Onward and Upward: Toward a Life Worth Living

A Life Worth Living
What makes life worth living?  It’s one of the Big Questions that has haunted both mankind’s great thinkers and ordinary men and women down through the ages.

But only in the past couple decades has science begun to embrace it as a problem worthy of study.

What gives life meaning?  What promotes happiness, well-being, and thriving?  What motivates us to get out of bed in the morning?  To reach toward our ideals?  To persevere in the face of life’s difficulties and challenges?

How can we, both individually and collectively, learn to live better lives?

Peering through the lens of science (with occasional ventures into additional sources of wisdom, experience and thought), those are the questions this blog has set out to explore.  As we begin a new year, I’ve doubled my dedication to bringing you the clues I find to their answers.

What We Know

Before you can ask how to move your life in a more fulfilling, happier direction, you need to ask a more fundamental question:  Is it possible to change my life?

The resounding answer to that was stated back in the 19th Century by William James, the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States according to Wikipedia, and one most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced.  Here’s his famous proclamation:

 “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

Zoom forward to the 21st Century and we find psychologists talking about the neuroplasticity of the brain, and the multitude of ways that we can indeed alter our lives.  Vast waves of studies from psychology , psychobiology and social psychology labs gush into the journals to tell us what works and what doesn’t.  We’re on the brink of wonderful new breakthroughs.  We have much to discover and learn.

But the one fabulous certainty is that change is possible.  Of that there is no doubt.

How to Change Your Life

The second thing we know for sure is that we human beings are messy, often unpredictable critters, living in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.   There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the puzzle of how best to change your life.  We can know what works for many, but it may not work for you.

The only firm ground in the “how to change your life” field is this:  You have to know what it is that you want to change, and you need to want it with great fervor.

What you’ll find here at Positive-Living-Now is a smorgasbord of things you can try, of practices that work for many.

Then, as Kathryn Britton, Associate Editor for Positive Psychology News Daily suggests:

“Try something. Then contemplate what happened. If it worked, great! You’ve got something to practice and make into a habit. If it didn’t, great! You’ve got a chance to learn more about your own particular way of living in the world, something that nobody is going to capture in a book. Just as good science requires being ready to learn from ideas that fail, good living benefits as well.”

Begin at the Beginning

The place to start is to think about the areas of your life that you want to take to greater heights.  What do you want more of in your life?  What do you want to eliminate?  What do you think would bring you the most lasting sense of fulfillment?

Take time to sit down and actually write out a list of your desires.  Then refine it; narrow it down to the two or three things that you want the most, and devote yourself to making these your focus.

Once you know what you want, you can search through the Article Index here for resources.  Or drop me a line and let me know what you’re interested in and I’ll consider it for a future article.

You can contact me, too, for affordable personal coaching  in your area of focus and move forward faster with the encouragement, support, and enhanced insights that personal coaching offers.

And keep checking back here for new ways to move forward.  I post new articles about every ten days.

Onward and Upward

What’s important to remember is that you do have the power to change your life, to live with more zest, health, happiness, achievement, love, and meaning.

All it takes is deciding what you genuinely want and then doing the things that will move you in that direction—one experimental little step at a time.

And I only have one question to ask you:  Why not?

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If you found this article valuable, please remember that “sharing is caring,” and pass it on.

You might also enjoy:

8 Power Questions for Discovering What You Really Want

Finding Meaning in Life

Illustration by duchesssa

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If You Want to Change Your Life

Good intentions aren't enough. Reading about how to change, or dreaming about what to change isn't enough. To materialize a change–to give it existence in your material world–you have to pull the intention or dream from the realm of thought into the realm of doing.

Reaching for the Rainbow“If you want to change your life, you have to change your life.”  The first time I heard that sentence, the profundity of it struck me so strongly I almost literally fell off my chair.  It was one of the major “Doh!” moments of my life.

Oh sure, I read the truism about doing the same thing and expecting different results a hundred times.  It was one of those things I thought I knew—just because I had heard it so often.  Fact is, I had fallen into the “I already know that” trap.

As I’ve mentioned before (and, trust me, will mention again and again), “I already know that” are the four most dangerous words in the English language when it comes to genuine self-growth.

Now suddenly, this restatement of the old truth in new words hit me right in the gut.

If I wanted to change, I actually had to make changes.  I had to stop doing some stuff and start doing other stuff in its place if I wanted to make my life different.  I had to let go of a piece or two of an automatic routine in order to make room for a new behavior.  I had to trade some familiar turf for something new.

Moving into 3-D

Good intentions weren’t enough.  Reading about how to change, or dreaming about what to change wasn’t enough.  To materialize a change—to give it existence in your material world–you have to pull the intention or dream from the realm of thought into the realm of doing.  You have to usher it across the threshold from the dimension of ideas into the living 3-D world.  At it’s base, that’s what trans-form literally means—to carry something across that line that separates one form and another.

Grasp that and you have the ultimate key to creating a life that mirrors your best dreams.

In your dreams, are you feeling joy?  Appreciation?  Gratitude?  Are you strong and vibrant?  Proactive?  Creative?  Dynamic?  Is your life filled with enthusiasm and meaning?  Are your relationships intimate and alive?

What would you like more of in your life?  Health? Mindfulness? Optimism?

One Little Thing

Here’s what to do.  Spend a little time thinking about what the parts of your life that you would most like to make better.  (You can use the Dream Creation Diagram as a guide.)  Think about how it would be if your Best Self were expressing fully in that arena.  How would it look?  How would it feel?  How would it be different from the way you’re operating now?

Then commit yourself 100% to moving in the direction of your ideal.  Pick one little action you can begin today that expresses the way you want to be experiencing that part of your life.  One. Little. Action.  And do it every day until it’s a natural part of your day.  Stick with it.  That’s what 100% commitment means.  No waffling.  No giving in to the old pattern.  No days off.  And absolutely no quitting; you get right back on the horse if you fall off.

Use whatever self-development tools you know that appeal to you to move you toward you chosen ideal.  Start studying about the behavior or attitude you want to adopt.  Look for models.  If you can’t find one, make one up.  Daydream about it.  Journal about it.  Focus on it in your meditation.  Make a vision board.  Develop a tracking system.  Use affirmations and positive self talk.  Let it become your magnificent obsession.

And every day, do your One Little Action–your one little, gentle, simple action–no matter what.  Because if you want to change your life, see, you have to change your life.

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For another way to get started on making changes–and building your positivity at the same time–see our Best Self Positivity Practice.

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