Most of us remember a time in our youth when we were full of energy and excited to be alive. Everything was new and fresh and interesting. As we get older however, our enthusiasm for life can slowly fade. Tragedies occur, we lose our innocence, people disappoint us or maybe we disappoint ourselves, our bodies age, and life seems to get more difficult.
When you live in grayness and misery everyday, you’re missing out on the best of what life has to offer. The ultimate secret is to not only be excited when life is good, but also to be able to hang on to this feeling when the going gets hard.
If your excitement for life has slipped away, you can do something about it. You can stimulate your enthusiasm and consciously increase it. Life can be more joyful despite your problems. Here are some ideas to get you going again.
First, realize that you will never have enthusiasm in your life unless you steadily put some in. You cannot draw from a well that is empty. Norman Vincent Peale calls it the “as if” principle. If you are lacking in enthusiasm, act as if you were enthusiastic. You’ll be surprised at how your experience will change. Others will start to respond positively to you, you will feel more energized, and before you know it, you will be enthusiastic about life. If you don’t believe me, try it for one whole day.
Second, learn to love and forgive yourself. So much misery is caused by guilt, regret, and low self-esteem. You can’t undo the past but you can refuse to let the past ruin the rest of your life. Resolve to be a better person beginning right now, and then put all of your effort into doing so. You can use the “as if” principle here too. Act as if you are a better person and you soon will be.
Third, set little goals for yourself every day. As you attain one, another one is always beckoning you. Your interest will be sustained and you’ll be continually fascinated by watching little goals add up to big ones. Nothing feels better than accomplishing what you’ve set out to do.
Fourth, quit wasting your energy worrying about the future. Worrying about the future is an excuse that you use to avoid living your life today. Muster up the courage to live in the present. Make today a good day – don’t miss a moment of it because it will be gone in the blink of an eye. Realize that as you pay attention to living well today, you set the stage for living well tomorrow.
Worrying about the future is letting your fear of the future get the best of you. Take care of today and do everything that is yours to do; let tomorrow take care of itself. This doesn’t mean that you neglect to make plans or prepare for the future. It just means that you trust you’ve done the best you can and then you let it go. Your energy will be spent in action rather than in useless worrying. By living in the present, you not only appreciate what you have; your energy is working for you rather than draining you.
Finally, know that you have everything you need to make your life happy and to live your life passionately. Stop looking for someone or something else to do it for you. Your life is passing by with each moment. In due time it will be gone. Don’t stand there watching – grab hold of your life and live it completely.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D, R. Psych.