How to Create a Life That You Love
Your soul chose this life to experience all the things only being a human can offer. This includes the exquisite pain of moving through life knowing that at any moment you can die. You have the ability to feel empathy and sympathy, and the knowledge that your actions will have consequences that ripple out far beyond your imagination.
You are here to experience everything you possibly can, and that includes pain, sadness and anger. Humankind has those three experiences perfected; we are masters at hurting each other as well as ourselves. But I don’t know if we understand how to truly be happy.
I know I definitely didn’t - until now. Five years ago I inadvertently started down a path that would lead to true happiness and joy, but only after traveling through a deep, dark, shadowy forest. I’ve gone through the things of nightmares and found my way back to my light, deeply rooted within who I am in this world. What I’ve learned during this time will hopefully help you through your own journey in the forest as you travel towards creating a life that you love. A life that lights you up.
You deserve to have a life you love. Feeling happiness, lightness, joy, peace and contentment are also meant to be part of the human experience. In order to understand what they are (and actually appreciate them) you need to feel the darkness and heaviness. Your capacity for love is equal to how much you pain and fear you feel. This is awesome if you really think about it - however awful you’ve felt, you have the ability to feel equally joyful!
I know it can be hard to see how to get there, but it is possible. I know, because I’ve personally done it. I’ve gone from hating myself and my life so much I was going to end it to being grateful for every moment of every day, even the ones that are hard to experience. It took time, diligence and patience, but now I live from a place of hope, happiness and freedom. And it’s definitely a lot more fun!
Ten Vital Elements to
Creating a Life You Love
Create a self care team
I sincerely mean a team. Life can be fucking hard, and it can take a lot to get through the rough periods. You need a group of people who can help support all the parts of you - physically, emotionally and spiritually. All these pieces of your being work in tandem to create your experience in this world. Pain in the body can be caused by emotional or spiritual imbalance, but it can also create imbalance in those aspects. While you are the only one who can live your life, it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
Here are some examples of people to add to your self care team:
A doctor that is kind, listens to you, and believes you
Massage therapist (here’s mine)
Acupuncturist (here’s mine)
Counsellor (I prefer narrative therapy over cognitive/beahvioural)
Life Coach (here’s mine)
Womb Steward (here’s mine)
Shaman/Spiritual Healer (here’s one I love)
Friends who know more about alternative healing than you do (this is how I’ve learned about things like yoga nidra, reiki, cannabis, spirituality… everything really)
Reflection: Make a list of who is currently on your self-care team, and a separate list of who or what you would like to add. Include what qualities you want (and don’t want) for whoever you bring onto your team
Practice: Book any appointments you feel called to at this time. Ask for recommendations for practitioners for the spots you’re still looking to fill, and try out the ones that feel right for you.
Worth noting: I don’t see all of these peeps regularly all the time; most are just on an as-need basis.
Be open minded
There are times it can feel like you’ve thought of everything or done everything you can. But: you don’t know what you don’t know. Keeping an open mind, and trying things you’ve never thought of may be the key to finding your way back to yourself. No matter how outlandish or weird it may seem to you, there are reasons things have worked for someone else. There’s of course no guarantee that it will work for you, but there is a chance. And when you’re feeling lost and hopeless, that chance is better than nothing, isn’t it?
Whenever I get pushback on this concept, I always ask: what if it’s the one thing that could help? And if it doesn’t, what’s the worst that can really happen? Often, the worst is just that you stay exactly where you are. And if that’s the case, isn’t it worth the effort in hopes things will be even a fraction better?
Reflection: What’s one area you’re currently feeling stuck in? What would be your ideal outcome for this situation?
Practice: Brain dump every possible way of getting there, no matter how outlandish or unrealistic. Sometimes the most ridiculous option is the best one, or it can make you realize the solution is much simpler than you thought. you never know!
Find something to believe in
What drives you? What is your purpose? How does the universe work? Do you believe in God, Goddess, Angels, Spirits or just energy? What happens when you die?
Whatever you believe in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the truth or real. It simply means it’s true to you and is the compass you use to navigate your life. Believing in something bigger than yourself helps you make sense of the world. It honestly helps make the hard times bearable to believe that they are happening for a reason, and that you aren’t alone on this journey.
