If there's one thing that losing my mom to cancer as taught me, is that life is too darn short. Sure, this concept isn't new and it's something that I've reminded myself of in the past - but let me tell you - nothing puts it into perspective like thinking someone has a half a year to live and then the clock running out two weeks later. Not to dwell on that sad time in my life - my point here is that there's no way to tell how long you'll be on this earth, so you might as well get off your ass and empower yourself to lead a happier, healthier life.
1. Take a step back from toxic people.
Often times, a person is defined as "toxic" if they have a blatant bad influence on someone. The boyfriend who cheats, the friend who convinces you to go out and party more than you should; you know the type.
For me, a person is usually toxic for lots of little, subtle reasons that creep up like a poisonous vine. Usually it's someone who I consider a friend whose constantly complains but does nothing to resolve the issues, all the while relying on me to offer solutions that they ultimately won't do anything with. That constant negativity brings me down, too. And most of the time I don't realize how much it impacts me until I think back to recent interactions with such a person and feel like a Mom - always putting someone else first, offering advice, but never in a position to get anything back.
Now look, I'm not saying to ditch your friends because they are going through a rough patch. What I'm saying is to take a closer look at the relationships you have with people, and make sure you're getting out of them what you need. If what you need is to be the person who guides someone else then I commend you. But if being there for someone is taking a toll on the overall quality of your life with nothing to balance it out, maybe you need to rethink that relationship. I say this all the time, "it's easier said than done," but I promise you that in the long run, it pays off.
2. If you have a significant other, be happy or bust.
This goes hand-in-hand with what I just talked about, but this is specific to romantic relationships. I don't know if it's the abundance of tragic romance books, movies, or memes out there, but somewhere along the line the acceptable concept of being in love has been twisted into fighting all the time and then getting a surge of affection when you reconcile. I constantly see memes on Facebook with captions like, "we may argue all the time, but love is always coming back to each other."
Ummmmm, no...that sounds more like obligation to me. Love isn't drama, or fighting like cats and dogs and then cuddling the next day. Love shouldn't be something difficult. Sure, difficult things may get thrown at you, but true love should be an underlying constant that gives you the strength to get through anything as long as you're with that special someone. Yes, you will fight. Anyone that you spend a lot of your time with will get on your nerves at some point. But if you can look back at your relationship and see that fighting, wondering what the other person is doing, and spending a good amount of time asking for forgiveness is the majority of your relationship, go find someone who will make you happy. Trust me - if you think it feels good to have beef with your s/o and then get back with them - you're mind will be BLOWN by how it feels to have that happy feeling without all the negative stuff.
3. Do something just for you.
Life is friggin' busy. Let's face it - no one ever really has enough money or time, sleeps enough at night, feels like the best parent, etc. We live in a world where we are constantly taught to expect more, and that "more" is everything. It's easy to just trudge forward, blinders on, focused on that shiny "more" at the end of the tunnel. But when you do that, you can forget that you need to be in one piece when you get there.
So, no matter how difficult and over-self indulgent it may seem, pamper yourself. And I'm not talking about an extra 2 minutes in the shower, or an extra cardio sesh - I'm talking something that is blatantly fancy schmancy. It doesn't have to be expensive - it could just be curling your hair once a week instead of throwing it up into a ponytail, or it could be buying yourself a new eyeshadow palette.
One of the things I enjoy most is when I do my nighttime skincare routine. It may sound dumb, but putting the toner, serum, moisturizer, etc. on my face at night makes me feel like I'm doing something good just for myself, and I love that I get results that make me feel more confident. It's okay to be a little self centered, I think it's an important part in learning to appreciate who you are.
4. Let the little stuff go.
This one is very much still a work in progress for me. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, very self-disciplined. A lot of that comes from anxiety, and to deal with that I need to have a plan for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. If I've planned something and it doesn't go my way, then very frankly, it annoys the shit out of me. And that translates into human interactions, too. If I expect something I say to have a certain impact and it doesn't, my feathers get rustled. And I assure you, I am a champion grudge-holder.
BUT one of the best things I've done for myself is to let those little things roll off my back. I try to take a "big picture" approach. When something sets me off, I say, "Okay, JM. I understand that you're angry. But is this something that, in 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 1 week, will have mattered?" If the answer is no (and it usually is) then it's easier for me to see no point in wasting days of being angry/anxious, and I tend to get over things much faster.
5. If you don't like something in your life, change it.
If you don't like your job, look for a new one. If you don't like that you've put on a few pounds, do something to exercise. If you wish you could go to the beach more, go. These days it's easy to take black-and-white concepts like those and add in a bunch of gray areas but I swear, the moment you push out the excuses and start looking at things at a higher level - that's where change happens.
Granted, it won't happen overnight. It may not happen for a year, or more than that. And duh, it won't be easy. You may hate your job as an accountant and wish you had become a circus clown. Okay, FINE. Go to clown school. But to do that you may have to continue as an accountant to help pay for school - hell, you may even need to work more, but in the end, when you've gotten that...clown school diploma(?!!!)....just think of how accomplished you'll feel. And, if you have a positive circle of friends/family around you (see #1 and #2 above), then they will all be there to support you and soldier through with you.
6. Be prepared to accept the consequences of #1 - #5.
This one is important. If you choose to do a little cleanup of your life using what I just wrote - you also have to accept what might happen as a result. I can tell you from experience, if you take a step back from a relationship with a friend, it's going to be difficult. Obviously that friend is going to sense that something is up, and you'll need to decide how to handle that. If you're not ready to stick with a decision, then don't do it.
On the flipside, if you don't like something in your life and you decide not to change it, accept that you are unhappy by your own doing, and try to make the best of it. For example, if you hate all the people in your office and your job there but you don't even try to look for a new job then very frankly, it's your fault you're unhappy.
Of course, not all decisions are as monumental or as simple as the examples I used, but my uber point is that you can always make a change to better yourself, no matter how big or how small. It may be the toughest thing you've ever done and it may not happen overnight, but life is too short no to to at least try.