What causes drug addiction? Easy! Addictive substances. You take heroin and you’ll become an addict for sure, right? This is the narrative that our society teaches us. It is the reason why we treat addicts like criminals, blaming them for the choice they have made when they could have just as easily chosen a normal, conventional life, like everyone else. But what if it’s not that easy or simple? In 1970, Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia conducted a study that directly challenged the common notion that drugs are themselves the cause of addiction. They put lab rats in small separate cages, each with two water dispensers; one of them filled with pure water and the other with water mixed with heroin or cocaine. The rats would end up compulsively pressing the drug dispensing lever again and again, even to the point of choosing it over food. Soon enough, they would starve themselves to death. Sounds like the typical drug addict behavior, right? But the study doesn’t end there. Alexandre and his team built what one could call a “Rat Paradise.” Instead of isolating rats in small separate cages, they let them interact with each other in an environment 200 times more spacious than a standard laboratory cage — with plenty of food, toys, wheels, and space to mate. Their behavior and choices changed dramatically. The rats in the rat park resisted the drugged water and chose pure water instead. Even already-addicted rats weaned themselves off their addiction after they were transferred from cages to the rat park. This begs the question: were rats really hopeless addicts, or simply unhappy? Were they reacting to the drug itself, or to their confined, isolated, and depressing environment? “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti The same question should be asked about human beings. Perhaps it is not the drug itself that some find addictive, but the fact that it is a temporary escape to this sick and depressing society we have built for ourselves. Authorities continue to glorify the War on Drugs with strict laws, fear-based education, and severe punishment for drug use… while completely disregarding how our society’s very structure is designed for unhappiness. Think about it: the standard human life consists of spending the best years of our lives bored out of our minds in school only to prepare us for a job we will most likely hate, and then retire at 60 when we’re too old and tired to do the things we would have actually wanted to do. “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman I don’t know about you, but this to me sounds a lot like a little cage in which there is no time or space to enjoy ourselves, act on our deepest calling, and feel a sense of community among fellow human beings — which I believe is key to human happiness and fulfillment. This is not to say that choosing the drug over reality is the right choice, but it is, in essence, just as reasonable as the poor rats’ decision to go for “feel good” chemicals rather than stay sober inside of a prison. Both the drug-addicted rat and human are hurting… and pain needs compassion and understanding, not punishment. It is interesting to note that Bruce Alexander’s discovery was ignored and suppressed for many years. Perhaps because taking a good look at our own human environment — instead of policing our reactions to it — may spark the revolution that those in power fear. The difference between our human society and a rat cage is that we have a choice. We can continue living by the rules even though they make us miserable. We can continue escaping our feelings with substances to better cope with the way things are. Or… we can turn to each other and realize that we are the ones powering this entire society. How about we stop that and instead power up the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible? “If you feel like you don’t fit in, in this world, it is because you are here to help create a new one.” – Jocelyn Daher
The Rat Park Experiment
Modern Society: The Antithesis To Human Happiness
What causes drug addiction? Easy! Addictive substances. You take heroin and you’ll become an addict for sure, right? This is the narrative that our society teaches us. It is the reason why we treat addicts like criminals, blaming them for the choice they have made when they could have just as easily chosen a normal, conventional life, like everyone else.
But what if it’s not that easy or simple?
In 1970, Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia conducted a study that directly challenged the common notion that drugs are themselves the cause of addiction.
They put lab rats in small separate cages, each with two water dispensers; one of them filled with pure water and the other with water mixed with heroin or cocaine. The rats would end up compulsively pressing the drug dispensing lever again and again, even to the point of choosing it over food. Soon enough, they would starve themselves to death. Sounds like the typical drug addict behavior, right?
But the study doesn’t end there. Alexandre and his team built what one could call a “Rat Paradise.” Instead of isolating rats in small separate cages, they let them interact with each other in an environment 200 times more spacious than a standard laboratory cage — with plenty of food, toys, wheels, and space to mate. Their behavior and choices changed dramatically.
The rats in the rat park resisted the drugged water and chose pure water instead. Even already-addicted rats weaned themselves off their addiction after they were transferred from cages to the rat park.
This begs the question: were rats really hopeless addicts, or simply unhappy? Were they reacting to the drug itself, or to their confined, isolated, and depressing environment?
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
The same question should be asked about human beings. Perhaps it is not the drug itself that some find addictive, but the fact that it is a temporary escape to this sick and depressing society we have built for ourselves. Authorities continue to glorify the War on Drugs with strict laws, fear-based education, and severe punishment for drug use… while completely disregarding how our society’s very structure is designed for unhappiness.
