Live your life the best you can: 6 questions you should be asking yourself

I don’t think being morbid is such a bad thing. We should remind ourselves every day that life is precious and that this right here and now is our chance. These 6 questions can help…

1. Do you STOP and feel calm often enough?

Make a habit of just stopping sometimes, ideally in an empty, quiet room. I’m not even talking about meditation (necessarily), just the feeling of letting you brain stop whirring; letting go of the sense of urgency; releasing the tension in your chest and stomach. This is what is missing from our lives. We go through day after day, week after week, highly strung, thinking and always prepared for the next task/interaction. Acknowledge your preoccupations. Even if they’re tiny or seem stupid. Then remember the grand scheme of life and see how nothing matters.

2. Are you eating the way you want to be eating?

Stop trying to be slimmer. The motivation for eating better should be because exercising some self-control makes you feel good.

Yes, that means finding a way to accept your body as it is. Self-dislike is not a good starting point. And it’s about balance anyway, right? Because indulgence – spontaneous and carefree – can be such a thrill. Be realistic about what you’re capable of. And then make a plan.

Make sure it’s attainable and meets your needs. Carefully consider circumstances or routines which will enable you, like taking a route home from work that doesn’t pass any shops or bringing lunch from home.

Then just do it.

True altruism comes when a person has attended to their own emotional needs first and satisfied them

3. Do you spend free time doing things that you’d really like to be doing?

It’s not easy fitting everything in but make space and adapt routines. Find balance.

4. Are you able to enjoy life, even in adversity?

You might have lost someone dear, have health problems or a horrible job or someone you have to care for. Acknowledge that it’s tough and acknowledge the toll it takes on you. Be kind to yourself. When able, be pragmatic about ways to improve the situation (if it’s possible). Some problems may have no solution and you may suffer in ways that others cannot imagine or find yourself the victim of injustice. But, you are alive. And no one else is going to live your life for you – it’s down to you to make of it what you will.

In adversity, you face life’s biggest challenge. If you can even begin to cope… If you can actually find a way to enjoy your life and not let misfortune completely overwhelm you…. Even if it’s only through small things. Even if you had to grieve and let go of some things you took for granted and hoped for. If you can accept your circumstances but still find something to be glad of, and things which will interest and fulfil you, then you are truly a champion – the winner of your own race. Be proud.

And even if you do not face adversity now, be prepared for it and try to come to terms with the idea of it. Because if you don’t, it will hang like a spectre, until one day it will appear, unannounced, and you could have so much to lose.

It is good to recognise how fortunate you are but it is also grounding to feel that whatever happens, you will still survive.

5. Are you nice enough to people?

We never know how long we have before the people we care about most are taken from us. Are you the best you can be in all your relationships? We so often settle for mundanity, bickering and nagging, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With some exceptions, it only takes one person to change a repeating negative pattern.

But in order to realise these intentions, you must first ask whether you are looking after yourself. True altruism comes when a person has attended to their own emotional needs first and satisfied them – like the way parents are told to put their own oxygen mask on, before putting one on their child. In any relationship, we need to remember and maintain a connection with our separate identity. Time and space for ourselves is fulfilling but also helps us to be objective. Be honest about who your loved ones are; understand them and forgive their imperfections.

Think about all the points of tension you have with the people around you. Think about how you would like to behave, or how you could behave that might bring out the best in the other person; placate or enable them. Be a role model. If you are kind and patient, you should get kindness and patience back.

6. Do you have mental noise – bad thought habits doing you no good?

Sometimes, negative emotion is the result of real challenges and circumstances and there is very little we can do to ‘rethink’ them (other than number 4, above). But sometimes, it is not. Sometimes negative emotion is just background noise in our brains. Identify all of the subtle mental processes which do you no good. For example:

  • Admiring beauty, fame and popularity: Next time you think of someone you consider admirable, don’t let yourself be impressed to the detriment of yourself. Firstly, we don’t even know what’s going on in their heads. Fulfilment does not come from being beautiful or successful. Anyone trying to get off on their looks or success will only ever achieve the buzz of narcissism. Consider inner qualities – all the good or strong people past and present. And then, try to have a generous and open mind. Judge all people by who they are.
  • Disliking your appearance: Attraction has a lot more to do with personality than we admit. Besides, you are not sole proprietor of your body. It was a gift from your ancestors. And some people don’t even get what you have. Some people pass away when they were not yet adults. What a waste of all your years, if all you do is dislike yourself. So, let go. If not for you, do it for your ancestors or for people, long gone, who would have done anything to be in your shoes.
  • Seeking admiration from others: Let success be a unconditional by-product of doing things which you find stimulating. Wanting others to find us clever/attractive/fun is a real burden. Accept and be proud of who you are right now. Feel the relief of not needing anyone else’s approval. Feel the relief of the privacy gained when not living under the imagined gaze of others.
  • Saying untrue things to protect your ego: For example, saying that you already knew something when you didn’t really. Innocuous in some ways, but also unnecessary. Who cares if you don’t know something? Why not free yourself and accept yourself as you are. Anyone who tries to make you feel stupid has bigger issues than you. Try to see that.

Write yours down. And then relinquish them.

Love and accept yourself. Tell yourself that you are good enough for you. Tell yourself you are complete and feel it.