Sometimes it feels like it can be impossible to actually enjoy life. You know the days I’m talking about. The kids are whiny. You feel like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You forgot to turn on the coffee maker ten minutes ago and now are standing with cup in hand without coffee in cup.
Some days it is so incredibly attractive to just say, “NO! I’m done! I’m out! :::tap, tap::: Where’s my relief?!”
We all feel the need to escape sometimes, and often we achieve some version of it. Television, scrolling some phone app or social media channel (guilty!), binge watching a favorite show on Netflix (guilty again!), or just trying to run away from the discomfort in one way or another.
The problem is, though, that escaping the struggles and frustrations of life doesn’t make the problems go away. They are always right there waiting for you when you return.
It’s time to put an end to escaping and instead choose to intentionally act and enjoy your life.
10 Guaranteed Ways to Enjoy Your Wonderful Life
Life is too amazing to let it pass us by without engaging in it! Here is my list, in no particular order, of favorite ways to dig in and enjoy life.
#1 Give Thanks
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find things to complain about? We are constantly bombarded with different lives and different ways of doing things, which, if left unhindered, can easily lead to comparison syndrome of the worst kind.
Instead of defaulting to complaining mode, capture your thoughts and look for things for which you can give thanks.
I am not going to lie to you. This might really be hard at first! I remember a season in my marriage where I had built up all the right mental connections to complain, complain, complain. I was miserable! But, the Lord convicted me to start paying attention to the thoughts I allowed to shuffle through my mind, and when I did I could see why I had a problem.
It took time and intention to choose gratitude. At first it was only tiny little things, like being thankful for a smile, or thankful for a house for us to enjoy. Eventually, though, it became easier and easier to find loads of amazing blessings in my life, even if frustrations and struggles remained. By practice and intentionally giving thanks I was able to enjoy life more and embrace its ups and downs.
Gratitude does not erase the presence of annoyances. It simply provides the foundation for a joyful day to live on, no matter what happens.
#2 Lean Into the Most Difficult Moments
When times are difficult our autonomic system can kick in. Fight or flight!?! But, you can shift the reaction by taking the time to breathe, think, and then act.
It can seem counterintuitive to lean into a problem when it emerges, but, running away from life does not help. Instead of running, take a deep breath and focus on what needs to happen. Then, handle the issues one little step at a time.
This process is helpful with both the little things like bedtime for a whining child, and bigger issues like an total breakdown in communication with your husband.
It frees us from being reactive and allows us to have more opportunities to enjoy life by actually addressing the things that cause disarray.
Breathe, think, and then respond with intention.
Practice makes perfect, so practice often.
#3 Spend Time with People who Fill You Up
When we live in reactive versus intentional ways, our time is filled up by default. This can mean we miss out on spending time with the people who really fill us up and speak life into our days.
If you have those people, plan a day or time in the month to schedule time together. Yes, it is okay to schedule in time to spend with friends! As adults with adult responsibilities, our schedules can fill up fast, so building in the free time for friends is a necessary reality that builds wisdom and balance.
It doesn’t have to be something big and grand either! Just coffee at your house, or simply enjoying a meal together can be incredibly fulfilling and satisfying. For me these kinds of simply gatherings are like a balm to my soul every single time.
#4 Hug Often, Snuggle More
Did you know that your central nervous system LOVES to hug? Studies regularly prove the importance of physical contact and connection with others.
A hug a day keeps the doctor away…in fact, a dozen or more are best!
Some of the general benefits of hugging and being hugged include lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, regulation of the autonomic nervous system, boost of energy, fights depression, boosts the immune system, releases positive hormones (dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin), and so much more (check out this article for even more information). How can we not enjoy life more when all of these things are addressed by something so simple?
Hugging your family is a great way to start the trend. Spouses, babies, children, and animals all count! And in fact, babies and children especially benefit from being hugged and cuddled regularly.
Hug often. Snuggle more.
#5 Free Your Creative Mind
In our fast-paced, efficient and productive culture, any of us have lost touch with our creativity. Ken Robinson has dedicated an entire career to studying the benefits of creativity in children (check out his TEDX talk on the topic).
Creativity is emotion expressed, and there is no right or wrong way to do it! Paint, draw, scribble, do calligraphy, stamp, sculpt, sing, dance, whatever! The sky’s the limit, so just enjoy life!Creativity is emotion expressed, and there is no right or wrong way to do it! Click To Tweet
I am 100% convinced that creating is the closest time we can get to experiencing the joy our Creator has in delighting in His Creations. When we create we are most like Him! That is an incredible gift.
Our need for creativity is another well studied need for our human mind to thrive and heal. One midwife (Pam England) has even used birth art as a way to help pregnant women to assess their inner emotions related to an upcoming birth, and reveal the presence of fear or confidence, and she continues to educate birth assistants to teach the same. Art therapy has proven incredibly beneficial for many pregnant and postpartum women.
There is this lie that creative play is “childish.” This is not at all true, but rather hinders our full potential to grow and mature. You ARE allowed to enjoy life, even if your version of creativity is different from others.