Think about it: the standard human life consists of spending the best years of our lives bored out of our minds in school only to prepare us for a job we will most likely hate, and then retire at 60 when we’re too old and tired to do the things we would have actually wanted to do.
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”
– Ellen Goodman
I don’t know about you, but this to me sounds a lot like a little cage in which there is no time or space to enjoy ourselves, act on our deepest calling, and feel a sense of community among fellow human beings — which I believe is key to human happiness and fulfillment. This is not to say that choosing the drug over reality is the right choice, but it is, in essence, just as reasonable as the poor rats’ decision to go for “feel good” chemicals rather than stay sober inside of a prison. Both the drug-addicted rat and human are hurting… and pain needs compassion and understanding, not punishment.
It is interesting to note that Bruce Alexander’s discovery was ignored and suppressed for many years. Perhaps because taking a good look at our own human environment — instead of policing our reactions to it — may spark the revolution that those in power fear. The difference between our human society and a rat cage is that we have a choice.
We can continue living by the rules even though they make us miserable. We can continue escaping our feelings with substances to better cope with the way things are. Or… we can turn to each other and realize that we are the ones powering this entire society. How about we stop that and instead power up the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible?
“If you feel like you don’t fit in, in this world, it is because you are here to help create a new one.”
– Jocelyn Daher
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I love spending time with my friends, but I’m often the first to go home.
I’m fulfilled by my work as a personal coach, but after a coaching session with someone, I feel exhausted.
Sometimes I’m really lonely and claustrophobic working from home, but when I go out, I’m quickly ready to go back home.
Although I test as an introvert on the Myers Briggs personality test, most people would say I’m outgoing, sociable, and gregarious.
I’m definitely not shy or withdrawn, and I don’t have a problem meeting new people or chatting up strangers. In fact, I like doing that.
But . . . when I’m done, I’m done.
My bandwidth is limited when it comes to absorbing or offering a lot of social energy, and I’m never quite sure when the bandwidth will expire.
Maybe you can relate to this. If you find yourself conflicted about whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you might just be an “extroverted introvert” — sometimes referred to as a social introvert.
No, I didn’t just make that up. There is such a personality dynamic, and it can be quite confusing to you and the people who know you well.
For example, maybe your best friend invites you to a party, and you both look forward to it for weeks. You go out together and buy new outfits to wear to the event, you talk about it daily, and finally the big day arrives.
You’re all dressed up, you go to the party, talk to a few people, and have a drink or two. You’re having a good time, and then, BOOM, you want to go home. You’re done.
Your friend is still going strong and has no idea why you want to leave so early. Are you sick? Did someone say something rude? Did you spill something on your dress?
Nope, you just want to go home.
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be alone all of the time. Like extroverts, you may crave the company of others, even in large groups.
But as an introvert, you need to pull away sooner to recharge. Or maybe it takes you longer to recover after spending time with other people. Do you think this describes you?
Here are 10 clues you may be an extroverted introvert:
1. You enjoy other people, even larger groups.
Some introverts really prefer time alone or just with a couple of close friends. But you like social gatherings, meeting new people, and even some amount of small talk.
You can even be the life of the party or the center of attention for a short amount of time.
But unlike most extroverts, you can only take so much. You suddenly feel depleted and eager to be alone again to recharge. It’s not that you’re having a bad time. You’ve just run out of your social gas and you’re running on fumes.
2. You need time between social events.
Many extroverts can socialize all week long and feel energized by the activity. If the weekend is packed with parties and group outings, they feel excited and energized.
A social introvert may like the idea of a party lifestyle, but the reality of it would send them into a tailspin.
As an introvert, you need time between events to hunker down and recover. I can handle one or two group events a month without feeling completely drained.
Some extroverted introverts may push themselves to keep up with their extroverted friends, but it can take a toll in the form of exhaustion, irritability, and anxiety.
3. You change your mind at the last minute.
You may have planned on attending a party or event for weeks, but then on the day of the gathering, you suddenly feel the overwhelming desire to stay home and curl up in front of the TV or with your book.
Just thinking about dressing up and going out feels tortuous, even though the day before you were looking forward to it.
For introverts, it’s hard to explain the sudden turn-around to your friends. You just know that you don’t have it in you to be around a lot of people and stimulation.
4. You make connections but they may not last.
When you’re socializing, you meet people you like and have great intentions of staying in touch. But once you’re back in the cocoon of your daily life, you don’t make the effort to reconnect.
