Have you ever noticed that some people are never happy? They may have the greatest family, wonderful friends, a great job, a house to envy, and yet, something is missing.
We all can fall into discontent with our life. The trick is to not get stuck there. So how do we get out of the funk when we’re stuck in our rut? I believe the answer is to listen to the small voice within that calls us to our passions.
For many years I was stuck in a rut of my own. I was divorced and dating, trying to find Mr. Right. Instead, I ended up with one failed relationship after another. After the seventh break up in seven years, I knew I needed to make a change. So instead of trolling online dating sites, I decided to pursue a lifelong dream to visit France.
My trip was an adventure of a lifetime for so many reasons. First, I did everything I loved to do. I cycled more than 700 miles across the country, met interesting people, wrote about my adventure and took some amazing photos. And of course, I also enjoyed great food and wine along the way! My vacation only lasted three weeks, but it changed my entire lifetime. Here’s why: I learned that life is sweeter when I love my path.
Now, it was easy to love my path when I was doing everything that fed my soul. But when I returned, my life awaited. I came back to the same house in the same city with the same job and the same single existence. I wondered: how do I love life when everything isn’t as I want it?
Loving our path is a process, not a destination. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to experience more joy in my life—just the way it is—and to build an even more satisfying life for the future.
- Find the beauty in every day. Yes, some days are more challenging than others. There are days when I have deadlines on projects I don’t want to work on, housework I don’t want to do, meetings I don’t feel like attending. And when I focus on all of the things that are wrong with my day, my time just feels like a drag. But I’ve noticed that if I open myself to observing one great thing about every day, I feel much better about my life. It can even be a simple thing. Some of my moments of beauty: the sound of my daughter’s voice when she calls, the wet nose of one of my dogs letting me know they want to eat, the magnificence of a sunrise that I see from my office window.
- Do something every week to feed the soul. I’d like to be able to ride my bike for hours every day like I did in France. But let’s be real! I have a job, half the year the weather is crappy in Montana, and some days I feel too lazy to ride. The good thing is that I have more than one passion. Another one of mine is writing. Some days, I’ll get up early or take my lunch hour to work on my writing. Since I’ve returned from France two and a half years ago, I have written my first book, published many articles plus fit in time for journaling and blogging. I had the same 24 hours in my day before France, but I learned how to make time to pursue my passions. We owe it to ourselves to make the effort to feed our soul every week (or better yet, every day). My suggestion is to schedule time for you just like you block off time for meetings with others. Get to sleep a little earlier so you can arise before everyone else is up. You’ll be amazed how rewarding it will feel to spend a little quality time on you!
- Learn to say no. I have a friend I’ll call Mandy who loves to write. She has told me that she would like to work full-time at her craft in the next five years. Every time we’ve talked over the past year, I have asked her about her writing, and she has told me that she never has the time. And I believe her! Mandy’s extra time is filled up! She serves as secretary for a community group, helps her husband with household projects and spends late nights and weekends at work. How will Mandy ever achieve her goal if she doesn’t devote the time? Saying no to activities and obligations that don’t serve us can transform our lives. Often we really don’t have time for us because we’re so busy serving others and their priorities. Consider all of the things that you think you have to do. Do you really have to do them? Could you say no and let someone else assume the responsibility? Who made other people’s goals your goals?
As I said, loving our path doesn’t happen in an instant. It’s a process of knowing what we love, making more time for ourselves and enjoying life along the way. But when we say yes to ourselves, we’ll do more than feel good about our days; we’ll feel satisfied with our lives.