My Keys To Living My Happiest Life
I have a deep seated love for people, I always have. I am very blessed and fortunate to travel quite a bit for personal and business reasons and I am able to meet a lot of great people along the way. One of the things that breaks my heart in my travels is the amount of people that are truly not happy with the way they are living their life. I have a huge amount of empathy for this because this used to be me as well. I hate seeing people suffer more than anything on this earth and it bothers me to my core. The silver lining that I see in so many people is that the key to their happiness is already there- it is within themselves. The saddest thought in the world to me is a person making it into the last stages of their life and instead of celebrating a life well lived, they look back and all they see is regret. Or worse than that, they take their life because they cannot fight their inner demons anymore which unfortunately has been much too common as of late.
I battled through anxiety and depression for years. Both of these challenges can be soul crushing, life crippling, and dangerous to your life and health when battled over long periods of time. I was fortunate enough to go through my own hell on earth and be able to turn my life around in order to better help those around me. My goal for compiling this list of tools that I have used to fight anxiety and depression to live my fullest life is not to tell you how to live your life- it is to give you an insight into what has worked for me and hopefully you can apply a few of these to your life as well. We will still always battle both of these aspects of life over the long haul but the key is to manage our bouts of anxiety and depression and not let it rule our lives.
Get Out Of The Victim Mentality
Horrible shit happens to us all. We all go through hard times, struggles, and failures. Some people's stories and injustices are far greater than what any of us can comprehend. But some of the most successful people that I know on this earth have gone through the worst shit and have become far greater because of it. The story you tell yourself is much more important than the things you have gone through. You have the choice to tell yourself that your life sucks because you have had horrible things happen to you or you can tell yourself that you are so much stronger because of the things that have happened to you and made you who you are. Change the way you look at things and watch the world around you change.
Embrace Failure, Change, and Struggle
Without struggle and failure, we will never become all that we can be. Failure is one of the most beautiful aspects of life. It shows you what you are made of, how resilient you can be, and allows you to grow like nothing else on this earth. I have learned to love and embrace failure and change and it has launched the trajectory of my life in a completely different direction. Look at failure as life's ultimate teacher, put your ego aside, and reflect on how you can grow and do things different. Keep trying new things, keep failing, and watch your perspective on life change for the better.
Have you ever been around someone so negative that you literally thought the sky was going to fall down on their head right in front of you? It is human nature to focus on the negative because it is around us every day with the news, work, family, and friends. However, all of the positive aspects of life are all around you every single day as well. If you are living, breathing, have a place to live, a car to get to and from places, and the love of people in your life you are doing 99% better than the rest of the people in the world. Like attracts like- if you walk around everyday thinking that life sucks, then that is exactly what you are going to attract. Life is a beautiful thing if you look at it through the right lens. Live life with an attitude of gratitude and you will become grateful for all the small things in life which all add up to an abundance that you never realized.
Stop Worrying About Uncontrollable Aspects of Life
There are a lot of aspects in life we cannot control and this drives a lot of people crazy. You cannot control everything and the more you think you can, the more you will be disappointed with life. Every day you can control your attitude, the way you treat people, what you focus on, and the direction you push your life toward. Focus on those things and let other things fall where they may. You cannot control people, the way they treat you, or any of the injustices of life that may happen to you. Be fluid with life and understand that things you can't control will come your way, how you react to those things is what really matters.
Nature has single handedly changed my life. I did not discover the power and ability of life changes that nature has until I moved to Colorado. Nature has a way of healing, changing your perspective, and altering your life in a way that nothing else can. I went on a soul-searching journey for my 30th birthday a few years ago and my life has never been the same. Lose yourself in nature, connect to the world around you, and learn to appreciate the beauty that exists all around you in this world.
Technology can be a great tool that we can use to simplify our lives, improve certain aspects of it, and continue to push humans forward to the next level. However, technology can also be addictive, become a hindrance, and keep us from human interaction. Every week take time away from your phone whether that is going outside, reading, or just not having your phone on you for a few hours if possible. Who knows, you may have an engaging conversation with someone you never would have that could change your life for the better.
