Illustration: Wenting Li
Get a grip on these five essential keys to help you establish priorities and put the extra back into not-so-extraordinary living.
A few issues ago, I wrote about the benefits of unpacking some hefty emotional baggage. Our mantra that month was "Let it go" (read it again at canadianliving.com/letitgo). It seemed to strike a chord with many of you who wrote to me about not only your successes giving mental dust bunnies the heave-ho but also some novel ideas regarding other bits of old luggage that were collecting dust and doing nothing for your well-being. (Shout-out to a certain brave soul in Red Deer, Alta., for ousting that toxic man-child in her life.) Ready for the sequel? OK, hold on….
No, seriously: Hold on. That's Part 2. Sometimes, on the beautifully messy and unscripted journey through life, we lose our grip on the things that are truly important—essential, even—to living our best lives and being our best selves. We get so busy with the work of living, so consumed by our many roles and responsibilities, that when we take a moment to look up, we've detoured way off course.
Sound familiar? If so, here's your "hold-on handbook" to help you establish priorities and put the extra back into not-so-extraordinary living. Ready to get a grip?
HOLD ON TO…
YOUR SENSE OF SELF. As we cycle through jobs, relationships and years, we tend to change roles the way we change clothes. We get good at wearing multiple hats—a professional hat, a partner hat, a mom hat, a friend hat—but the parts of ourselves that aren't put on for the benefit of others can get lost. Who are you when you aren't playing a role, when you're feeling free and untethered from rules and social restrictions? That self is the self you need to guard closely.
YOUR SENSE OF COMMUNITY. A community can be a group at work, at church or on your street. Whatever it is, plugging into a population of people reminds us we're part of a larger whole. Contributing to that community assures us just how vital we are—an essential spoke in a wheel that keeps turning something larger than we're turning.
YOUR SENSE OF SPIRITUALITY. Spirituality is defined not by religion but by some sense of magic or wonder—or the divine. In those moments of childlike marvel, we find healthy perspective, inspiration and restoration. Yet, spirituality is the first thing we skimp on when time gets tight. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods or a short meditation or prayer, but attuning to the awe-inspiring is food for the soul.
YOUR SENSE OF PURPOSE. You likely know precisely what you need to do every second of every day. You have your weeks and months mapped out and accounted for with military precision. You have a to-do list as long as your arm. But why do you do all that you do? Why do you return work emails while laundering hockey jerseys and raising funds for the (fill in the blank) charity? A sense of meaning ignites motivation, fuelling our efforts. Without it, we're automatons, sleepwalking through our lives.
YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR. Sometimes, life is hard; sometimes, it's intense. But it doesn't need to be—not all of the time. If we can laugh at ourselves, our situations, our human foibles, the rest is so much easier. A good laugh can heal hurts, lift spirits and help centre and reconnect us with what's worth holding on to in life.