You also don’t have to convince anyone else to believe what you do; you’re the one who has to live your life, so live it in a way that makes sense to you. Not sure how to find what you believe in? Refer to second and eighth items on this list; keep an open mind and learn everything you can. Pay attention to what resonates and feels true to you.
Spirituality does not have to be rigid or dogmatic. It does not have to be part of a group or organization. There are truths in every story; when you hit on what it true to you, you will know. You might feel a deep sense of relief, or a sudden “a-ha” moment. But as long as you can connect to something bigger than yourself, you will find it easier to surrender to the flow of life instead of always fighting it.
Reflection: List out what you believe in. How do you think the world works? Is there a higher power? What happens when you die?
Practice: Look up one religion or spiritual practice you are curious about. You don’t have to implement it or believe in it, but understanding different ways of seeing the world is more beneficial than you can possibly imagine.
Build a relationship with yourself
How intimately do you know yourself? Do you take yourself out on dates or ask yourself questions? Is asking yourself “how are you doing” foreign and uncomfortable or a natural habit? Have you taken the time to build a friendship with your inner voice and inner child? Do you like spending time in your own company, or know your deepest desires and dreams? Or have you spent all your time focused outwards, on other people and making sure their needs and wants are taken care of?
The only person who will be in your life from birth until death is yourself. Seriously think about that. Do you want to spend your life with a partner or friend who ignores you, belittles you, or doesn’t even like you? Or do you want to be with someone who builds you up, loves you unconditionally and supports your dreams? The only person who can truly give you those things for your entire life is yourself. You deserve to be loved and cherished, even if you’re struggling to see that.
Every relationship requires baby steps to build up love and trust. Here’s some baby steps I suggest adding into your days to build a loving relationship with yourself (obvs these can apply to the others in your life too).
Make time to check in with yourself. Whether it’s a longer morning ritual or just spending five minutes before bed journalling, take time each day to ask yourself these questions:
how are you feeling?
what are you looking forward to?
what are you grateful for?
Thank each and every part of your body for all that it does! I like to do this before I start my day while stretching, but in the shower or while putting on body lotion also works. Don’t forget about your skin and organs; they’re pretty damn magical.
Reflection: Answer the questions laid out in the first two paragraphs.
Practice: Pick one or two practices listed above and gently begin adding them to your days.
Make your outer world reflect your inner world
Making your outer world a reflection of who you are on the inside is very important. Taking the time to curate your space, wardrobe, relationships and roles is time devoted to nourishing yourself. In order to do this in a fulfilling way, you need to actually know yourself. You’re taking the time do something that makes you happy, which reinforces the belief that you actually deserve to be happy.
Having your outer world reflect who you truly are also serves as a reminder to stay true to yourself. You’ll be clothed in items that remind you who your best self is and surrounded by things you love. This makes it easier to make harder decisions in a way that is in alignment with your authentic self.
Reflection: Go in your closet and have a look. How do you feel? Do you want to wear everything in there? Do you feel good in your clothes? What needs to change?
Practice: A Course in The Art of Personal Style is designed to help you do exactly this. Check it out here.
Find out what lights you up
And do more of that. Sounds simple, but when you’re bombarded with messages about what you should do and who you should be, it can be fucking hard. It’s difficult to follow your heart; if it wasn’t we would all already be doing it. But it’s equally hard following a path that doesn’t light you up and leaves you feeling down and dark all the time, isn’t it?
The key to integrating this element into your knowing what actually lights you up (basically numbers four and five on this list… almost like it was planned that way hehe). You will also need to get comfortable with saying no, which leads us to the next key aspect of creating a life you love.
Reflection: Make a list of ten things that make your heart light up or feel like you get into a flow state.
Practice: Do one thing on that list a week (or day if you really want to challenge yourself!)
Learn how to say no
I challenge you to say no to three things a day. Literally just no. No explanation, just a simple “no” or “no, but thank you”. Try it out and you’ll see exactly why this element is so important to master.
Most of us are taught that saying no means you’re selfish, and selfish people are bad and unloved. Which leads to a whole bunch of people pleasing and neglecting caring for yourself. It’s what’s led to an epidemic of busy-ness, and a huge factor in burn out.
We are not robots. We cannot do all the things or be all the things to all the people and still have something left to offer ourselves. Saying yes to something means saying no to something else. Think of your “yes” as a limited, yet essential, resource. The only way to renew this resource is by using some of this energy to replenish yourself. If you give all your energy away to other people, eventually you will run out of having anything to give. Then life will force you to learn how to say no in the most brutal of ways. I highly suggest integrating this lesson on your own terms!