Religion and spirituality are completely different for everyone. I am not telling you what to believe- my beliefs have changed so much since I was a kid but I do know that in my adult life I have felt completely connected to a higher power in this world that I never felt as a younger child. This has governed so much of my life and has given me and others around me a positive change that I wish I discovered at a younger age. I know that I would not be on this earth anymore had I not had angels and God watching me through my darkest times, and I implore you to figure out your deep thoughts on this subject as it will definitely help you through the tough times to have faith that there is something out there that is greater than us all.
Find Your Passions
We all have gifts that have been bestowed upon us. Often in life, these are manifested through different passions that you may have. I am blessed to have a ton of passions that I am able to pursue and develop in my life and I try to pursue those through my work and hobbies. Find your passions and your whole life will change. They make you excited to wake up in the morning, continue to develop yourself, and inspire people around you to do the same. Keep constantly trying new things to find your passions and when you find them keep pushing yourself to develop them. Passion also has a way giving you an extra source of energy through the hard times- sometimes I have no idea how I burn through so many hard times but I look back and realize that is usually passion that helped push me through.
Creative Outlets and White Space
One of the huge releases that I have found in my life is artwork, painting, and photography. This has always been my place of white space- my place where I can lose myself consciously and go to a deeper place of thinking. Art has always been therapeutic to me and in its own right it has healed me in so many ways. It has a way of creating deeper thinking, healing the heart and soul, and has the beautiful byproduct of creating works of art in the end. My artwork and photography has never been about the actual artwork- it's about the journey, the creation, and being able to inspire others through the beauty of God and the gifts we have received on this planet.
Reading and Learning
My therapist had a lot of good sayings, but my favorite one was in regards to life: "You are either growing or you're shrinking". Growth can feel very uncomfortable for people, it requires change, challenges, and stretching of your abilities, which is why a lot of people shy away from it. But on the other side of struggle is growth. Reading is one of the best ways that I have found to constantly push my boundaries, learn about subjects I may not have been exposed to otherwise, and connect with others on a different level. Some people do not enjoy reading which makes audio books and YouTube videos a very good place for people to gain education for growth as well. Continue to push yourself and your brain everyday and you will make yourself into someone that is more knowledgeable, valuable, and a person of interest.
We are so consumed with what other people think about how we look, what we have, and our external success. Instagram and facebook have made us look at others through rose colored glasses even though most people only tend to post on positive experiences and not negative ones because of the image they are trying to portray. Focus on yourself, the things that drive you and make you happy, and the goals that you have for your life. External success will manifest itself from internal focus because you are doing the things you are passionate about and love to do while creating an environment for you to thrive. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks because they don't have to live in your head the rest of your life, you do. Keep being you, doing you, and learn to love yourself along the way.
Create a morning routine and try to stick to it as often as possible. Whether this is working out, praying, meditating, or reading these can all help you prepare to take on the day. Try not to be on social media, watch TV, or do anything mind numbing in the morning. This is the best time of the day to set your goals for the day, focus on what you want to accomplish, and gives you time to yourself to prepare for any stresses that will come your way throughout the day.
This has become instrumental in my life as an adult. This does not have to be a rigid structure of minute by minute activities and I always plan move around time to accommodate for unexpected events. But having a plan and a schedule every day allows you to allot your time to the people, events, and responsibilities in your life and frees you up to spend time on the things you love doing. This also tends to relieve anxiety due to running around like a crazy person unfocused and never accomplishing anything because you have to worry about everything.
Working Out and Eating Right
You only have one body on this earth. You can either run hard and fast and burn yourself into the ground or you can take care of your mind, body, and soul. Working out whether that's running, walking, going to the gym, or hiking is good for you. You need to get your heart and body pumping everyday and make it a focus in your life. When you eat like shit, you feel like shit, plain and simple. Eat the right foods to fuel your body and mind and you will feel tremendously better every single day. The other effect of this is that you will also look better when you trade the Oreos and chips for salads and carrots. When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you tend to make healthier, better choices on a consistent basis.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
Family and friends can be extremely beneficial in accomplishing your goals and dreams while living a beautiful life. They can also be a source of pain, suffering, and shame if you are not cognizant of the toxic ones. Surround yourself with good human beings that are loving, caring, knowledgeable, and don't tell you that you can't do something. It is really true that the 5 people closest to you is who you become. I have been blessed to have the most amazing family and friends and my inner circle challenges me constantly, inspires me, and helps me to continue to grow personally and professionally.
