Somehow I Manage, Vol. 8

It’s been a long year. One that has flown by. Probably the fastest I’ve seen a college year go by. Well I missed half the year, but regardless, September, and the perils of Freshers’ Week seems like they we experienced only a matter of weeks ago. I’ve done some great things this year. Things that I have been proud of. Some not so great things. And some things that I’m not so proud of. At the end of the day they’ve all been experiences, and whether good or bad they are all part of life and they all have a part to play. If there were no ups, there would be no downs, and vice versa. Regardless, I’m another year older. Hopefully I’m a year closer to getting my degree. And most importantly I have lived in the past year.

I sit in my kitchen. Armed with a cup of tea. Decaf as a matter of fact. My sleeping pattern has been all over the place the last few months so I’m working on bits and bobs to normalise it once again. Which means decaf tea before bed, not the proper stuff. I’ve got my favourite song on repeat, David Gray’s ‘Shine’. The live version of course. And we’re going to attempt to drop some knowledge on you, and try and part with some wisdom that everyone can take on board, and hopefully apply it, and improve your life.

It surprises me that I started this blog series back in September, and that I’m only writing the 8th and final instalment now. But life got in the way, a few other things got in the way, but I’ll address them later. I started this series with the hope that I could help even one person through a rough time, or even help someone look after their mental health a bit. I know for sure that I needed to visit these skills again, and that being said, I probably should be practicing them more, but it’s always good to know they’re there if things start to go downhill. Almost like a safety blanket. Something I can fall back on to pick me up. And I hope that it has the same effect for you.

Today, I’m going to talk to you about your life, and how you live it. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life or what you should choose to do with it, what causes you support or anything like that. I’m hoping I’ll be able to advise you on how to maximise the enjoyment and appreciation of life. In today’s world, we take a lot for granted. We are incredibly privileged, although sometimes it may be hard to see that. We have opportunities that our parents never had. We have technology that allows us to connect to people halfway across the world. And as much bad things we’re exposed to in this current time, we’re exposed to some great things at the same time. I’ve updated my Instagram bio to feature this skill recently, not to look cool, but just to remind me and maybe remind others of it’s importance. This week’s skill, the final entry of the blog’s skill is..

 

BUILDING A LIFE WORTH LIVING

WHAT & WHY?

This skill is about exploring what you can do to make your life worth living. The other seven blog’s skills can help you cope with distress and manage your emotions so that life may become more bearable. They form the foundation for building a better life, but in and of themselves, they don’t make life worth living. There needs to be a balance and positive experiences which help us to build today for the life that we want to live. We need to remember how individual each of us is, the things we like/enjoy and the contributions we can make. There are a number of things you can do the help you build a life worth living.

 

HOW?

  1. Increase and accumulate positive experiences

What give you a sense of pride, achievement, satisfaction, or mastery?

What makes you feel happy, confident, calm, joyful?

If these positive experiences have been missing in your life for awhile, think of the last time you felt this way. Think of this as a piggy bank: in order to build a life with living, you have to accumulate positive experiences to help balance out the negative ones.

  • Short term: Do pleasant things that are possible now – today.
  • Long term: Make changes in your life so that positive events will occur more. Part of the weekly schedule or something to look forward to.

2. Attend to relationships

The key here is to build a network of relationships, so that all of your happiness/wellbeing isn’t invested or dependent on just one person or group of people

  • Repair old relationships that have lapsed/drifted
  • Reach out for new relationships
  • Work on maintaining current relationships

3. Consider your values and set goals to work towards

Think of values as laying the ground work for a life worth living. Select a few areas of your life where you would like to give attention to and to make changes. Some examples of areas you might want to consider include:

