Want to like your life even a little bit more than you do today — even 3.6% more? (Pretty much all of us are raising our hands right now.) I have 10 ways that have worked for me, and thankfully most of them don’t involve hard liquor. In no particular order…
1. I swiftly abandon a book or movie I’m not loving.
Life is too short to trudge through the pages of a book you think might get better. Life is too short to endure a movie that makes you long for a commercial to interrupt the misery. Sometimes we think it’s a sign of good moral character if we “stick with it,” and I’ve long since abandoned the idea of being moral if it means doggedly putting up with a book that doesn’t show promise within the first 10 pages. You could die next week; wouldn’t it be a pity if you spent the last days of your life grinning and bearing pretty much anything? Do you need to give yourself permission to walk away from books/ movies/ shows/ podcasts/ plays that just aren’t doing it for you? Poof. Permission granted.
2. I look forward to Monday Nite Date Nite.
I know I’m all about Mondays (4,000 of them, to be exact), but let’s be honest with one another: Mondays really are the worst. So how does someone trying to like their life a little bit more make it through this wretched weekly experience? You plan something to look forward to. The Husband I instituted MNDN years ago: we have a dinner that’s the right balance between easy and exciting (easy = not having anything to do with whisks or immersion blenders or any effort at all; exciting = yummy), so reheating leftover pizza from the freezer is a great example. MNDN has now morphed into Monday Nite Movie Nite, so we take turns picking from one of eleventy billion flicks on our streaming channels. (I’m up to pick next and I could use a good recommendation.) We have wine and we usually have dessert. We’ve found a way to make Mondays 23% less shitty. How can you make Mondays delicious instead of dreadful?
3. I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions.
This one surprises me still, because I admit to liking the feeling of pulling a new magazine out from the mailbox, excited to put my feet up and read about how to do my hair well once and for all, how to make a healthy casserole that the whole family loves (even though I don’t have a family), how to fire up my glutes. Here was the problem: I never really had the time to read the magazines, so they stacked themselves up in neat but daunting piles beside the couch and bed, reminding me of the time I yearned for but didn’t have (and would never have). Is it too much to say that they were passive aggressively bullying me, those growing stacks of magazines? I got the last word: I cancelled every last one. Now if I’m feeling flush with time, I’ll pick up a magazine in an airport, or I’ll read a digital magazine from my iPad that never taunts me. Do you have a magazine (or book) problem that makes you feel incessantly behind? Maybe you could donate them? Maybe you could reduce the inbound clutter?
4. We started getting our groceries delivered.
“Don’t they sometimes pick out stuff that you wouldn’t pick out?” asks my dad, just like I asked for years before I became a “let someone else do the annoying stuff for you” convert… and the answer is Yes. Sometimes the shopper picks an apple that has seen better days, or a tomato that makes me raise my eyebrows. AND EVEN STILL it’s worth it. Instacart has this feature that adds up how many hours you’ve saved by doing your shopping through them, and I love love love to see that I’ve saved 134 hours so far by not being at the grocery store, by not having to be around a bunch of mouth-breathers in line at the checkout, by not having to load up the trunk and navigate the parking lot with my wayward cart. Research is clear that buying time buys us happiness, so I’m all over someone buying our groceries or cleaning our toilets or looking after our new cacti (gahh! We have cacti!). How can you buy more time in your life?
5. I stopped watching the news.
I started this when I was in grad school and needed every 15-minute increment of discretionary time to read Yet Another Academic Paper. Even though I was bogged down with papers (and APA formatting), life felt lighter without watching or reading the news, and I now remain in 85% ignorant bliss of the dramas unfolding on our planet (and beyond earth, what with the distant galaxies and all). I skim the headlines in an online paper and that’s it. No incessant BREAKING NEWS!!! drivel. No elevated blood pressure. No unnecessary anxiety. Might you want to tune out of news, and maybe even *gasp* social media?
6. I made a Warm + Fuzzy folder in my inbox.
If you’re anything like me, you dwell on what you didn’t do superbly well, and you gloss over whatever you did do well. So I got proactive about busting that pesky negativity bias and started a Warm + Fuzzy folder in my email, where I file notes sent to me with kind words in them. On days where I’m feeling particularly crappy or lacking in confidence, I take a peek in the folder, read through a compliment or two sent from a friend or client once upon a time, and feel less like a piece of trash. How soon can you set up this kind of folder for yourself?
7. We declutter on the regular.
I fell in love with a guy who likes things in order, so with The Husband’s lead, we ruthlessly purge and donate the stuff we no longer use — like the mandoline, the pasta maker, the third whisk, the shoes that look great but pinch a bit in the toes, the blazer that hasn’t been worn in ages, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Life is undeniably lighter and clearer when a good purge has taken place. Less really is more. I love having less options to wear, as long as the options I have are things that actually fit me. Donating clothes that “might fit me someday” is an immediate way to feel better about life. I don’t want old, too-tight jeans haunting me, and I suspect you don’t want that either. Can you make quarterly purge sessions part of your routine, too? And if that’s too obsessive-compulsive-aggressive, what about twice a year?
8. We use the Book of Bad Calls to put our snafus in perspective.
I told you all about this fabulous foible-filled book here, and the point remains the same: when you have a place to record the things that go awry in life — teeny tiny and ginormous alike — it tends to take the sting out of the ouch. Now when something goes wrong (note I said “when,” not “if”), it’s delightful to have a place to document it. (Note: never buy canned bean sprouts. Not ever.) Might a BOBC add to your life, and your ability to laugh off the missteps?
9. I ask myself a really important question.
As a curious type, I’m prone to mind wandering. This conflicts mightily with my incessant desire to Be Producing Something at All Times, so I often need a way to get back on track with the work I need to get done (instead of opening up a 17th tab in my browser to learn more about those wind turbine things dotting the landscape around Palm Springs, for example). When I need to converge, I ask myself out loud, “What’s the most important thing I should be doing right now?” You read that right — I ask the question out loud, which makes it 348x more impactful than just wondering if I should stop procrastinating/ researching/ scouring Google for the perfect gray laundry hamper. The question always snaps me to attention and zeroes me in on what’s most important (which is sometimes Doing Work and sometimes Doing Nothing). Do you want to join me in this re-focusing exercise? I dare you to ask yourself this question and tell me it wasn’t effective for you.
10. I take CBD oil to sleep enormously better.
We have a nocturnal cat who needs a lot of affection at about 1am, then 2am, then 3am, then 4am, then again at 5am. We love him too much to banish him from the bedroom (we’re no animal abusers!), so I have accepted a life of waking up to coddle Andy as he gets comfy on my stomach ALL NIGHT LONG. You know what makes all this very okay? This CBD oil. I originally started taking it in 2020 for a painful frozen shoulder (recommended by my uber-amazing massage therapist), and stumbled upon the sleep-inducing benefit as a fabulous side effect. Now I wake up through the night, enable Andy by petting him and telling him how much I love his furry baby face, and then fall promptly back to sleep. Again and again.
So there you have it… 10 simple yet potentially life-altering ways to maybe just maybe like your life a little bit more. How about you pick one that inspires you and give it a go? That’s all “the good life” is… making tweaks along the way to get more out of it before we bite the biscuit. No need for a radical overhaul… just a nice glass of wine on a Monday and a book thrown in the donation bin (in a hurry, if it sucks).
Oh and just in case you missed it… please take 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!