You’re not being rude or snobby. You just know how much effort it takes to build the kind of deep connections you prefer. You don’t like superficial relationships, so you tend to reach out to your established friends rather than starting from scratch.
The exception to this is when you happen to connect with someone on a deep level right away. You might strike up a conversation with someone who bypasses small talk and wants to really engage. This kind of conversation energizes you and makes it worth your effort to build on the connection.
5. You find a quiet space in the midst of a party.
In group events, you find yourself pulling away with one or two people for quiet conversation rather than “working the room.”
Or if you can’t find one person to converse with for long, you’ll make yourself useful in some out-of-the-way corner, helping the host with the dishes, checking out the books on the bookshelf, or just listening to others in the group.
You may reengage and withdraw a few times at an event before you hit the wall and need to leave.
6. Some social settings are better than others.
You might love going to a group cocktail party in someone’s home, but spending time in a crowded, noisy bar with dozens of people makes you crazy.
The energy in some groups of people lifts you up, while others can completely exhaust and deplete you.
For you, there are some group events that are just intolerable, and you avoid them like the plague.
It might take you a few negative experiences to figure out the social settings you enjoy and those you don’t. But you know
7. You find yourself asking lots of questions to avoid talking.
People see you as a great conversationalist because you ask a lot of questions and seem genuinely curious about others.
You may truly be interested in other people, but you also know that by asking questions, you’re inviting the other person to talk. This means you don’t have to talk as much. You can listen, observe, and conserve your energy.
Also, by asking questions, you can discern whether or not a person has the potential for a deep connection by the way they respond to your questions.
8. You find group settings where you can be alone.
There are times you may want to be around people, but you don’t want to socialize. You just need the energy of having others around you, but you don’t need to talk or interact.
You enjoy going to coffee shops, parks, or other places where people are around but you can remain anonymous and secluded.
This makes you feel less lonely and isolated without having to work yourself up for a big social occasion.
9. You’re in your head even when out with others.
Part of the exhaustion of socializing comes with trying to be two places at the same time — engaged with others and in your own head.
As an introvert, you spend most of your time in your head, analyzing situations, thinking about what to say, and “trying” to appear social.
It’s a balancing act that requires a lot of emotional energy. It sometimes makes you feel like an outsider at an event, observing other people rather than being part of the action.
10. Other people think you’re an extrovert.
People who don’t know you well might confuse you for an extrovert. You have the social skills to handle yourself well, and you’ll work hard at an event to make other people feel included and comfortable.
You might have leadership skills or speaking skills that make you seem completely confident and comfortable in social situations.
But those closest to you know that once you’re behind closed doors, you might pass out from overwhelm. In fact, extroverted introverts are smart to have a close friend or confidant nearby to help them recognize when it’s time to leave the party.
It’s helpful to remember that being introverted or extroverted doesn’t mean you’re completely one or the other. These personality traits exist on a continuum.
We all have some of each trait, but as a social introvert, you may have more extroverted needs than your average introvert.
Don’t be confused or upset by your shifting social needs. Just go with the flow and accept that your feelings may change from one day to the next, or even one hour to the next. Be kind to yourself and know that you’re not weird or anti-social when you suddenly feel the need to race home.
As an introvert, there may be times you need to stretch yourself in social settings for the sake of politeness or for your career. You may be required to push past your comfort zone and play the part of the outgoing extrovert.
But by understanding your natural traits and your need to recharge, you can generally prepare yourself in advance and manage these situations so you have an “escape plan” when you hit the wall.
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I recently move to Asheville, North Carolina after living in Atlanta for most of my life.
When you live in one city for a long time, you establish a lot of friends and acquaintances. I had friends in Atlanta that I’d known since high school, and others I’ve known for twenty or more years.
You take for granted how effortless friendships are that have so much time and history. You know one another really well, you know what to expect from each other, and even if you don’t see your friends every day, you know they are there for you.
Even my new-ish friends in Atlanta had some connection to my long history in the city. In addition to a circle of really close friends, I had an extended group of neighbors, work associates, parents of my kids’ friends, and service providers (hairdresser, grocery clerks, etc.) with whom I connected on a regular basis.
You don’t realize how these concentric circles of people in your life create a familiarity that feels safe and comforting. They are the mesh netting that holds life in place and gives you a sense of belonging.
I knew before I moved to Asheville that I would miss my friendships, but the excitement of a new adventure to a cool, new city quelled my concerns. The first six months felt like an extended vacation, but as winter set in and the novelty wore off, I began to miss my friends in earnest.