Reflection: Make a list of things you’ve said yes to this week that you don’t truly want to do.
Practice: Say no to one of the things on your list.
Study everything you can
Anything that tickles your fancy deserves a second look. Studying anything that catches your attention deepens how you see the world. It can show you different perspectives, teach you new skills, and help you tap into empathy and compassion for yourself and others. And you never know when something might come in handy - it’s good to be prepared.
Learning new things helps you develop connections with yourself and other humans. You get to find out what you like and bond over it with people who are interested in the same things, or teach someone something they’ve never heard about! It also helps keep your brain healthy, as you integrate new knowledge and practice using your memory.
Perhaps most importantly: it’s humbling. You’ll realize you really know nothing compared to the vast amount of knowledge just floating around in our world. That you aren’t better than anyone else, or that anyone is better than you; we’re all just humans trying to find our own path.
PS: There’s a reading list here to help you get started; these are all the books that’ve helped shape who I am today.
Reflection: Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to learn about.
Practice: Pick one thing on your list to either google and find articles about or find a book/audiobook to dive into.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you
Who lifts you up? Makes you feel good about yourself? Are there people in your life who are doing things you aspire to? Or are they stuck, stagnant and living the life you’re trying to leave behind?
The people in our immediate circle have the biggest impact on us. We can pick up their habits, beliefs and goals. When you’re surrounded by humans who live authentically, are always trying to grow, and are happy with themselves and their lives, this rubs off on you. Likewise, if they don’t treat themselves with respect or kindness, or have narrow minds you not only subconsciously pick up on this, but they can make it hard for you to follow your own path. Hurt people hurt people; it’s not always intentional, but it’s what happens.
If you’re just beginning your journey back to yourself it’s important to have at least two or three people in your life who are living in a way that inspires you. You don’t have to cut everyone who isn’t out of your life, but begin to pay attention to how you feel around them. You also don’t have to keep anyone in your life who doesn’t treat you with kindness or doesn’t respect your boundaries.
Your time and energy are valuable. Be mindful of who you spend them with.
Some questions to ask yourself when curating your relationships:
How do I feel when I’m with them?
How do I feel after spending time with them? Talking with them? Thinking about them?
Do they support my dreams and goals, or make fun of them?
Do they listen to my beliefs with an open mind or belittle them?
Do you like who you are when you’re around them?
What role do I play in this dynamic?
It’s also important to remember that the people in your life act as mirrors; they show you where you aren’t showing up for yourself. While it’s important to have high standards for who you allow into your life, if you are having issues with someone it’s equally important to look at what role you play in that situation. This points you to where you still have some healing to do, whether it’s learning how to say no or practicing forgiveness. Trust your intuition with your steps forward.
Reflection: Make a list of the five people you spend the most time with and answer the questions above for each of them.
Practice: Everytime you are around someone, make note of how you feel after being with them. If you know why you feel that way, write that down too.
Create daily habits and practices
While you can totally overhaul everything you’re not happy with in your life at once, you also have the option of a gentler route. Start adding in little pockets of the life you are striving for one by one. To add in something, you have to take something away. Eventually, maybe even without realizing it, you’’ have swapped so many things your life will look entirely different. It will feel fulfilling, peaceful and in alignment, even when you’re going through things that are hard to experience. Sounds impossible, but believe me, it can happen.
Here are some suggestions of swaps you can make:
Instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning you can:
Take three deeps breaths
Set an intention for the day
Spend five minutes cuddling with your partner, pet or pillow
Do a quick body scan, coming back into your body after sleep
Sit outside and use all five senses to take in the surroundings
Instead of watching Netflix every night you can:
go for a walk
read in the park
go for a bike ride with a friend
learn an instrument/language/new hobby
go on a date with yourself or a partner
call a friend or family member just to talk
study something new!
Instead of ordering in for every meal you can:
have pre-cut veggies on hand to make salads and bowls
do food-prep once or twice during the week so you already have food made
try a new recipe
go out for the meal so it’s more of an experience; can possibly even be a date
Reflection: What daily habits and practices do you currently have? What would you like to add in?
Practice: Pick one of the suggested swaps listed above and try it for a week.