When we think of changing our lives for the better, we may think of a new job, a new home, a new relationship, or material wealth – more “things” that we think will improve our lives.
Recently I saw a bumper sticker that read “the best things in life are not things” – it made me smile and I started thinking about ways to live a better life without looking for or wanting more stuff.
Here is my list:
1. Simplify – rather than desiring more, find ways to live with less. Bring clothing to Good Will or a charity. Clear away clutter from countertops and tables. If you have not used something or worn something for a year – give it away.
2. Enjoy nature – nature soothes the psyche and lessens stress. If you are fortunate enough to live near nature, do not take it for granted. Rather than rushing to work in the morning, take a moment or two to enjoy the trees, ponds, streams, rivers and the sky. If you do not live near natural beauty, take a drive to a nearby lake or take a walk in the woods.
3. Enjoy the arts – whether you enjoy visual art, performance art or historical art – make it part of your life. Take time to visit museums, see a play, or go to a local gallery.
4. Cook at home – it can become a habit to eat fast food in transit to work or school and at restaurants for business lunches and dinners. Cooking at home is less expensive and often more healthy than food from restaurants.
5. Cook for friends – invite friends and family members to your home and prepare a meal together – it is such a lovely way to spend time with people you care for.
6. Bring mindfulness to work – in this culture of multi-tasking, we rush through our work without really enjoying what we do. Being mindful at work helps us to concentrate on one task at a time, and enjoy the sheer pleasure of being present to what we are doing.
7. Spend time with children. I was washing dishes with a four year old recently. It was fun to watch her enjoy running her hand under the water from the faucet and delighting in the bubbles from the dish washing liquid. Her laugh made me laugh, and we both had fun.
8. Focus on others rather than yourself. It is so easy to get caught up in our own needs. Find ways to help others – shovel snow from an elderly person’s walkway, bring a meal to a neighbor who is not feeling well or volunteer at the local SPCA.
9. Spend time with friends – make a conscious effort to remember this. Write notes in your calendar to call a friend and make time to do something together. Friendship is such a precious thing, so we should not take it for granted.
10. Do something creative – whether it is writing a poem or a short story, painting a picture or a room in your house, or taking a photograph. Doing something creative is energizing and makes life better.
So there you have it, ten ways to live a better life – non of which are expensive – but which will make you happier and your life better.