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How to Un-Dead Your Life (Part 3 of 3)

This is it, friends. We made it to the final installment of “ways to start living as though you gave a shit were actually alive,” and I’m not going to lie to you. I’m feeling a little hyped up over here.

We covered a lot of bases (well, three, to be exact) in Part 1 and then three more in Part 2, so buckle up for this final wave of research-soaked vitality to wash over you. (In case you forgot about why life-widening vitality is worth paying attention to, read here and then come back for more how-to’s.)

The last dose (just about all you can handle, really) of secrets: what the world’s most vitally alive people do to stay out of the dead zone:

  1. Aggressively pursue a life of leisure. (Yachting attire totally optional!) Vitally alive people don’t wait for permission to take up a new hobby or pick up the pieces of a dormant hobby they left behind. They don’t have qualms around whether to take a break and they don’t bite their nails about whether to take a week off or maybe just a long weekend instead. Let’s not confuse this with work ethic: high vitality people can be worker bees, too — but they work hard and play hard, making time for their leisure pursuits. Unapologetically.
    Researchers tell us the amount of time we devote to leisure has been shown as one of the more robust correlates of life satisfaction, and the concept of time affluence — the feeling that we have enough time to participate in the activities that truly matter to us (bahahaha, I know) — also positively relates to subjective well-being. Serious leisure seekers who effectively balance challenge and skill get to revel in the optimal experience known as flow, the immersed psychological state associated with highly engaging activities. (In the world of well-being, flow = liquid gold.)
    What would your life look like if you increased your leisure time by even 9%? Where can you amplify your time off in your life? How can you schedule your life to take more time off in the first place? What hobby needs to enter your life?
  2. Become constantly curious. Joie de vivre-ry people are consistently curious. They want to know what’s going on in the news, their neighborhoods, with climate change, in art, what Taylor Swift is up to (what IS T-Swift up to these days?), and what’s going on in other people’s lives (in ways that don’t elicit restraining orders). Wondering about things is good for us. Seeking information keeps us fresh, current, and alive. Check out what researchers have to say on this matter: “People who are regularly curious and willing to embrace the novelty, uncertainty, and challenges that are inevitable as we navigate the shoals of everyday life are at an advantage in creating a fulfilling existence compared with their less curious peers.” DON’T WE WANT ADVANTAGES? AND FULFILLING EXISTENCES, AMIDST THE SHOALS OF THIS THING WE CALL LIFE? Yes please.
    Where are there chances for you to find out answers to new things? To grow? To expand your perspectives? Read an autobiography of someone you’d normally not know about? Watch Fox news because you usually watch CNN? Take a class in something you’re not good at, because you blew up your old fixed mindset in favor of a growth mindset? Walk down an alley because you always walk on the sidewalk? (The Husband and I went down a cobblestone alley recently here in Chicago [in the daylight] and found this delightful little historic passageway with old fire escapes and stairwells and doorways to who knows where Capone might have shot people. We got swept up in the experience… something we wouldn’t have done if we’d just stayed on the usual beaten path.)
    If you need a little jostling of your routine, don’t forget about the Anti-Autopilot Assessment to help identify where the blood is being drained from your body because of your zombie-like tendencies. Bust out of autopilot and get curious.
  3. Assertively — bordering on aggressively — pursue life. I mean actively, not passively. Vitality requires — demands — us to get up, get out, try things on for size. The flames of passion don’t set themselves: they require kindling and you’re going to have to light that fire yourself, camper.
    I learned this one the hard way, years ago, when I felt stuck in a job that I wanted to leave but was afraid to figure out how. I kept hoping for something to happen, for another magical job to land in my lap, and for some reason no one swooped in to pluck me from my office and land me in a mystical land of career happiness. I had to take action myself, which in my case meant doing some serious work on investigating new careers (we can talk more about that over coffee one day). But just know: vitality can be cultivated, and as author Gregg Levoy says about finding passion, “it’s in the risk of being willing to step from the sidelines onto the playing field.”
    Where do you need to shift from passive to active in your life? Where might you need to try new things out, to see what catches fire — like different kinds of books to read (sci fi or murder mystery?)… art to dabble in (sketching or woodworking?)… countries to visit (Peru or Canada?)… classes to take (conversational Turkish or candle making?)… road trips to get lost on (Tennessee or Napa?)… careers edits worth making (a new company or a new role?)… workouts to try (Kettlebells or restorative yoga?)… you know this list keeps going and going and I’m needing to physically pull myself away from the keyboard to stop… now.

So there you have it — 9 ways to un-dead your life:

  1. Do things you value.
  2. Get off your ass.
  3. Copy a lively role model.
  4. Adopt a play mentality.
  5. Grease the social skids.
  6. Use your ESP (extra sensory perception).
  7. Aggressively pursue a life of leisure.
  8. Become constantly curious.
  9. Assertively — bordering on aggressively — pursue life.

 

The Leisure SuitWhat is a reasonable, busy, partially dead person to do? Pick one thing to widen your life from within the bowels of this list, and give it a go. If it makes you feel more alive, it’s a win for you and a loss for the Grim Reaper. If you love it, keep doing it. If it doesn’t resonate, swiftly abandon it and move onto something that does jack up your vitality. Small doses work well, so no need to quit your job, don a leisure suit, and start a social club (although if that floats your boat… because this picture is tempting me); one vitality-widening activity a month can make a world of difference to your perception of being alive, of being vitally engaged.

Off you go to live as though you’ve been warned that you will not live forever. You only get so many days, only so many summer evenings, only so many chances to grab life by the balls and stuff as much experience, pleasure, and zest into every Monday you’ve got left.

Jodi Wellman

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