Want to know how to enjoy life more? Some people believe that to enjoy life, they need to do things like:
Earn more money
Have the perfect relationship or friends
Become well-respected or famous
However, plenty of people have these things and more and are still unhappy.
The Vietnamese monk and 'father of mindfulness,' Thích Nhất Hạnh, wrote, "So many conditions of happiness are available – more than enough for you to be happy right now."
But if there are already so many things to enjoy in life, why don't we enjoy every day?
Because learning how to enjoy life takes practice.
We need to cultivate a positive mindset, develop good habits, and fill our life with meaning. Still, there's probably no better skill to practice than learning how to enjoy life to the fullest, right?
Here are 10 things you can do to enjoy life more.
1. Practice Gratitude
It's impossible to feel both grateful and unhappy at the same time. It's that simple. Try it and you'll see what I mean.
No wonder many scientific studies have found that being grateful can improve self-esteem, reduce negative emotions like envy, and reduce the risk of major depression. Grateful people also tend to take better care of their health, exercise more, sleep better, and have lower levels of stress hormones.
So, if you want to learn how to enjoy life, start practicing gratitude.
For example, you could start a gratitude journal or simply begin each day by writing down three things you're thankful for, such as, “Today, I am grateful for this nice cup of coffee in my hands, the book I’m reading that’s teaching me so much, and my adorable cat.”
2. Work on Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of being fully present and aware of where you are, who you're with, and what you're doing – without being distracted by thoughts, judgments, or emotions.
Or, as the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle puts it, "Wherever you are, be there totally."
When we learn how to enjoy the moment, we can become calm, focused, and happy.
To practice mindfulness, start by removing things that distract you from your environment, like social media, TV, and music. Then, quieten your thoughts by not paying attention to them and instead, focus your attention on your breathing.
You could also practice mindfulness by learning to enjoy the simple things in life, such as:
Going for a walk in nature and observing the sights and sounds
Doing some exercise and feeling your body
Taking pleasure in the small things, like a cup of tea or a hot shower
3. Put Yourself First
It's hard to enjoy life every day if you never put your own needs first.
If you want to feel content and peaceful, you need time to relax, have fun, be productive, explore new things, and develop healthy relationships.
So, the next time someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, consider saying no. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be kind or help others. It just means that you need to take care of your own needs first.
Protect your time and energy. You deserve it.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
We all make mistakes and miss the mark sometimes. Be kind to yourself in these moments. Whatever has happened has happened. There's nothing you can do about the past except to learn from it. This could be incredibly tough in the beginning, but it gets easier with practice.
Look deeply, and you will discover that you deserve to be happy regardless of who you are, what you've done, or where you're going. You deserve to be happy just because you're alive.
Give yourself permission to be happy and at peace in this moment.
5. Rest and Recuperate
It's pretty challenging to learn how to enjoy life to the fullest if you're tired, burnt out, or stressed.
We all need time to rest and recuperate.
However, there's so much happening in the modern era – we have to work, study, do housework, keep up with COVID-19, manage our finances, take care of family, and more.
"It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing," writes Thích Nhất Hạnh. "Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems."
So, make time to learn how to relax and enjoy life.
For instance, you could take a quick nap, read a good book, go for a short walk, or even take a weekend trip somewhere quiet.
6. Celebrate Small Wins
These days, social media can fool us into believing that life is about hopping from one experience or achievement to another. But life is not made of achievements or experiences – it's made of the moments between them.
Don't just celebrate milestones – after all, they only happen once every mile. Instead, learn how to enjoy life by celebrating every step of the way.
For example, don't just enjoy the exam results and business profits – enjoy every hour spent studying and every happy customer you serve.
7. Invest in Yourself
Investing in our personal development is an act of self-love.
When we do this, we're prioritizing our wellbeing. We're also developing our self-awareness, which breeds self-compassion, acceptance, and happiness.
Look for ways to improve yourself, and enjoy the process.
For example, you could take a free online course, journal, workout, meditate, or read a self-development book.
8. Nurture Positive Relationships
Having positive relationships in our lives is essential to feeling truly happy and content.
In fact, the biggest study on happiness ever conducted found that "spending time with other people made study subjects happier on a day-to-day basis."
So, work on improving your relationships with your close friends and family.
To help, you may want to learn more about the five love languages, which are different ways people show and interpret love. Understanding both your and your loved ones' languages can help you to improve your relationships.
9. Meet New People
Not everyone has lots of close relationships in their lives. Plus, sometimes we can outgrow friendships and need to establish new connections to take their place.
Remember, community and connection are essential to our happiness and wellbeing.
That said, with COVID-19 forcing so many people to self-isolate, making new friends has only become more challenging. However, it's still possible to strike up new friendships online with the help of social media platforms, Facebook groups, and online course communities.
Start interacting with others online over a shared passion, and enjoy the refreshing perspectives and personalities that become part of your life.
10. Consume Less News and Social Media
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to enjoy life more is to reduce the negativity in our lives – and one of the simplest ways to do this is to consume less news and social media.
"It can be damaging to constantly be reading the news because constant exposure to negative information can impact our brain," says Annie Miller, MSW, LCSW-C, LICSW.
What's more, a new study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology concluded that social media causes negative effects on wellbeing – primarily depression and loneliness.
So, cut some of the negativity and save your attention for things that uplift you.
You could even use a tracking app to help you understand how you spend your time on social media and news sites.