The last time I had to extend myself in the friendship department was nearly 30 years ago when I spent a couple of years in New York City. When you’re in your twenties, meeting new people doesn’t seem so daunting. I had a full-time corporate job in big city, and there were plenty of opportunities and fun places to meet new people.
But now I work from home in a small town, and I’m past the point of hanging out at clubs or bars to find friends. I’ve had to stretch myself to find a new tribe of people in my new home town.
Finding new friends isn’t always easy and comfortable. Sometimes, as much as you want to have friendships, you’d just rather curl up with a book than attend some social gathering or meet-up with a group of strangers. Especially for introverts, it takes a lot of emotional energy to put yourself out there.
But you can’t belly up and remain a hermit forever. You have to find a way to connect with people.
Here are 30 painless ways to meet new people and develop friendships:
1. Take a hike.
This is how Ron and I met our new best buddies here in Asheville. There are tons of beautiful hikes nearby, and we spotted a couple on the path of one long hike who were sociable and about our age.
When you’re on the trail with someone, it’s easy to strike up an authentic conversation without the distractions of daily life. When you’re surrounded by the beauty of nature, it inspires connection.
If you enjoy hiking, meeting someone on a trail means you’ve found a friend who shares your passion for the great outdoors. That’s one point in their favor already. Just remember, before you go your separate ways to suggest getting together again.
2. Get involved in a sport or activity club.
If you don’t meet someone on the trail by yourself, join a hiking club where you hike with others. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can join a running or biking group, a softball team, or a tennis league.
Find a group who shares a physical activity you enjoy and become a regular. Strike up conversations with other members and suggest meeting for coffee, wine, or beer after an event or meeting.
If you love books, a book club is a wonderful way to meet new people with a similar interest. You can find book clubs through your local book store, online, or through Meetup.com.
It’s taken me a few tries with different book clubs before I found the right “fit” with a group who shares my taste in books and socializing. If you don’t find the right fit for you, start your own club and invite other members to join.
There are so many fun opportunities for volunteering with large groups of people where you might find your tribe.
Volunteer in areas that are meaningful and interesting to you. You can volunteer as a coach, for a cultural event, or for a local art show.
If you’re not sure what the volunteer opportunities are in your hometown, check out VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, and HandsOn Network to match you with an organization who would love to have a little of your time and energy.
5. Join a MeetUp.
Whatever kind of group activity interests you, you’ll find it at MeetUp.com. Scroll through the various events in your city to find something that lights your fire, or type in your interest and see what’s available.
I’ve found book clubs, networking groups, and social groups through MeetUp.
6. Talk to your neighbors.
Sometimes the people we’re looking for are in our own back yards. Have you reached out to your neighbors lately?
If you see your neighbor working in the yard, walk over and offer to help. Or make a little extra soup or an extra dozen cookies and walk them to the family down the street.
By extending yourself just a little, you might meet some wonderful new friends within a short walk of your home.
7. Strike up conversations.
Wherever you happen to be — in line at the post office, at the grocery store, or at a concert, start a conversation with someone around you.
Have a few conversation starters handy so you always have something to say to kick off a conversation.
Yes, this might be uncomfortable at first, but if the other person is friendly and responsive, it might be the beginning of an interesting connection.
Ron and I have a beautiful white collie named Scotch. He’s unusual because he’s white (collies are usually black and tan), and he really is a handsome guy. When we take him on a walk, we get stopped by nearly everyone we pass.
Taking your dog for a walk gives people a reason to stop and talk to you. Other dogs will be naturally curious and drag their owners over to say hello (in doggie language).
If there’s a dog park in your community, take a ball or frisbee and have an outing with your pet. The odds are good you’ll meet a fellow dog lover.
9. Sit at community tables.
Find restaurants that have community dinner tables or bar tables. Rather than isolating yourself at a two-top, sit at the community table and get to know the people seated nearby.
10. Reach out on Facebook or other social media.
When I first moved to Asheville, I looked on Facebook for other Ashevillians. I reached out to a few and have met up for coffee. Through Facebook, you may discover some old friends or acquaintances that you didn’t know lived nearby.
11. Host a party.
Host your own casual dinner party or open house and invite your neighbors, people from work, or acquaintances you’ve bumped into along the way.
Invite them to bring a friend along so you expand your potential circle of new connections. You don’t have to do anything elaborate. Make a pot of soup or order a few pizzas. The point is to simply bring people together and expand your circles.
12. Find a business association.
Are there groups or associations related to your career? Research local business events and attend them so you can network professionally and personally.
