Can you remember a time and place where you felt good about yourself and about life in general, where you felt you were ‘you’? Maybe it was during a one-off vacation or every time you go somewhere you love? Maybe it was a place you lived in for a while or different circumstances in terms of work or relationships. Whatever it was that revealed the best versions of your life and yourself, I am inviting you to look beyond some obvious reasons why that was. When you look at all the ingredients that made your best experience, there must be some that you could use in your present life to make it better.
It took me a long time to realise why I love being in Brittany so much. The obvious reasons don’t need explaining: the ocean, the luminosity, the bluer sky, the fact that I am on holiday. These could have been enough for me to long to be there when I am in London, yet the seeker in me knew there was more to explore. What else could I learn from my experience of the place? What could I learn that would be useful in my ‘regular’ life? Why am I more creative there? Why do I feel like I am more myself there?
8 Steps to re-create your best life
- List all the things you like(d) about that time and place. State the obvious then go deeper. You might remember additional elements in the next few days so keep that list open for a while.
- Describe your then mindset. What is/was different in your thinking? Go beyond the obvious (like “I was on holiday so my mind was relaxed, not thinking about work” or “I was married so I never felt alone”). What were you thinking about or looking forward to, each morning? What was feeding your mind? This is important. Were you listening to music? Were you reading great fiction or non-fiction? Did you have stimulating discussions? Did you listen to or watch shows that made you laugh? Did your physical environment affect your state of mind? Some factors might possibly become more evident as you build this list so keep going. I find that the best information comes when I think I have finished a list but then keep at it a bit longer.
- List all the things that contributed to your well-being. How were you taking care of yourself physically, intellectually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? What was your physical environment like (the place you stayed in and the scenery? Who did you spend time with?
- Write about the things you thought you deserved then and that you stopped thinking you deserved in this everyday life. It could be food, beverages, massages, classes, outings to the cinema, the theatre, the concert, the ballet, the restaurant, the cocktail bars, the books, the magazines, and so on.
- Now answer these questions: Did you dream of possibilities that you don’t allow yourself to dream anymore? Did you have a sense that things were possible? If so, go back to your mindset description and decide to feed your mind again with those things that enhanced your positivity.
- Next, strengthen that positivity and increase your self-love by treating yourself to something you thought you deserved then (Step #4) as often as your budget allows now.
- Build your well-being again by looking at the ways you took care of yourself physically, intellectually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and re-introducing them progressively into your life, modifying them as necessary given the difference of circumstances.
- Finally, looking at the first list, look at the things you can do in your life right now to recapture what made life great. If you enjoyed walks in Nature, can you go to a park, a green space, a pond, a river on a regular basis to connect with Nature, even if it is just a few minutes (but on a regular basis)? If you enjoyed not being on the internet or social media, can you reduce the time you spend on them now? What would help? A timer on your internet router, an app or software that blocks access to some sites like Freedom, Anti-social, Cold Turkey, Self-control or TrackTime? Replacing the habit with an activity or a hobby that makes you happy? If it was sunnier, how can you increase your exposure to natural light? Going out for a short walk at lunchtime and/or long walks at the weekend? Sitting by the window more often? Getting rid of net curtains? Replacing some lightbulbs with natural light ones? If you thought the people were friendlier, can you smile to people in the street, in stores, at work and engage in light conversation at the checkout, at the water-cooler or in queues? From your first list, explore all the ways that can help you recreate a similar feeling for each item.
We are so conditioned by our environment that we end up living on auto-pilot most of the time. We forget that we can transfer experiences and feelings by simply looking at alternative ways of doing things. I believe that going through this process will enhance your everyday life dramatically.