‘Tis the season to go looking for love, and probably in all the wrong places. You’ve been socially conditioned to have some kind of love transaction this second week of February, and with all due respect to the Hallmark executives, let’s forget about everyone else for a sec and focus the love light inwards. (You can still buy a tacky Valentine’s Day card for the love of your life, but for now we’re going to talk about loving your own life.)
Step 1: Pour a stiff drink and put a significant dent in it.
Step 2: Send a group text to all the people you could really do without, saying something to the effect of “it’s not me, it’s you, so bye.”
Step 3: Pick an island to move to (almost any warm land mass surrounded by water will do, as long as they operate on “island time”).
Just kidding! (Mostly. We all know that sending a group text is rude so step 2 should involve a series of personalized “bon voyage forever, friend-no-more” texts.)
No but really: not a lot of (wholesome) happiness happens after drink #1, and “doing a geographic” (illogically thinking everlasting contentment is out there for us in a new city or town) rarely works for the long term. (<– Ask my mother, who moved 21 times in pursuit of the happiness and fulfillment she eventually found in the right cocktail of anti-depressants. I will NEVER participate a DIY move again — not even for you, internet friend. Stay put or hire a real moving crew.)
Silliness aside, how do we live a live worth loving? The options are overwhelming (google positive psychology and buckle up for an avalanche of well-being boosters), so I’ve picked a sample platter of 3 things you can do to like life more, without having to move to Turks and Caicos or ditch the deadbeats in your life.
Crucial Question #1: What do you Love with a capital L?
Are you fanatically in tune with what makes your heart sing? Are you laser clear about what magnifies your spirit? Are there no uncertain terms about what makes your heart skip a beat? Most of us are out of touch with what makes us happy, and woefully ignorant about the things we love to pieces. How can we live fully if we’re not cognizant of what makes a fabulously full life for ourselves?
Fill in the following blanks and fill your life up with as many of these things as possible:
- I love these activities (e.g.: walking, skeet shooting, browsing at bookstores, reading, car shows, daydreaming, martial arts, etc.):
- I love these people:
- I love spending time with the following people:
- I love doing these things when I’m alone:
- I love these travel destinations:
- I love these locations (e.g.: my hometown, the coffee shop around the corner, being by the pool, etc.):
- I love to eat:
- I love to drink:
- I love these desserts:
- I love these colors:
- I love these songs/ bands:
- I love these movies:
- I love these books:
- I love these hobbies:
- I love these times of day:
- I love these flowers:
- I love these smells:
- I love these sights:
- I love these things to touch:
- I love these sounds:
- I love work when:
- I love myself when:
- I also love:
Crucial Question # 2: Where do you need to give yourself permission to press the “refresh” button in your life?
Where do you need to give yourself permission to make a choice that maybe-just-maybe disappoints someone else?
- You get to leave a lackluster job.
- You get to leave a loveless &/or lifeless marriage.
- You get to call off an engagement to a guy who proposed to you in front of his family so you’d feel pressured to say yes but then deeply regret it later. (Hi, A.!)
- You get to retire from the company you tirelessly built.
- You get to roll off the Board you’ve been serving on for a tad too long.
- You get to bust up your ho-hum weekend routine and go on a little adventure.
- You get to move on from a friendship that no longer fills your soul.
- You get to do a makeover and love your hair/ teeth/ clothes again.
- You get to renovate and put those cool California Closets in because your current “closet” gives you hives.
- You get to leave the church.
- You get to go to the gym for 50 minutes and NOT be with your family who would much rather you be home putting chicken nuggets in the oven for them.
- You get to go back to school to restart your career — YES, from the ground level, even at 50.
- You get to do whatever the fuck you want. (Within reason, you law-abiding citizen, you.)
Fabulous F. Scott Fitzgerald Quote #1 For This Moment:
“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”
Fabulous F. Scott Fitzgerald Quote #2 For This Moment:
“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.”
Fabulous Quote #3 for This Moment but not by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot
Crucial Question # 3: What choice do you need to make about your life today?
That question — while mightily worthwhile — sounded more intimidating than I intended, so let’s dial it down a notch. What one small thing do you need to pick from Crucial Question #1 or #2 above?
If you make one minor adjustment in your life today, I know you know the impact can be enormous. (See Fig 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 below for reinforcement.)
One of my clients loved the look and feel of a grandiose old hotel lobby in her city, so she started going there weekly to work/ read/ people watch. She liked her life appreciably more because she was doing something she loved. It was that simple.
Another client knew he needed to stop spending so much time with the Gossip Queen in his office, before being crowned Gossip King himself. He liked himself more for being “85% less mean” (his words), even though he took delicious delight in lambasting the colossal shortcomings of others in his organization. It was only by analyzing the relationships that might not be serving him that he decided to gently part ways with his bad influence. It was that simple.
Someone came up to me after I group presentation I recently gave (in person! hello again IRL!) and said her list included 17 things to love and 3 things to leave. She picked one of each to work on for the next month, and had already highlighted the next duo for the following month. She was delighted to have a plan, and she hadn’t even executed on it yet. It was that simple.
So there we have it. Fall in love with yourself for being the kind of person who does things worth loving and leaves things worth ditching. Life’s too short to do anything but love however Mondays you have left.
“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” —Jack Kerouac