So your best friend got the promotion she wanted. Your brother is going out with the girl of his dreams. Even your parents are enjoying their retirement and posting pictures of their adventures on Facebook. Everywhere you look, people are enjoying themselves; they are happy, they are wealthy, and they are successful.
Still struggling to figure out what to do with your life? You don’t exactly hate your job, but you don’t love it either. You spend more time scrolling through other people’s Instagram feeds and wishing you were the one in those photos — because let’s face it, people want to see success, they want to see wealth, they want to see the best life has to offer.
And when you don’t have stuff like that to share, it feels pretty miserable. It impacts your mental health and well-being.
“Where’s my happily ever after? Why isn’t my life as great as theirs? Why do some people have everything? Why can’t I be happy?”
These questions and much more come into your mind over and over in the quiet hours when you are not immersed in the world of social media or living through the lens of other people’s lives. These are the hard, uncomfortable moments that shine a light on your reality, harshly illuminating every corner of the life you find lacking or unfulfilled.
These are the moments of discomfort and disquiet that keep your thoughts going round and round in circles. Their inevitable outcome: you feel depressed, anxious, unworthy. Wondering where it went wrong for you. Or what quick fixes you can use to make it all better. And you’ve spent so long thinking the same cycle of thoughts that there is no room for new ones to come in.
During these moments it’s easy to forget that what you are basing your judgements on — those posts on social media, those snippets of conversation, those texts and emojis — are often just a snapshot of people’s lives. Those glamorous selfies, perfect makeup, and stunning smiles are but a moment.
When you begin to compare yourself to others — to who has the more beautiful body, more money, more luck, more time for luxurious travel — your brain does everything it can to confirm your theory. It’s the same when you see a photo of someone standing next to an expensive car — you automatically assume that the vehicle is part of their opulent lifestyle — it’s one of the many toys they have. In reality, they may have just posed for a selfie with someone else’s car parked on the street or in a showroom.
Yes, there are people with considerable wealth. Some have spent their lives working to amass their riches, while others are funding their lavish lifestyles with money from their inheritance.
Hating people for what they have doesn’t help you feel better. Yes, you may experience a temporary high if you say something mean, but the dopamine kick fades away. And let’s be honest — deep down, you know that the mean things you think, say and do are not you. You wouldn’t necessarily say these things to a person’s face, so why do it anonymously?
In the end, you are only hurting yourself. The time and attention you could have spent on building your wealth and attracting abundance, you chose to scuttle away on negative thoughts and actions. You are better than this.
I am not going to offer you a get-rich-quick scheme because I don’t have one. So if you are reading this to find ways of making money fast, getting famous or living high — I’m sorry; this is not the article for you. What I can and do offer, though, are ways you can live your best life now.
Your best life is one in which you are happy, fulfilled and content.
Your best life is one that is meaningful, inspiring and prosperous.
Your best life is one that is authentically yours.
There are three things I’d like you to remember to live your best life now:
You are perfect as you are. Yes, you read that correctly. You are not broken, not damaged, not unworthy.
Whatever you think you’ve done, the limitations you feel you have, the flaws in your persona, I accept them all. Just as you are.
Does that sound radical? Why?
To me, you are not a broken appliance that needs fixing, that needs its parts replaced, that needs to be thrown out completely so you can start from scratch.
You are a masterpiece in the making. You are not finished yet and won’t be until you draw your last breath.
It is far easier to achieve what you want the moment you acknowledge and accept yourself.
When was the last time you celebrated you for who you are?
If you try to change everything about you at once or start naming your flaws, you get trapped in the negative, deficit mindset. And let’s be honest — you know your list of imperfections, of what you think is wrong with you, by heart. It’s that never-ending track that continually plays in the back of your mind.
You’ve spent all this time trying to change yourself, and it hasn’t worked. That weight you were trying to lose has come back faster, more stubborn than ever. That picture-perfect, clean-and-clutter-free house is back to being a mess of chaos. Those relationships you value so much have once again spiralled into dysfunction, destruction and despair.
So why not, just for a change, accept yourself as you are — anxieties, insecurities, imperfections and all?
Living your best life now isn’t about changing everything about yourself all at once. It’s about accepting who you are and starting the process one thought, one breath, one step at a time.
Your complete presence is required. So no more checking out from reality. No more running away to check Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or any other pseudo-reality, where it is more interesting to live the lives of others while ignoring your own.
Yes, these are beautiful distractions, and there are places within it that offer guidance, support and solace. But to get there, you first have to wade through a mountain of ads, fake news, and sensationalized click bait, and the distractions are too powerful at times. And even when you do manage to get through to where you were going, your energy levels are so depleted that you only give a minute fraction of your true capabilities.
Your presence and your attention are divided and scattered across multiple platforms, tabs and ads. That fear of missing out is in full force, so you spend longer, looking through the posts, clicking, scrolling, liking until hours have passed and you have completely lost track of time.
When was the last time you blinked? Ate? Slept?
When you are present, you are aware of what’s happening. This sounds simple, but how many of us are aware of what’s happening within and around us? How many of us are in touch with the needs of our bodies, our minds and our hearts? How many of us are really paying attention to our surroundings? To what is happening right this very moment around us?
By this, I don’t mean what’s happening in the world miles away from you. I am speaking of the place you are sitting or standing, of the sunshine or clouds above you, of the smells and sounds around you.
