Looking to live a livelier version of your life, now that the stranglehold of COVID is feeling a little less strangle-ey? Yeah, me too. So I consulted science on the matter and whittled the research down to the best of the best ways to un-dead ourselves.
As a refresher, we’re talking about vitality here — the positive sense of aliveness and energy that I waxed on about last week. I talked all about what vitality is and why you need to widen your life with so much more of it, and then left you hanging with how to actually stuff more of it into your life. (I did remind you of the top 6 things that are snuffing the vitality out of you, so I wasn’t a total dick, but I do feel like I owe you more.)
So here’s more, in the first of a three-part installment — because you can only handle so much vitality at a time, Sparky.
What do the world’s most vibrantly alive people do that we don’t? And how can we be more like them (without having to become base jumpers with YOLO tattoos)? See what I combed through Google Scholar (the place us nerds go to feel alive) to find out:
Do things you value. Positive psychology science says that being actively engaged in our lives through activities we personally value is synonymous with well-being. One of my deep-down-secretly-creative clients recently picked up writing poetry after a 20-year hiatus and found an enormous amount of joy from that one change in her life. She felt like she flicked a switch to “alive” mode because she was engaging in something special, just for her, that allowed her to be creatively expressive in a way that her accounting job simply couldn’t. Another client valued his health immensely but ruefully admitted he didn’t act like it or feel like it — not since kids birthed their way into his life. He made a life-enhancing decision to walk before dinner and eat 7 less cookies per week. (Fun Caloric Fact: cutting back on one 70-calorie Double Stuf Oreo cookie per day adds up to 25,480 calories per year or 7.28 FREAKING POUNDS.) What do you value in life, and are you participating in your life to actually honor what you’ve identified matters? What activities do you value that might liven you up? More on hobbies here. Maybe pick just one thing that resonates with you and take a single step towards it.
Get off your ass.(Said in the most convivial way ever, obviously. I’m a coach, not a fat camp instructor with an ax to grind.) Have you ever noticed that zesty people are energetic, enthusiastic, and rarely seated? As though they’re all hopped up on coke? That’s the look we’re going for. (Active and on-the-go, not coke-head-chic.) My Great Aunt Bernice, for example, is so noticeably alive. At 90-something, she’s on the edge of her seat, ready to live, ready to tap dance if they offered that class at her senior living center. She’s buzzing around (NO, NOT FROM THE COCAINE — WOULD YOU STOP THAT?), seemingly defying gravity. We can’t all flit around like Bernice, but can we aim for a touch more get-up-and-go in our lives? Inertia is real, friends. COVID proved that a body on the couch watching Netflix remains a body on the couch watching Netflix. And a body in motion (walking to the store, standing to eat lunch at the counter instead of sitting, having a walking meeting at work, using the stairs instead of the germy elevator…) stays alive. If you watched a time-lapsed video of yourself on a typical day, would it be full of a lot of movement or mostly a sleeper? Where can you spark momentum and get moving in your life?
Copy a lively role model. Think of people in your life, or people you’ve come across, who are super zesty. Imagine one person in particular. What is their life like? What makes them seem vitally alive to you? I’m thinking of Great Aunt Bernice: she’s super social (I think they used to informally call her the mayor of the small town she used to live in), she’s physically active, and she’s engaged in hobbies and activities. Bernice could never, ever, be described as dull. I am too introverted to ever be as vitally alive as Bernice, but I keep her in mind when I imagine a model for an ultra-vital life. Who can you emulate to ratchet up your vitality, even in the slightest amount? (You are allowed to pick an action hero if you don’t know anyone who’s worth modeling for their vitality.) (If you don’t have a lively person in your orbit, you might want to tune in next week.) (Also, this book is just so good; see pic below.)
So there you have it. Tune into your values, become a mover + shaker, and mimic the way someone else lives their life if you like the way they’re living it.
See you next week for 3 more ways to become the most vitally alive person you know. Who knows — maybe you’ll become the lively person others emulate?