13. Go to a cultural event.
Become an annual member of the symphony, local theater, or ballet. Attend the performances as well as the fundraising and member events. Strike up conversations with other attendees who are there because they appreciate the arts just like you.
If you prefer visual art, visit your local galleries, talk with the owners or managers, and discuss the art with other guests.
14. Join the gym.
One of the best ways to meet people is in a class at the gym. But if classes aren’t your thing, spend time in the weight room when it’s busy so you can converse with other gym rats.
If there’s a cafe or juice bar at your gym, hang out for a bit after your workout and connect with other members.
If you have a couple of friends or acquaintances who have a larger circle of friends, ask them to introduce you to new people. If you’ve moved to a new city like I have, maybe your existing friends know people in your new city. Ask them to make an email connection and then follow up yourself to suggest a get-together.
16. Participate in Toastmasters or another speaking club.
Public speaking isn’t fun for most people, but when you’re thrown in a setting where everyone shares the same fears and learning curve, it can quickly break the ice.
Speaking clubs not only give you the confidence to make presentations, but they also give you the chance to meet a variety of new and interesting people.
17. Go on a wine or beer tour.
I live in a city with dozens of local breweries, and brew tours are common occurrences here. If you have wineries nearby or even restaurants that offer wine tastings, join in the fun and meet other connoisseurs. Beer, wine, and socializing always seem to pair well together.
18. Take a dance class.
Ballroom dancing is a great way to get up close and personal with potential new friends or romantic partners. But you don’t have to stick with ballroom dance.
Take a jazz class, Zumba, or Salsa dancing. It’s great exercise, and you’ll meet fun people who enjoy kicking up their heels.
19. Find a church or religious community.
If you’re a spiritual person or have a strong faith, your church, synagogue or other religious community is the perfect place to meet supportive, likeminded friends.
20. Go to seminars, book signings, or speaking events.
Look in your local community guide to see what happenings and events are coming up in your area. Attend some of these events and try to sit next to someone who might be looking for a new friend too.
21. Hang out at a jazz or music club.
Do you enjoy jazz or some other music genre that works well in a smaller venue and allows for conversation?
Find a cool, low key club where you can listen to great music and start up an interesting conversation.
22. Take your book or computer to a coffee house.
When I start to feel house-bound working from home, I go to a local Starbucks or indie coffee house to work.
It’s easy to keep your head down in your computer or book, but look up every now and then and survey the landscape.
Strike up a conversation with the person at the table next to you. You never know who you might meet.
23. Hang out at the local museum.
Get thee to a museum!
Do you like art? Natural history? Science? Most cities have one or several museums devoted to something that interests you.
You’ll have no shortage of things to talk about if you chat it up with another museum-goer.
Taking a class automatically throws you into a group of likeminded people.
Try to enroll in a more hands-on class rather than a lecture course, which will allow you to talk with other students. Some kind of art class generally allows for more conversation.
Make a point to introduce yourself to other students and initiate conversation with those around you.
25. Join the board of a charity.
Do you have a cause that’s particularly meaningful to you? If so, get really involved by becoming a board member or key player for the organization.
As a leader/decision-maker in the non-profit world, you’ll be exposed to a variety of interesting people who support your cause.
26. Get a part-time job working with people you like.
If you work from home or in an environment that isn’t conducive to meeting new people, then consider a part-time job working in a more social environment.
Working just a few hours a week as a host/hostess at a restaurant, in a coffee shop, or as a bartender will give you the chance to meet hundreds of the different people.
27. Eat dinner at the bar of your favorite restaurant.
It can be intimidating to go to a restaurant by yourself, but try dining out and sitting at the bar instead. Chat up the bartender (if he/she isn’t too busy) and make conversation with the people around you.
Whatever you do, don’t put your head in a book or your iPhone. Try to appear approachable and friendly.
28. Visit your local farmer’s market.
Farmer’s markets are so much fun, especially if you enjoy cooking and healthy eating. If you do, you’ll find plenty of other people who share your food values, so make a morning of it.
Talk to the farmer’s, ask questions, and invite conversation with other shoppers. These events often have a festive, sociable atmosphere, so make the most of it.
29. Join sites for women to meet new women friends.
If you are a woman, and you haven’t met your soulmate friend yet, maybe it’s time to take some serious action.
There are new sites online similar to the Match.com concept — but rather than matching romantic partners, they match potential friends. (I haven’t run across any sites like this for men, so sorry guys!)
30. Accept invitations.
If you want to meet new people, don’t turn down invitations to social events.