  • Social/Cultural/Fun/Leisure: What do you do for fun, for relaxation, for enjoyment? Do you have interests and hobbies(sports, theatre, arts, etc)?
  • Physical and Mental Health & Development: How satisfied are you with your current level of physical and mental health? Are you balanced in terms of diet, exercise, activities of daily living? Are you able to do the things you want to do? Are you still growing and learning?
  • Family/Home/Relationships/Friendships: What do you want in terms of your home and family relationships? Could you spend more time with certain people. Are there things that you could learn or be supported in. Is there at least one person with whom you can discuss important experiences? Are there people that you may spend less time with for you own. well-being? Does your circle of friends add to your sense of wellbeing & enrich your life?
  • Spiritual/Ethical: Have you ever explored your specific personal values? Is religion/spirituality/ethics important to you? If so, are you happy with the way you are practising these things, do you need to know more? Have you reconciled your relationship with a higher power, with the universe in general, or with your belief system?
  • Education/Work/Career/Financial: Did you accomplish the educational goals you set for yourself? Are there other things that you would like to learn about? Are there areas of learning you would like to explore? Do you enjoy your work/education/voluntary work? Do you feel that you are making a contribution to society? Are you living up to your potential? Have you achieved a satisfactory standard of living or is there anything else you would like to do?

    – Make a list of goals you want to achieve. Make sure your goals are SMART(Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time based)
    – Develop an action plan – write out in small, manageable steps of what you need to do to take you from where you are now to your goal
    – Take the first step – then the next and the next – what can you do today
    – This week? In the next 3 months? 6 months?

4. Decrease Quality-of-life Interfering Behaviours

Think about behaviours you engage in that interfere with your life and your quality of life. Decreasing these behaviours and considering what or who can help you to do this may be a good first step e.g..

  • Suicidal & self-harm behaviours
  • Misery & crisis behaviours
  • Therapy interfering behaviours e.g.. not attending, not completing work
  • Prematurely ending jobs, activities
  • Prematurely ending relationships
  • Avoiding situations/emotions

 

SOME TIPS TO HELP

  1. Avoid avoiding – avoid giving up
    If we avoid things that are hard, or avoid taking a chance, or avoid solving our problems, it can be hard to build positives and the world becomes narrow
  2. Be mindful of positive experiences
    It could be that you have positive emotions and experiences, but they evaporate in a second, or we let them slip past without acknowledging them.
    – Focus attention on the positive events or feelings that happen
    – Refocus when your mind wanders to the negative – gently bringing it back
  3. Be unmindful and distract from worries
    Don’t let worry destroy or overshadow positive experiences. Distract from:
    – Thinking when the positive experience will end
    – Think about whether you deserve this positive experience
    – Thinking about how much more might be expected of you now

In essence, the main point I take from this skill, is work on your life. We often have this perceived notion that life will just come to us and we’ll have good experiences. And yes, that is true. But if you work, you can really make it better, make it more enriched, make it worth living. Especially with friends, a lot of the time I just expect friends to get onto me when they’re doing some activities, but ask yourself how often do you get onto them to do things? Both people have to put in the effort. And if you don’t ask you’ll never know. If you never try you’ll never do. Hold onto and build on the positives in your life. Try and distance the negatives or minimise them. Go on that night out, on that adventure, go meet up and watch a movie, grab a coffee, go for a drive, a walk, a chat, just go do something. You never know, you may just enjoy it. The reality is, we only get one life, and a lot of the time we take it for granted, so go out, take a chance, enjoy yourself. There’s going to be a lot of bad moments in life that you can’t avoid, so you may as well try and enjoy the good ones while you can and try and have as many of them as possible. We’re still young, and you’re only young once, so throw caution to the wind. Have fun, do more, and do no take life seriously. You will never get out of it alive.

 

This is the final blog of the series. I really do hope they helped some people. It’s not the end of my blogging. I’ll most likely write some more blogs throughout summer, and if not I’ll definitely be back writing in the midst of next year. If I don’t write again till next year, best of luck in exams, enjoy your summer, and look after yourself. And remember..

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky”
– Michael Scott

All the best,
Finn