You are enough. You have enough.
You live in a world that constantly tells you you’re not good enough—that you’d be happier if you were more wealthy, attractive, and successful. As a result, you may have forgotten how to be happy with yourself just the way you are.
And while you may enjoy striving after goals, it’s important that the goals you set for yourself come from within, rather than being set for you by other people.
You Should Live Your Life For You
When you live your life constantly trying to fulfill other people’s expectations of who you should be, what you should look like, and how you should feel, you’ll likely be plagued by feelings of anger, disappointment, shame, fear, and anxiety.
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By living your life for others, you are being drained of the joy and energy that you could use to be truly happy.
In contrast, when you work from a place of clarity and acceptance of who and where you are in life, you live in a state of gratitude, peace of mind, pride in your accomplishments, and the grace and elegance that goes hand-in-hand with healthy self-esteem.
How do you get to the place of “enough”? How do you get past the constant clatter of other people’s expectations to the point where you can learn how to be happy again, and get back to your true passions?
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It’s important to sort through what you have, and what you’ve lost; to discard things that don’t feel right; to be open to change and to have the courage to live on your own terms—regardless of other people’s opinions.
How To Be Content With Your Life
Figuring out how to be happy with your life might sound complicated and overwhelming, but it isn’t. All that’s required is a willingness to take an honest look at your life and a 30-day commitment to create a strategic plan that will guide it.
1. Get back to your roots
You, like everyone else, came into the world innocent and free. You knew exactly what you needed to feel safe, loved, and happy.
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Over time, however, you may have become distracted from these needs by the demands of others.
Reconnect with your innocence and freedom. Explore your childhood. Talk to people who knew you when you were young and free and ask them to describe you.
You can even create a visual collage of your youth. Find actual pictures of you as a child and discover new images from old magazines or online that defined the formative period of your life to help you reconnect with who you once were.
2. Inventory the present
Take stock of where you are today. You can’t move forward in a meaningful way if you don’t know where you are in the here and now.
It might help you to keep a journal for a month, or to create a separate collage. At the end of the month, you can look at your journal or collage for an executive summary of where you are at this point in your life.
You may be surprised at what you discover. But don’t be ashamed if you realize that your place now is not where you want to be. Remember that you’re creating a catalyst for change, not an anchor of impermanence.
3. Articulate where you want to go
There’s enormous power in intentions, but most people are terrified of claiming what they truly want. They’re afraid that if they ask for what they really need, they will be denied and feel discouraged.
And while this is often true when dealing in the realms of others, it’s not the case when dealing in the realm of yourself.
Define where you want to be physically. Feel free to write it down, if that helps. Make sure you define how you want to eat, where you want to live, and how you want to manage your body.
Next, define where you want to be spiritually and emotionally. Peace of mind, serenity, safety, spirituality and generosity of spirit are typically the feelings that human beings long for, but find elusive in their enslavement to others’ expectations. Define the feelings you want to live your life by so you can start feeling them.
In the process of learning how to be happy with your life, keep in mind that your ideal life is yours for the taking. Yes, it will require work and effort. It will also require discipline and faith, but the effort required is nothing like the effort required to maintain false appearances or to chase aspirations that don’t reflect you.
In the end of this process, you’ll find you are enough, and you have enough. From this place of strength and clarity, you’ll move forward to the next phase of your life lighter, freer, and clearer.
Dr. Paul Hokemeyer J.D., Ph.D. is based in New York City where he works as a clinical consultant to the Caron Treatment Centers and maintains a private practice specializing in the treatment of individuals and their families. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, he is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and was selected to serve as a Collaborating Investigator for the DSM-5 Field Trials.
Photo by Ludovica Verna Photography