Even if you think the event might not be your thing, take a chance and go anyway. You never know who you’ll meet or what connections you might make.
You can always leave if you’re having a bad time, but if you don’t go — you’ll never know!
As you practice some of these ideas for meeting new people, remember that you’ll have to push through some discomfort as you put yourself out there.
You’ll need to step up and introduce yourself, initiate a conversation, or suggest meeting up, and even so, it may take some time to discover your tribe of new friends who feel comfortable and supportive.
You can’t develop a friendship with someone unless you go through the “developing” stage, which can be a little stiff and awkward at first. Building trust, closeness, and camaraderie will be a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great social life in the meantime.
The more you put yourself in social settings, the better the odds are that you’ll meet interesting, fun new people who will improve your life, even if they don’t ultimately become your best friends.
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By Leo Babauta
There are so many benefits to exercise, from cancer prevention to brain health, from heart health to better weight management, from stronger bones to less stress and more happiness … so why is it so hard for most people to stick to a regular exercise habit?
It turns out that there’s really only one reason.
You might say you’re too busy, but if you spend any time on social media like Facebook, news sites, blogs, Netflix or Youtube … you have the time. You’re just choosing to do other things.
You might say you’re too tired, and that might be true … but actually, exercise results in having more energy over time, so the truth is that we’re prioritizing the short term over the long term when we skip exercise.
And this is the crux of the problem: we are making a choice to do other things over exercise.
It’s a choice, not a problem of time or energy.
Why are we making this choice to not exercise? If we dig down a bit deeper, it comes down to a belief that underlies the choice.
I’m going to steal from the Clean Slate blog, which talks about the myth of addiction being a disease … and says that instead, drug or alcohol use is a choice that comes down to one thing:
People freely choose to use drugs and alcohol because, at the time they’re doing it, they believe it will make them happy. At the time they do it, they believe it is their best available option for attaining happiness.
And in my experience, this is true. We have beliefs that power our choices, even if we don’t always know what those beliefs are.
What are your beliefs about exercise that are driving your habits? Here are some examples:
- You believe that exercise is hard, and going online is easier and more fun.
- You believe that if you’re tired, procrastinating or resting will make you happier than if you get off your butt and exercise.
- You believe that If you’re busy, you’ll be happier if you put off exercise.
You might not actually say any of these out loud, or even admit them to yourself. But your heart believes them (or something similar), and you act on these beliefs.
When it comes down to it, you’ve been making choices based on these beliefs. And that’s what’s stopping you from sticking to a regular exercise habit.
The Good News
Here’s the good news: beliefs are malleable. They can be changed, by your mind. And by backing up your changed beliefs with action.
We hold strongly to our beliefs, but they aren’t set in stone. They are carved in clay.
Here are some beliefs you can try on instead, like a new costume:
- I’m happier when I am outdoors and moving.
- I’m happier when I exercise every day.
- I feel stronger, more powerful, more empowered, more energized, when I exercise regularly.
- I feel better about myself when I exercise.
- I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with a good workout.
- My health matters to me more than going online or watching things.
Say them to yourself. Write them down. Put them into action, and focus on the parts of the action that reinforce them.
In the end, it takes a little time to create new beliefs, but what you’re really doing is creating a new you. Tossing out your old beliefs and carving out new ones is worth the life you’ll be creating. (Try my Get Fit for Summer Challenge.)
My Get Active & Fit Course
If you’d like support for creating a new fitness habit, join my Sea Change Program … I’ve just started a 6-week video course called Get Active & Fit, where I’ll be doing video lessons and a live video webinar on creating a consistent fitness habit (or taking your current habit to the next level).
You can try the free 7-day trial.
We’ll be doing this challenge together, discussing the fitness habit supporting each other on the Sea Change forum, and doing small daily challenges to help people learn to be fit for life. Join Sea Change here to be a part of this program.
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I recently came across a journal I kept in my early thirties where I’d listed everything I thought I wanted in order to be happy and successful.
Most of the items were things — the kind of house I desired, the car I wanted, furniture and clothes I coveted. On some level, I believed having the trappings of a successful life would translate into creating the feelings of a happy life. Once I accumulated those things, I would be fulfilled.
My perspective at the time was flawed. I didn’t realize how fleeting the satisfaction of attainment can be. I didn’t anticipate the empty feeling that follows success or the slow awareness I was chasing an illusion. Those highly desirable things I was chasing weren’t so fulfilling after all.
