Something happened recently, which inspired me to write this blog. I sat on a train from London to Manchester when I overheard a man ring his wife and tell her he had three weeks to live...
A year ago, my uncle passed away. Until his death, I didn’t understand the impact that the death of a loved one can have on you. I was one of those people, like most, who believed that it only happened to others and death was nothing for me to worry about. The reality is, we’re all going to lose the ones we love and eventually lose ourselves.
Now I find myself thinking about life and death on a regular basis. Actually, I think about it all the time and it’s made me more determined than ever to make the most out of the time I have left.
That’s why I wanted to share the things I do to try and live life to the full. These are simple things, but in our busy lives, it’s easy to forget that we only get one go at this and before we know it, it’s gone.
1. Make time for your friends and loved ones.
Really obvious, but often neglected. Make sure you talk to your friends and the people you care about on a regular basis, even if it’s just a quick message to say hello. Try to meet up regularly and enrich your soul with the time you spend together. Make seeing your friends part of your routine and check in with yourself to make sure that they are not being neglected.
2. Don’t hold a grudge.
After my uncle died some of my family acted horrendously towards me and the anger I felt was poisoning me. It brought up memories of childhood that I’d kept buried, but I decided to forgive and prove to myself that I was strong enough to deal with this. Once I had rid my need to prove to them how they had hurt me, I felt better. Ultimately, it was destroying my mental state and not theirs. Don’t try to understand why people do these things. I tried this and it doesn’t work. I had to let it go. Now when I start to think about it, I put it out of my head and tell myself that I’d made the decision to forgive over cutting ties with them and I had to respect my own decision to that.
3. Make plans and get out more.
I was always a Make Plans and Never Stick to Them kind of girl, but now it’s about less talk and more action. If I find myself saying I’m going to do something repeatedly and then not actually doing it, I take action. Plan a day out, go for a walk, take that trip that you’ve been planning to take for the last year, get that tattoo you've been telling your friends about. Say yes to more things and no to less.
4. Look after yourself.
I’m not going to preach, but eating well and working out help to keep me healthy - mentally and physically. It’s important to find what works for you. I read somewhere recently, the one true friend you have for life is yourself so treat yourself like you would your best friend. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, don’t abuse yourself and seek to better yourself as a person every day.
5. Feel your feelings.
Life is meant to be felt - pain, anxiety, nerves, happiness, grief, anger. If life was easy and we were born with one default setting then what would be the point? Challenging yourself to feel these emotions and working through problems and tough times is what life is about. Don't be afraid to let yourself feel sad. We live in a world where there’s immense pressure to constantly be positive and happy so don’t beat yourself up about not feeling that way all the time. Also, don't be scared to talk to your friends about how you feel. I'm a bugger for not doing this, but I always feel so much better after I've spoken to somebody, especially when I feel down.
6. Be nice. Don’t be a dick.
This one’s really easy. Making others feel bad is not a good way to live and will not bring you any happiness in the long run. We all have the capacity to be a dick now and again. Learn from your behaviour and move on. Put your ego to one side, don’t be pig-headed and learn to say sorry. A sincere apology can make a world of difference.
I’ve been meaning to write about this list for a while, but I didn’t really know where to start. Hearing the man on the train has put things into perspective and I wanted to share what works for me. I hope you find this useful too.
I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and there are days when I do the exact opposite of everything on this list - I bottle up my feelings and pretend I'm okay when I'm not, I can be horrible - but over the last year I’ve tried harder to make the most of what I have. These tips are simple, and keeping them at the forefront of your mind on a daily basis just requires you to stop for a second and focus.