***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
It can be hard to think about what helps us to personally feel fulfilled when we receive so many messages from different sources about how we “should” live our lives.
We’re told we “should” build a successful and lucrative career, get married and have children, buy a big house, and achieve other materialistic milestones in order to be happy, successful or find meaning in life.
These kinds of absolutes that we are taught to live by don’t allow for much flexibility or freedom to break the mold and pursue goals or dreams that are unique to you.
This article challenges this cookie-cutter mentality and encourages you to filter out the noise and start focusing what you truly want in order to create a life that you love.
Let go of what you think your life “should” look like
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to live. How you choose to live your life is a very personal choice. To find true satisfaction, you need to let go of what you think you “should” do and redirect your time and energy towards what you feel is important, meaningful, and revitalizing – whatever that may be for you.
Do you have a vision of starting a side business with the hope that it will one day become your primary role?
Would you like to volunteer with a cause that is near and dear to your heart?
Are you comfortable with the idea of living in a smaller space if that means you can be in a neighbourhood where you feel you will thrive socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?
Do you want to let go of toxic relationships so that you can focus on those relationships that fill your cup and help you feel energized?
Reflect on what works well for you and use that as a framework to start mapping out a new pathway for your life.
Pause and check in with yourself
Take a moment to pause and check in with yourself the next time you make an important decision that impacts your time, energy, or well-being.
Slowing down gives you a chance to think things through and turn your attention inward.
Notice what comes up for you internally in terms of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
Do you feel excited and hopeful? Do you feel like there is a weight off your shoulders and that you feel lighter?
Or do you feel anxious, stressed, and that there is a pit in your stomach?
This information can give you some clues as to what you may want to do next.
Honour your needs
Don’t give in to the pressure to follow social norms or the expectations of others if that makes you feel depleted, demotivated, and demoralized. Prioritizing your mental health needs to take precedence over appeasing others.
Make an informed decision that is in tune with what feels best to you - rather than doing something due to feelings of guilt, worry, or shame.
Acknowledge guilt and other complex emotions -- and choose to move forward
Guilt and other difficult feelings may arise as you take a different approach than what is typically accepted in your family, social circle, community, religion, or culture.
You can acknowledge the guilt and recognize its presence - but try not to let that deter you from doing what you need to do for your self-care and well-being. It can be hard being an independent-thinker but it can also come with may benefits.
Be intentional about how you spend your time
Think about what would bring you joy and focus on doing more of that in your everyday life.
Make plans with friends. Spend quality time with your partner. Explore ways to get involved in your local neighbourhood or community. Learn a new hobby or interest that brings meaning and purpose to your life.
What other things would you like to do to feel more invigorated in your daily life?
Take some time to think of all the ways that you could find more happiness and contentment. Then get started on creating a life that you love.
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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