The joy of getting what you want dissipates quickly, leaving you with . . . what? Confusion. Restlessness. More longing.
Material things can be nice, and they are fun to accumulate — especially when they are part of a passion, hobby, or lifestyle you enjoy. But things and money and prestige don’t provide the one thing every single one of us desires. Fulfillment.
We want our lives to be deeply satisfying and meaningful — not just at the end of our lives looking back, but at every step along the way.
Living a fulfilling life requires mindfully, carefully creating your hours and days to reflect our authentic selves.
Here are 25 essential ingredients for living a fulfilling life:
1. Loving Relationships
Having loving, supportive relationships including your spouse/partner, friends, family, and work associates is the most important ingredient for a fulfilling life. Many studies support this truth.
One of the most well-known studies is the Harvard Grant Study which followed men for 75 years, collecting data about their lives at regular intervals. Love and connection with others were found to be the pillars of a fulfilling life.
2. Happiness in Work
Finding your life passion through your work is ideal. But you at least need to be happy with your profession most of the time.
You need to feel your work is important and valuable, that you are capable and respected, and that you are regularly challenged and motivated by your job duties.You spend a huge chunk of your time at work.
If you aren’t generally fulfilled in your work, it’s nearly impossible to feel fulfilled in life.
3. A Sense of Purpose
Having a greater sense of purpose or meaning for your life gives all of your choices and actions context and direction.
Your life purpose evolves over time by living authentically, working passionately, and continuing to examine yourself, your deepest desires, and your intuitive urgings.
Find a way to use the knowledge you gather about yourself to make your life mean something and perhaps create a legacy that lives on.
4. A Healthy Lifestyle
If you aren’t healthy and don’t remain healthy as you age, it’s hard to enjoy life — much less find it fulfilling.
You have to engage in life to be happy, and good health allows you to engage at an optimal level.
Exercise and mindful eating not only foster good healthy, but they also provide a general sense of positivity, well-being, energy, and self-esteem.
5. A Positive Mindset
Positive thinking isn’t simply new age psychobabble. Consciously shifting your thoughts away from negativity and worry to more positive, grateful, and happy thoughts actually changes the neural pathways in your brain.
As you think, so you will begin to feel and believe. Positive thinking reduces stress, improves your relationships, and can increase your life span. By choosing positive thoughts, you are being a creator rather than a reactor to life.
6. Serving Others
Serving and helping other people — whether as a parent, a teacher, a helpful neighbor, a volunteer, or a community activist — provides a sense you are doing something greater than yourself and your own needs.
Service is especially fulfilling when you serve from a place of love or life passion. Be even the most mundane service can give you a sense of fulfillment and peace, knowing you’ve provided comfort, reduced suffering, inspired knowledge, or effected positive change.
7. Experiencing Now
All of life is experienced in the present moment. When you dwell in the past or focus too much in the future, you aren’t truly living.
To experience life fully, you must remind yourself that right now is all you have. Make all of your “right nows” count by focusing on the task at hand or experience you are having.
8. Perspective About Challenges
Many of us view life challenges as negative, frustrating interruptions to the life we really want. We try to avoid difficulties by tip-toeing around life to avoid the land mines.
When we step on one, we’re debilitate and view ourselves as unlucky. However, with a bit of time, perspective, and a shift in thinking, you’ll see how challenges actually enhance your experience of life.
Challenges teach us, allow us to become more empathetic, humble, and fearless. Challenges will happen, so allow them to add to your experience of life rather than to diminish it.
9. Creative Expression
We all have creative abilities in our own areas of interest, and we need to express our creativity.
As creativity author and speaker Sir Ken Robinson reminds, “Creativity is a process of having original ideas that have value. A big part of being creative is looking for new ways of doing things within whatever activity you’re involved in.”
Creativity involves challenging yourself to fulfill your potential, which in turn enhances all other experiences of life.
10. Knowing Your Values
To be fulfilled in life, you need to know what’s most important to you.
What are your life priorities? Where do you want to spend your time and energy?
Take the time to define your most critical life values. Use these values as a benchmark for making decisions and choices. Here’s a list of 400 values to help you.
11. Having A Vision
You can use these values to help create a vision for your life. When you proactively create your life based on your values, your interests, and your goals, you set the foundation for fulfillment.
Your vision doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it does provide a roadmap and general direction to help narrow your choices based on what you want the most for yourself.
12. Appreciating Beauty
All beauty, whether its in nature, music, art, dance, or physical beauty, enlivens our spirits and elevates us beyond the mundane and ordinary.
