You’re the right person to be reading this article if:
You just can’t get enough out of life. You’re the “suck all the marrow out of life” kind of person, and while you’re probably annoying everyone in the wake of your new recipes and travels and articles and hard to pronounce new workouts, you’re always clamoring for more ways to feel alive. Woo hoo! Yeah, you’re in the right place.
You’re feeling a little bedraggled in the vitality department because you’ve been under house arrest for over a year. You too are reading the right article.
You’ve lost that lively feeling, long before the pandemic ever gave you an excuse to feel bored, humdrum, and spiritless. It’s okay. You’re in the right place, Snoozy Smurf.
You thought you were opening up an article about reincarnation, and while we will not go there, you’d might as well stick around. I’m all about inclusion.
Adopt a play mentality. Many people with off the charts “health of spirit” know how to PLAY. They know how to leverage the oodles of scientific studies that tell us play is so much more than just having fun. Play increases brain functionality, improves memory and critical thinking, stimulates creativity, decreases stress, and keeps us feeling young. Just so we’re clear about what play is, it can include ritualistic things like board games or sports where you follow the rules… imaginative play like drawing, playing charades or taking improv classes… it can involve body play where you move or defy gravity, like riding roller coasters, trampolining or surfing… and anything that brings you back to your childhood, like scavenger hunts, snowball fights, giant Jenga games, building forts.
Play: it’s serious stuff. Where can you add more play into your life — in and out of work (because the most successful workplaces know how to goof off in the right doses)? Where might you need to update your talk track (that voice in your head that judges everything you say, do, don’t say, and don’t do) that it’s okay to take time out of your week for R+R?
Grease the social skids. I find this one tougher as an introvert, but the truth is out there — the most vitally alive people are consistently connected to other people. Researchers compared very happy people to happy people, wondering what made them different. Of the very happy people in their sample, the striking thing was that they all had close relationships with others. Psychology research rarely gives us “necessary or sufficient conditions” for anything, but it looks like good social relationships may be a “necessary condition” for extreme happiness. I want extreme happiness, don’t you?
Leading researchers have concluded that good relationships with others may be the single most important source of life satisfaction and emotional well-being, across different ages and cultures. One study followed hundreds of thousands of people around for an average of 7.5 years, finding that people with social relationships are 50% more likely to live, compared to people with not many or crappy social relationships. Consider the energy gained by being around humans you like or find interesting (other than the Debbie Downers we’ve already x-nayed from our lives)… that’s what we’re after: positive energy from others. Who can you connect with today, even if it’s to make a “let’s get together” date (in person or otherwise)? Who can you text RIGHT NOW to say something loving, like, “I love you”, or, “Thinking of you and I’m glad I can call you a friend,” or even just a series of eggplant emojis?
Use your ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). Vitality by definition is all-encompassing in that includes both psychological and somatic factors. What I mean by that is that being alive is a totally sensory experience, and being ultra-alive means that we stimulate all of our senses on a regular basis.
I worked with a woman who was feeling lackluster in her life — kind of bored, an all-work-no-play kind of scenario — so she clued into what her favorite things were, according to all of her senses. She had overlooked so many things she liked for years — like the smell of the trees in the forest preserve she used to hike in, the taste of oatmeal cookies which she used to bake, the feel of faux fur in a pillow that was one of those “display only” props in her living room. She came up with a huge list of things she loved, by each sense, and picked a few things to amplify in her life. For example, she set a date to drive to the forest preserve with a friend and hike, and she now goes every month or so, sometimes after work for even 30 minutes. She bakes cookies regularly (giving many of them away so she gets the balance of smelling them, trying them, feeling generous, and not gaining 75 pounds). And the faux fur thing — I love this one. She went onto fabric.com, ordered about five different colors of faux fur, and made pillows out of all of them — pillows she uses, to feel, not just for display. She’s experiencing more of her senses and feeling that much more alive as a result. What senses do you need to activate? When was the last time you tried a new flavor — garam masala, maybe?… really smelled the air in your favorite place — like that spot by the lake, or outside your favorite bakery?… deliberately felt the softness of a flower petal or your pet’s ear?… looked at a stunning piece of art or architecture or even just a crowd of people (in a non-stalkery way)?… listened to your favorite songs from high school or the sounds of the vibrant city thrumming around you or the birds looking to get it on in the trees above you?
Now that you have a total of six ways to jack up the vitality in this one life you’re living (what with these three and last Monday’s installment), I hope you’re feeling inspired to widen your life even just a wee bit more. Come on back next Monday for the final three ways to un-dead your life.