Your attention is your greatest asset — for where you place your attention is where you commit your energy, your time, and even your money. The things that you focus on grow, regardless of what they are. And what you focus on you are asking for more of, again, regardless of whether or not you are aware of this.
Living your best life now requires you to be present in the present moment.
This means not being lost in the past, ruminating or reliving memories, of the he-said-she-said moments, or wondering about the what-ifs. This also means not being lost in a future fantasy, in the limitless possibilities of what could happen.
Yes, there are moments when thinking about the past or planning for the future is important, but to do so, you have to be aware that your attention is in those places. Without this awareness, all that’s happening is mindless roaming. Your thoughts wander from place to place unchecked and undisciplined. And when depression, anxiety and unease set in, you have no idea how you suddenly ended up there.
Being fully present means you are not checked out from reality. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in fantasies, in daydreams, in the lives of others. And it feels good. Really good. Dopamine kicks in, and we are on a high. Our troubles are forgotten, and we have escaped to a place where we are in control. Don’t like something? Change it. Easy. Instantaneous gratification. And when we finally come back to reality, there is pain, heartache and despair. Nothing appears to have changed. Or if it has, it’s unlikely for the better.
If you can’t find the courage to face reality, to live in the present moment, to spend the time required to see things as they are, how can you possibly shift them to be the way you want them to be?
Living your best life now means being present through the good, the bad and the ugly — and recognizing that shifts come when we are true to ourselves and turn up again and again regardless of whether there is ease or adversity.
Now that you are present: participate.
Awareness is all very well and good but there is little point in being present and just watching life — your life — go past. There are moments when being a silent witness to our thoughts, feelings and situations is warranted (read: meditation sessions and retreats), but there will be times when you are required to partake in life. Even the most diligent of monks, yogis and meditation masters connect, communicate and collaborate with their peers, their environment and the wider world.
You have this life, this body, and this mindful awareness. Use it.
Use it to brighten someone’s day. Use it to help others. Use it to make the world a better, a kinder place.
Participation requires three things of you:
A. To show up.
B. To be present.
C. To carry out your actions with ease.
A. Showing up can be the hardest task, requiring you to be physically present.
All you have to do is to take it one step at a time. Think about how a child starts learning to walk. It’s a bit like that. A child learning to walk doesn’t become a sprinter overnight. And no matter how many times a child falls, she never says, “Right, that’s it, I’m done with this whole learning to walk thing.” (She also probably doesn’t have a vocabulary big enough to accommodate these words yet, but you understand where I am coming from).
Children persevere holding onto the kind, supportive hands of friends, family and loved ones, using tables, chairs, or anything they can find to prop themselves up, always focused on the one step they are taking. This innocence, tenacity and persistence always pay off.
Your pace may be different from others, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you showed up.
B. Presence is your awareness of this moment, of this Now.
Just like the child learning to walk, your awareness has to be fully in the present moment. Distraction fragments your attention, your energy, and your focus, making you less efficient and more prone to mistakes.
Multitasking may seem productive, but all you are doing is spreading yourself thin, performing routine tasks on autopilot and buying into the illusion of productivity.
Yes, takes get done but it’s the quantity rather than the quality that’s emphasized. When you give your full attention to something, you gain clarity, insights and understanding, as well as a deeper understanding of that moment in time.
C. Being fully present allows you to carry out your actions with ease.
There are no doubts, no fears, and no hesitations. Why? Because you are being your authentic self. There are no scripts to remember, no smooth pickup lines to rehearse and no emotions to fake.
Words become your friends, flowing effortlessly in conversations. And people know when you are being genuine, honest, and sincere. Living is easy because you are no longer hiding behind a mask, telling one lie after another and desperately trying to keep track of them, lest you be discovered as a fraud.
You will not win everyone over, and that’s okay. That was never the goal to begin with anyway. Only those who value your authenticity and your uniqueness will remain. And these will be your most valuable allies — people you can count on — your network of strength, solidarity and support.
Living your best life now is not a destination, but a journey itself. It is a process through which you experience happiness, success, and contentment every step of the way.
It won’t always be easy, for in life you will experience grief, heartache and pain. But when these times come, you are able to approach them with dignity, with authenticity, with the deep, inner knowing that these experiences are part of being alive. Sharing sorrows and joys with the ones you hold most dear, and appreciating that just like everything else in life, there will be a moment when this, too, will pass.
Living your best life now isn’t about comparing it with those of others. It’s about acknowledging and accepting who you are, being mindfully present in whatever comes your way, and choosing to participate as your authentic self. It’s being accomplished, yet humble; strong, yet vulnerable; gentle, yet bold; and, firm, yet kind.
So go on, live your best life now. Your life. Not anyone else’s. What are you waiting for?
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Thank you for choosing to read this story. If these words resonated with you, please share this moment with your loved ones. Yours, in appreciation, Alexandra
© Copyright Dr. Alexandra Domelle 2018
Dr. Alexandra Domelle is a Mindfulness Coach, Author and Meditation Teacher. She is founder of The Mindful Moment, a growing community of people wanting to live happier, more fulfilling lives. Alexandra is author of The Book of Now: Quotes and Messages to Bring Your Awareness to the Present Moment. She has been practising meditation and mindfulness for over 15 years. Her writing focuses on mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality, drawing on her personal experiences, academic training and professional work. She is an invited author at Thrive Global and founder of Love, Only Love notes, a project designed to inspire women to discover the magic, beauty and wonder of life.
Originally published at medium.com.