It provides aesthetic pleasure and enhances our sensitivity to pattern and order on a very sophisticated level by increasing our perceptual skills.
13. Embracing Failure
Failure never feels good in the moment, but after an appropriate amount of grief and second-guessing yourself, you can learn to use failure to add to your fulfillment.
Failure is evidence of action and risk. It reminds you that you had the courage to try.
If you seek to learn from it, it opens you up to growth and learning to use in the future. Don’t hide from your failures. Examine them and squeeze all of the knowledge you can from them.
14. Enjoying Aging
Most of us fear and dread getting older. We don’t want to watch our bodies change. We don’t want to experience a decline in our health. We fear the reminders of our mortality.
But studies has shown those who enjoy getting older and focus on all of the positives of the second half of life tend to live longer. This is part of a positive mindset.
Without all of the demands and responsibilities of your younger years, your older years can be your most fulfilling.
15. Releasing The Past
When we dwell in the pain from the past or constantly reminisce about our glory days, we cut ourselves off from experiencing the present moment.
If your past is causing you pain, seek professional support to help you resolve the pain and let it go. Remember, the only reality is the present moment.
16. Showing Kindness
Being kind is such a simple act, but it is so powerful. We have a choice in every interaction or encounter to offer kindness or something less than kindness.
As you practice kindness, especially in relationships that are challenging, watch how your behavior transforms the connection. Watch how that transformation fulfills you.
17. Focusing on Gratitude
Happiness researcher and author Sonja Lyubomirsky has spent years uncovering what makes people happiness.
Her research confirms grateful thinking fosters happiness. According to Lyubomirsky, it “promotes the savoring of positive life experiences,” as well as bolsters self-esteem, helps people cope with stress, strengthens relationships, and encourages positive behaviors.
18. Taking Some Risks
When you grow more comfortable with the possibility of failure, you are better able to take calculated risks.
It is through risk that we make the biggest leaps, open ourselves to the most life-altering opportunities, and dare ourselves to be more than we once thought we could be.
Shift your mindset about risks to see them as exhilarating rather than paralyzing. Those who are most fulfilled in life are those who dare themselves to take a leap of faith.
19. Seeking Personal Growth
Life is about continual learning and inner growth. Constantly seek self-awareness. Challenge your ideas and beliefs. Adopt a learner’s mind and remain open to various possibilities.
Don’t limit yourself by saying, “I don’t need self-help. I’m happy enough.” Push the boundaries of your life, and find out the infinite opportunities that await you.
20. Practicing Authenticity
You can’t enjoy a fulfilling life if you are pretending to be someone you’re not. You can’t live creatively if you don’t recognize yourself or if you’ve made the choice to live according who you think you should be rather than who you are.
If you see yourself in this description, begin a pilgrimage to find your true self. Step out of the roles that have defined you in the past.
“Our real identity, says Jonathan Wells of Advanced Life Skills, “is defined by our core beliefs, values, passions, and motives, and expresses itself through our courageousness, openness, and personal power.”
21. Simplifying Everything
When your life is simple, you have time, space, and energy to enjoy what you value most.
A cluttered life drains us, and pulls us away from what truly matters. Simplify everything — your home, your schedule, your commitments, and your tasks.
Scale back to the essential. Life is too short to clutter it with things and activities that don’t serve our values, vision, and purpose.
22. Living with Integrity
Define your own integrity. How do you see good and bad, right and wrong, uplifting or demoralizing?
What are your internal boundaries? Where do you draw the line? Once you know that, live by it.
Anything less will drag you down and undermine any fulfillment you enjoy in other areas of your life.
23. Accepting Others
Learn to release the desire to change other people so they are more like you. Accept them as they are.
Enjoy the differences and the unique qualities of everyone in your life, even if you choose a different way.
Letting go of this need will lighten your heart and foster deeper connections with those around you.
24. Offering Forgiveness
When you forgive, you are liberated. You no longer harbor the heavy load of anger and resentment.
Forgiveness frees you to enjoy fulfillment, because you are no longer tethered to the pain of the offense or the person who offended.
25. Creating New Habits and Skills
Challenge yourself to learn new positive habits and to achieve bigger goals.
Learn the skills of habit creation so you can make positive change in your life for the rest of your life.
When you know how to stick to your resolutions and follow through on your goals, you expand your experiences, relationships, and quality of life.
What makes for a fulfilling life for you? How have you transformed your life so you feel deeply engaged and gratified? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
The post Living A Fulfilling Life: 25 Essential Ingredients For Happiness appeared first on Live Bold and Bloom.
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