There is a reason I write about certain things on this site. Cooking, dining, reading, exploring…doing these things help me live life to the fullest, just as it should be lived. Here’s my own recipe for how to make the most out of life.
My number one tip is to prioritize. Everyone has a different set of things that make them happy. First, make a list and figure out what’s important to you, especially the “non-negotiables,” aka: the must-haves. Then, organize your life around making sure those things are a common presence. For me, food, family, and alone time top the list. I spend less money on clothes so I can eat at fun restaurants because a good meal means more to me than a new dress. I live far from my family, but I get very blue if they’re not always around so I make sure we talk on the phone several times per week and there is always a visit planned (whether me to them or them to me) so we see each other, on average, every other month. Finally, I go crazy without a little me-time so I’ve learned the importance of saying no. These may not be your priorities – I won’t judge what is. The important thing is to put emphasis on what you deem important. I don’t care about my hair, but if a blowout is the one thing that makes you feel great, make sure to budget a trip to Drybar once a month.
Find a hobby. For me, it’s cooking. I don’t really care what your hobby is; I just think everybody needs a cathartic activity.
I think it’s important to read or watch TV. Yes, TV. I gobble up books, but some people just can’t get through them. TV won’t actually rot your brain. It’s all about expanding your mind so if books aren’t your thing, watch a documentary. Note: reality shows don’t count.
Explore. Travel is awesome. I’m a big fan. I love seeing new places and learning about other cultures, but it can be cost prohibitive. And, not to sound like an old lady, but sometimes I’m so worn out from traveling that I need another vacation to recover. That’s why I highly recommend taking a walk. Walking through a new neighborhood can be as enriching as a new country. And don’t discount how great it is for your mental health. I allow my thoughts to wander and come up with my best ideas during my walks. It also helps me work out my problems just by giving them time to breathe.
Keep up with the news. I was bad about this for a very long time and only really cared about pop culture. But then I realized I wanted to actually know what was going on in the world because of the whole knowledge is power idea. Really, though, my motives were a little more vain. I wanted to look smart and worldly at cocktail parties. I walk around anxious when I don’t know what’s going on, like I’m going to be called on in class and won’t know the answer. Eliminating that anxiety means I’m calm and when I’m calm I am free to enjoy life. I’ll never be someone who sits around watching CNN so I turn to aggregators like The Week magazine or The Skimm e-newsletter, which give me the news in a witty tone and without a political slant.
Have a dance party. I have a getting ready ritual. I pump up the music (suggestions: The HitList music channel on your tv or Pandora’s Country BBQ station) and dance around in my underwear and, sometimes, my heels. It always puts me in a good mood before a night out and nobody wants to be in a bad mood when meeting up with friends (and I guarantee the friends don’t want that either). It’s also great exercise. As Elle Woods says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”