Monday, November 29, 2010

5 Keys to Living the Good Life

I know this is not the usual stuff I write about, but considering I've spent most of my life playing games and watching TV, I thought it was appropriate.

Who knows how much time we have here on this earth, not just as individuals, but as a race in general. I've decided to write another personal labeled article, and this one is probably going to be one of the most important things you've ever read, or I hope you give it some the very least.

This is a top 5 list I've been thinking about for awhile now and it's finally ready to be shared with he rest of the interwebs. Please give it some thought. Following these simple ideas has seriously changed the way I live my life each day.

"Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out."
Jack Buck

Wasn't sure who that Jack Buck guy was when I found the quote, but apparently he was the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals back in the 50's. I thought the quote was fitting though. It just about sums up how I feel about my life and the choices I've made throughout.

Whether you've made good decisions, bad decisions, or absolutely horrid decisions, you have to make the best of it. Which brings me to the first point for how to live an excellent life, which isn't really in any particular order. To be honest, I just prefer to write things out in a top 5 list. It just looks epic.

#1 - Learn from your mistakes

You can only truly learn from any past mistakes once you own up to it and admit you've made them. If you haven't done that yet, then obviously this won't be an easy thing to accomplish. You don't have to actually go out and tell somebody you've made a mistake, instead you just simply need to think about the important choices you've been handed so far in your travels. Make a full mental decision that you're aware of the choices you've made.

Maybe you quit a job when you really couldn't afford it, did something that ended a truly awesome relationship, or spent your last bit of cash on something that you really shouldn't have. There isn't a human being on this planet that hasn't made a mistake, that should be something you already know. All you need to do is fully understand that you've made them too, and that it's absolutely fine. Learn from your mistakes. Think about the past and make sure to apply what you've learned to use in the present. You should be a much stronger and smarter person because of the experiences you've encountered. Which have lead you to exactly where you are right this very moment.

#2 - Take chances

I've lived most of my teen and adult life afraid of what will happen tomorrow. Thinking in this fashion has got me nowhere, I'm virtually still in the exact spot I was when I quit high-school so I could move out and get a job about 10 years ago. I can't remember a single time where I took a leap of faith to get something I personally wanted. At least until recently when I started this blog and changed my entire perception on just about everything. If you have dreams, pursue them. Don't let anything get in your way. Especially other people.

I understand it's never going to be easy for anyone to just stop what they're doing and move on to something else. You do however, really need to understand that you only have one chance. Just a single lifetime to do what you want to do, not what you assume you should be doing according to what everyone tells you.

YOU are what truly matters, nothing else. Listen and learn from what you experience, but don't let other people control you. If you take the time to understand how your brain works, you'll live a much happier life. Listen to your thoughts, don't ignore them simply because you don't understand them. Pay attention to "could be" opportunities that you're presented with and make your move when it counts. You need to be be 100% conscious with your personal thoughts and you'll be better for it. Take some time each day to sit in silence - I do it every single day when I wake up - think about what you want to do with your life. Don't just simply and easily follow what others tell you to do. Take control and make a change when it's necessary.

If you've always dreamed of traveling, do it. If there's a girl you like that sits near you in home-room, talk to her. If you want to spend the rest of your life playing Call of Duty, go for it. Seriously. As the cliche goes, you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

If you're clever enough to read this far into this article, then you know that you won't get very far or learn very much by adhering to the easy route in life. You can't just suddenly decide that "Beginning today, I'm going to play Call of Duty 24/7." You seriously need to figure out how to get where you want to be, and how to be wholly positive about getting there. If you're at all like me, then you've always thought you were meant to do something awesome. If you truly believe that it's to play video games for the sole purpose of mind numbing, face-blasting awesomeness, then maybe you seriously need to rethink your goals.

#3 - Find something you passionately care about

Find out what you're strengths are. For me personally, I've spent all my personal time in the past either drawing pictures, playing video games, or watching television. 80% of that time was often spent alone, and obviously in front of a television. Just months ago, I finally accepted that I needed a change and I'm sure most of you interweb folk have a similarly depressing story, and if not, then you're already a step ahead. Sure, I still play lots of video games and watch television, but it's all in how you go about it. When you really need to be taking care of your family, going to work, or laying off the cheese-its, and yet you're sitting at home learning absolutely nothing. You need a change. You shouldn't need me to tell you that though.

What do you enjoy doing? That is probably going to be the most important question you ask yourself. It certainly was for me. It will never be as simple as "Drinking beer and hanging out with friends." It always goes much deeper than that.

Take a few minutes to think about how you've spent the majority of your time. Perhaps it's spent doing something creatively productive like drawing, writing, or public speaking. Or maybe you spend your time with something financially or physically productive like working a full-time job. Maybe your time is spent being socially productive by going to parties and having strong connections to other people. Whatever your personal experience is, think about how it would make you feel to do it for the rest of your life.

If you've been working a full-time job for years and it's not something you want to be doing. Find something else to do with your time and quit. Don't waste another second assuming that you're stuck in the life you're living. If you're doing it because money is important to you, and yet it makes you unhappy when you come home every day, something is definitely wrong there.

I've watched my dad come home from work exhausted every day and drink himself silly until he doesn't care anymore. There isn't a day that goes by where he doesn't begin drinking before 8am. I don't want to live like that. I've finally understood that living a life like that is absolutely lazy. There isn't a single person in my life right now that would agree with me in the least bit. But I honestly feel that settling for what you currently have, even though it clearly doesn't make you happy, is lazy. My father has taught me lots of things, but this is probably the most important.