One of my favorite joys and sources of fulfillment on this earth is giving back. I have been donating my artwork to children's hospitals across the southwest United States for over 5 years now. This has created empathy, compassion, and love like nothing else in my life. Every time I walk into a hospital I inevitably see a child affected by an ailment of some sort that will create difficulties for the rest of their life. Nothing has a better way of putting your problems in perspective than seeing a child that may not even be able to reach your age because of a condition they are not able to control. Get out of your world and put yourself in someone else's that is suffering, all of a sudden your problems won't seem as bad as you think after all. Give back to those less fortunate around you, the world needs the good people to continue spreading love, joy, and happiness to those that struggle to see that side of life every day.
This is my favorite piece of advice and the one that has changed my life. I did not start therapy until I was 27 and my only regret is that I hadn't started it sooner. We are so afraid of what we don't know and when you are young this is especially true because most people don't want to get to know themselves. Therapy starts the process of self discovery and when you know yourself your whole world changes. Make sure you find the right therapist for you though. I was blessed enough to find the greatest therapist in the world for me my first time and he challenged me so much over the years that I became someone different entirely. Therapy can be very expensive so if you're going to do it go into it hiding nothing and being open about everything. I paid out of pocket twice a month for 2 years and to this day it is hands down the best investment I have ever made in my life.
This is a tough one and my view on this has changed a lot over the years but when I first went through depression I did not know how to handle it. I started out on one anti-depressant and it shot me into a world of hell that actually made my depression worse. It wasn't until I had a brush with suicide contemplation that I snapped out of my shit and realized I needed help. I switched anti-depressants after having a talk with my doctor and it helped me turn my life around and go into the right direction until I was ready and mature enough to address my issues with therapy. If you go this route please make sure you are completely open with your doctor and yourself about your thoughts, feelings, and if you are going through worse depression. Also, make sure you have a good doctor that believes you and will trust you. I went through hell when my doctor asked about my suicidal thoughts and he made me second guess myself as an 18 year old kid that did not even know how to handle the shit I was going through. If you get a doctor like that, run the other way. People like that have no business dealing with medicine that can make someone's life worse and possibly change the outcome of whether you are here on this earth or not.
I spent most of my younger years holding everything inside. I never shared my true thoughts and feelings with anyone and I know now why I had so much anxiety and depression in hindsight. If you hold everything in it's like blowing up a balloon- eventually you're going to explode. My explosion would manifest itself as physical tremors and shakes because I could not control it anymore. The most gratifying aspect of opening up to people is that you realize most people are just like you, everyone has their problems and struggles, most people are just afraid to share them openly. And if you are on the other side of someone talking about their issues, just listen, or try to offer helpful advice if you can. Don't tear people down or make them second guess themselves sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings. If we were more open to talk about tough conversations the world everywhere would change.
These are some of the fundamental tools that I have implemented in my life and they have drastically changed my perspective. I still deal with my moments of stress, anxiety, and sadness but I do not stay in that space and dwell like I used to. Life is so short and the second you truly believe that in your heart and soul you realize that it is not worth spending your time in that space. Love yourself, your life and everyone else in it. This life is beautiful if you let it be. It took me years to overcome my struggles with depression and anxiety but now that I have come to a better place I will do my best in life to help change the lives around me and make this world a better place. If you have come to that space please help those around you as well. People can always use an ear, especially in this day and age, and it is up to you to make this world a better place as well. You only have one life to live, make it wonderful, beautiful, and a place of love for others to be inspired from as well.
If you are struggling with anxiety and depression please check out this link for resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: