extra help and support. I want my daughter to have lots of fond memories with her grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. To accomplish this, we intentionally plan meals together and make plans to see each other for holidays. Meals are the easiest way to get everyone together because we all gotta eat.
Never underestimate the power of positive association. As they say “you are who you hang out with,” so make sure you are with people who lift you up and encourage you to be the best you. Don’t waste your time with people who drag you down. Surround yourself with individuals who want to see you succeed and are willing to help you get there.
8. Arrange your daily activities based on your priorities
We can make a list of the things that we say are important to us but if we’re not spending time on those things are we really making it a priority? Like for example my relationship with my husband, of course, is a priority in my life but after we had a baby, I was neglecting to spend the time with him that we needed to make our relationship strong. I had to refocus my daily actions to meet my priorities. We too often get caught up in all of the busy day-to-day activities and we lose sight of what’s really important to us, and we don’t spend time on those things that we should.
9. Forgive others and yourself
When you lose someone you love, you don’t want to be left with unforgiveness. We will never be able to make things right if they are gone. Whether you will be separated by death or hundreds of miles, don’t let a day go by without repairing a broken relationship. If they are someone whom you truly care about, do everything in your power to fix the wrongs that have been committed.
This applies to yourself too. We are often very hard on ourselves and unwilling to let go of mistakes we’ve made. We beat ourselves up and don’t let ourselves move on. We keep ourselves from good things because we won’t forgive ourselves.
Give yourself and others some grace this week.
10. Be Honest with Others
I went through a period in my life when everyone around me didn’t want to say what they really wanted and kept a lot of secrets. They wanted one thing but said another and it ended up causing problems between all parties involved. I decided from then on that I wanted to be honest with people and not hold back my thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t do anyone any good if they don’t have the whole truth.
Stand up for yourself and don’t let people trample you. This leads to my next point, to confront individuals who have wronged you/hurt you and didn’t even know it. We hold resentment towards people who we have been unable to express our disappointment with. When we let issues go unresolved and don’t talk to people about how they’ve hurt us it starts to shape our lives, typically in a bad way.
Permit yourself to make your feelings heard. You don’t have to do it in a loud and demanding way, but you do need to do it. Your life will be better if you can be honest with others. You’ll feel more understood and ultimately happier.
I don’t like the saying “live every day like it’s your last” but I do like “live every day to the fullest because you’re not promised tomorrow”. When you’re living every day like it’s your last, you do not regard consequences, but when you live your days when you’re not promised tomorrow you appreciate things and focus on what really matters.
What do you do to make the most out of every day? Leave me a comment below.