My dad knows a hell of a lot about what he does too, about 30 years worth of experience, and if he took the time to figure out how to manage his time properly, he could live a much better - and naturally happier - life. Use the time you have to find something you're good at and exploit it for all it's worth. There is no excuse for unhappiness. Life is what you make of it so get out there and find something positive to be passionate about!

#4 - Relax

That's right, relax. Today's life-style is always running in high speed and everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. Slow down before you hurt someone. Seriously. There are times where it's crucial to pick up the pace of course, but the majority of your time should be spent sitting back and taking things in slowly. If life is a race, why the hell would you want to get to the finish line before anyone else?

When someone asks you a question, don't just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Take some time to think about what you're honest answer is. If it's a conversation that's taking place online, then there is absolutely no reason why you can't take the time to find your true thoughts on the matter. There is nothing that bothers me more than stupid Facebook arguments or people that take things out of context, all because they didn't take the time to think things through clearly and concisely. You have plenty of time to keep your cool and make sure everything is just right. There's no excuse.

Of course, in everyday real life conversations you don't often have that kind of time. Outside of conversations though, who says you have to rush? Think for just a minute, what is so important to you that you forget altogether that you're not the only useful human being on this planet? Some people just automatically think that their lives are more important, that they need to "get there" ahead of everyone. Life is not a race that needs to be won. If you slow down for awhile you'll eventually realize that everything else slows down right with you. People have control over more things than they realize. Taking time to smell the roses - as the saying goes - gives you more time to pick up on things you normally wouldn't. There are more things going on in this world than most people realize. Take some time-off from your super busy schedule and you might be surprised at what you find.

I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday, it was absolutely necessary for me to always have the newest video games as soon as I heard about them from friends at school. There was never enough time to eat, sleep, or go outside, because I felt that time was running out. I was always in a rush to finish those games. Maybe it's just something the majority of people don't grow out of when they get older. You see parents rushing to get breakfast ready, and go to work. You watch a lot of television and there's hardly anything on there that shows true patience. It's all about shooting first and asking questions later.

I highly doubt that you, the reader, are probably this type of person because you obviously have the patience to read this article. But a lot of people out there don't bother. Flying by the seat of their pants they jump from one thing to another without even taking the time to think about what they're doing, or what's going on around them. You may see them cut in front of you in the super-market, or rush by you in traffic without properly signaling. Don't be one of them. Human life here on Earth is fascinating, take the time to figure that out for yourself. Relax so you can savor the important things you might have around you like food, sex, human emotion, music, technology, nature, and science. Just to name a few. After writing about relaxing however, you need to rush if you're injured, chasing a criminal, about to miss your bus, or are about to have a baby.

#5 - Be positive

Before you can be completely positive about any given situation that comes your way, you need to recognize the negative thoughts you have brewing in your brain. Much like recognizing those past mistakes, you need to be aware of the negativity we all hold inside. I still fight with it from time to time myself. I'm not pretending to be perfect at all with this article. I'm far from it actually. I've just learned a lot from experience. There are many times where I'm down on myself, or the world around me, and it's not until awhile later that I realize what's happened along the way. It's all about self-doubting. Don't do that, it's very bad. Recognize it, and snap out of it!

Self-doubting is a natural response and sometimes it's hard to avoid. When something bad happens it's a natural response to believe that you're at fault. Sometimes bad things just happen, all you can do is learn to accept the situation and move on. Turn it into a learning experience.

There's no doubt that without lots of practice I wouldn't be able to pull myself out of negative situations and turn it into a positive one. The best personal example that I can give is how I've had times where I struggle with my current living situation. I live with my father and his girlfriend, as well as my step-brother, and there are many times where I miss living on my own and making lots of money to take care of everything myself. Eventually this will lead to either negative emotions toward the people around me, or self-doubting ones where I begin to feel that I'll be stuck here forever. Eventually, after following some of the advice I've written here, I recognize what's happening and put a positive spin on the situation. When I was living on my own I hardly saw my family, especially my dad. Being in the situation I'm in I can spend time with him whenever I feel the need. There's no doubt I'll be very thankful for this when he's eventually gone.

Negative thoughts can tell us about something that needs direct attention. In my situation, my brain obviously feels helpless and co-dependent. I sometimes feel like I need more space for myself and there's even a sense of claustrophobia at times. Understanding what's really going on in your head is of the utmost importance. Don't let anxiety get the upper hand, do something about it before it gets worse. Recognize what's happening and try changing your surroundings.

Try going for a walk. Who says you need a destination? Late at night a few weeks ago I decided that I needed to get away, so I walked until I had no idea where I was anymore. Then turned around and found my way back through the neighborhood. Although, I need to mention that I feel completely safe in my city so don't do anything stupid if you're not 100% confident in the area you live in. If it's during the day (most people sleep at night anyways, don't they?) then go for it! Changing your surroundings will no doubt help to get your mind off of whatever you're stressing about. Just sitting there and feeling crappy won't help anything.

If you're in a bad mood, try listening to some music. I would highly recommend snapping up yourself a decent MP3 player and filling it up with some of your favorite music. Or if you have a cell-phone try using that. Personally though, I would recommend browsing Talkshoe or iTunes for podcasts and do a search for something you like. There will definitely be podcast shows related to whatever you're dealing with, so go check it out. There are plenty of people out there with similar interests or problems, all of them eventually moved on and figured things out. Some people create podcasts to speak out about it so they can help people like you move on as well.

The key is to realize that everything that happens to you should be a learning experience. Just smile and keep your head up. Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Relax, take a deep breath, figure out what you're strengths are and take a leap of faith on it before you come to that inevitable final few moments of consciousness. Do you really want to be thinking about how you could have done something better with your life? I know I don't.