Whatever creative endeavors you desire, seek the Lord for a way to pursue them. I have no doubt that He’ll show you a way.
#6 Pray and Spend Time in the Word
There are enormous benefits to feeding the Spirit with the Bread of the Word. Even ten minutes a day is an excellent way to get started!
I know that there are a lot of opinions about how the BEST way to know our Abba is with hours upon hours of study, but I urge you to realize that a little bit of study each day stretched out over years and years DOES equal hours and hours, but without the cumbersome weight of this burden on our days.
Whatever time you can make to spend in the Word and with our Abba each day will benefit you. Ten minutes, thirty, or more is wonderful. He is the GREATEST medicine to help us to enjoy life and delight in His plan for our lives.
I encourage you, though, to read the actual Bible, rather than a devotional in this time, though. There is just no substitute for the Whole Word.
When we spend time in the Word we have an opportunity to spend time in the presence of our Abba and receive wisdom for life from His vantage point. Pray throughout your day, even when you aren’t in front of the Word, and He will answer you.
He loves to make Himself known to those who seek Him, so seek His guidance hard and often.
Another amazing gift we can give to ourselves to enjoy life more is the choice to forgive those who have hurt us in the past. Forgiveness is not simply letting someone walk all over us, but rather it is releasing ourselves from the burden of vengeance and “making them feel badly.” We are in effect removing ourselves from the judgement seat for the other person and saying, “Ok, Abba, this is in Your hands. I trust that You will teach _____ whatever they need to learn from this offense.”
Sometimes we are part of the teaching, when we can talk to the offender and express how their actions have caused us pain. Sometimes, though, we are not meant to teach with words, but rather teach through holding a boundary in love and firmly establishing that we will not accept certain behaviors in our lives.
Forgiveness does not remove necessary consequences.
When we forgive others we actually free ourselves. Forgiveness releases our hearts from pain and receives the lessons that any pain has taught.
Hardships provide us the wisdom of boundaries and opportunities to hold healthy lines between ourselves and others. Bitterness, anger, and resentment only serve to build walls around us that keep others out of our inner lives, which can ultimately lead to incredible loneliness and depression.
Forgiveness does not mean we allow others to continue to hurt and abuse, but rather that we hold them accountable in love. When we forgive we experience empowerment and freedom to allow us to enjoy life more without hindrance and weight.
#8 Laugh More
You know the feeling that follows a time of laughter and great times with good friends? Or, watching a show that makes you laugh so hard your face hurts?
That is why laughter is wonderful medicine for the soul. In fact, laugh therapy is even being studied to help treat various diseases of our day, including cancer (check out the pubmed article about it here).
Sometimes it can be hard to laugh. Like, when the six year old is convinced he is “big” and attempts to lift an entire gallon of milk, proceeding to quickly drop it on the floor thereby spilling milk by the cupfuls all over the floor (I have, of course, NEVER had this happen in my life…..ahem).
But, truly in those moments, I can be angry because of the burden of the clean-up, or I can instead choose to laugh at the ridiculous hilarity of the insanity of the moment! Laughter ALWAYS feels better. Always.
A cheerful heart is good medicine…” ~ Prov. 17: 22
#9 Take a Day of Rest Every Week (digital detox)
Our Abba truly knew what He was doing when He built into His commandments a weekly Sabbath. He also knew how much we try to get out of this provided rest!
Today our go-go days keep us moving and churning and going non-stop. Work/life balance is basically non-existent, unless you set some rules and intentionally do not deviate.
For us, our Saturday Sabbath is non-negotiable. This is the day we rest from it all and just enjoy life. No work, no errands, very little purchases (if any), and as much family, friends, and fellowship as we can enjoy.
In addition to no work, we are working to also do a complete digital detox in the day. There is something so critical about detaching from technology and completely focusing on the beautiful life right in front of us.
You will NOT regret adding in a day of total rest. Test it, seriously! I would LOVE to hear all about your experience!
#10 Study Something New and Challenge Your Mind
Just like we benefit from expressing ourselves through art and creativity, we also enjoy life more when we learn new things. Skills, facts, trivia, languages, etc. are all examples of the plethora of topics we can learn and study.
The brain was made to constantly learn. And today we have so much opportunity to learn a million different things. Education is at our fingertips!
With YouTube, Pinterest, and just the internet in general, basically just about anything you want to learn can be learned.
It does, however, take the intention to simply jump in and start swimming.
What is one thing you wish you knew more about, or could do? Start learning and doing. Even 15 minutes a day builds up amazing skills and knowledge over time. Jump in, get going, and enjoy!
Enjoy Life! It is a Blessing.
I know that life can be difficult at times, but when we surround ourselves with loved ones, and take the time to pay attention to all the little blessings that exist, we can endure even the hardest times and come out stronger and better.
If you benefited from and loved this post, share it so others can also enjoy!
What was one thing that you were challenged by? Comment below. <3