“Stress, depression, and anxiety are caused when we are living to please others.” ~Paulo Coehlo
Many of us have visions of a better tomorrow. These visions consist of various futures, where we will lose weight and get into shape, or quit smoking and drinking, or find a career that we actually love, make more money, read that book, write that book, master that musical instrument, have more free time, and so forth . . .
Jesus said, ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’ –John 10:10
It would be natural to think that leading a ‘full’ life was a bit different from leading a simple one. The way we normally talk about a full life tends to focus on wealth of experiences and wealth of resources, and the appeal to life simply can sound like an appeal to cut yourself off from the challenging but enriching complexity of human experience.
What does it mean to live your best life?
#1 Grow in Faith.
Faith is limitless.
God wants us to have faith and to increase our faith. But how? It’s not something we can just wish for or work up on our own. How can we grow in faith?
If you live a life of prayer, reading the Bible and obeying God, you will develop a close relationship with Him. As you walk with God, your faith will grow. To walk with God is to have deep faith. Enoch and Noah are two examples in the Bible described in just such terms (Genesis 5:22; Genesis 6:9).
Walking with God means a daily relationship with Him of earnestly and consistently seeking His will. When you live a godly life, walking with God with a pure heart, you grow in faith.
Frequent, regular contact with God is essential because faith is a by-product of godly living. Faith increases over time. A bricklayer knows a wall doesn’t spring up in a moment. He must build it a little at a time, brick by brick. In the same way, we develop and enrich our faith through frequent, regular contact with God.
#2 Stop holding onto unforgiveness.
Forgiveness can be difficult. In our day-to-day people will do or say things that offend us, rather than hold a grudge – the Bible teaches us to forgive them. Having an unforgiving heart leads to bitterness, and a heart that is bitter can not love as it ought to love.
2 Corinthians 2:5-8 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
Don’t live your life in bondage to unforgiveness. Holding onto unforgiveness hurts you more than the person you don’t forgive. You miss living your best life because you are focused on someone else. I am not saying what happened did not hurt, but when you don’t forgive it hurts you worse. Your thoughts are hindered. Your peace is disrupted. Your other relationships are hampered.
Unforgiveness is like a boat anchor. If you hold onto it, it will keep you stuck in the harbor of discouragement, disappointment and depression. The only way to release yourself is to forgive. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my life.” “I am going to forgive so I can move forward and live.”
#3 Conquer your fear.
You will never find peace by holding onto fear. Your fears will attack you morning, noon and night. They want you to give up on your goals and dreams. They want you to walk away without putting up a fight. Your fears will constantly tell you what you can and cannot do.
You must confront your fears because you can’t overcome what you are unwilling to confront. Today is the perfect day to deal with your fears directly before they deal with you. The best way to gain the strength and stamina you need to overcome fear is to go ahead and do what you’re afraid of doing. It will not be easy, but with unwavering courage and relentless consistency then victory over fear is possible.
#4 Be honest with yourself.
Honesty is a huge part of self improvement and overcoming delusional thinking. To be honest with others about who you are in this world, you must first be honest with yourself. You need to uncover the person you’ve been suppressing all this time.
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
If you aren’t honest with yourself then you can’t expect to learn and grow as individual, because you aren’t willing to recognize reality for what it is. When you are dishonest, you only choose to see what you want to see, but you ignore what you don’t want to see. This may provide short-term happiness or relief, but in the long-run it’s unhealthy and destructive.
Let’s explore some of the ways that we aren’t honest with ourselves. See if any of these situations sound familiar to you: (By Madisyn Taylor)
- You hear an inappropriate joke and either laugh at it or say nothing at all rather than letting the person know it was inappropriate.
- You say yes to everything even though you sometimes feel like saying no.
- You use the excuse “I don’t have time” when you probably do have time, but the real answer is that you aren’t interested.
- You hide the parts of yourself that you deem “bad” or undesirable so that your friends will continue to call you.
- You buy fashion labels just for the labels rather than because you want a high-quality item.
- You won’t reveal to a friend that you are feeling anxiety or depression because you don’t want her to run for the hills and not talk to you again.
- You overcommit your time because you want to do everything even though you can’t possibly fit everything into your schedule.
- You tend to cower in a corner at a party or talk to only one person all night. You may judge others by how they look.
- You have unhealthy addictions.
When you have a strong sense of self, when you feel like you are a worthy person on this planet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. You don’t feel the need to be judgmental of others or gossip about others because you are secure with yourself and therefore grounded in acceptance of yourself and other people.
#5 Defend yourself against negativity.
Don’t take other people’s negativity personally. Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality – their own attitude.
It isn’t easy to remain positive when negativity surrounds you, but remember that you have full control of your attitude. Think of it this way: An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, all the negativity in the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside your head.
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. — Epictetus
Be the positivity you want to see in the world. Lead by example. You can’t always save the world, but you can make the world a better place by practicing what you preach – by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your positive space. Doing simple things like talking about positive daily events, common friends, hobbies, happy news, make for light conversations with negative people. Keep the conversations focused on optimistic areas the person can relate to. You can disarm their negativity, even if it’s just for a little while.
People who are able to discern the positive points in negative situations are the ones who prosper in the long run. So defend yourself against the ‘negative way’ and make room for a positive day.
#6 Unlock your authentic self. Stop Comparing.
Do you believe you are enough? It is impossible to know your value unless you believe that you are valuable. Remember that God created us uniquely.
Matthew 10:30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Very few of us feel comfortable being our authentic self because we don’t see ourselves as remarkable. You may resemble your father or mother, but you are not them. You may have similar skills as someone else, but you are not them. You are unique. You are an original. When you compare yourself to others, you negate the person God created you to be. You say to God, you made a mistake when you created me. The comparison syndrome will leave you frustrated and angry about whose you are. It will rob you of the joy of living out your designed destiny.
To leave an impression on the people we meet, we must first leave an impression on ourself. Don’t waste valuable time trying to walk in some else’s shoes when you have your own shoes to walk in. It is okay to be different. It is okay to live out your uniqueness. Don’t get caught up in the social media, marketing and television hype that you have to be like someone else or you are lacking. Don’t hide who you are because you think you don’t measure up to someone else. God created you to stand out and not blend in. Because if you don’t live out your uniqueness then who will.
#7 Love yourself.
It’s not selfish to love ourselves. It clears us so that we can love ourselves enough to love other people. We can really help the planet when we come from a space of great love and joy on an individual basis.
To me, love is a deep appreciation. When I talk about loving ourselves, I mean having a deep appreciation for who we are. We accept all the different parts of ourselves—our little peculiarities, imperfections, the embarrassments, the things we may not do so well, and all the wonderful qualities, too.
Proverbs 19:8 Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.
When people start to love themselves more each day, it’s amazing how their lives get better. They feel better. They get the jobs they want. They have the money they need. Their relationships either improve, or the negative ones dissolve and new ones begin.
It’s a very simple premise—loving yourself. I’ve been criticized for being too simplistic, and I have found that the simple things are usually the most profound.
#8 Leave the past behind.
We all have things that haunt us from our past. But past is past. It can be a very uncomfortable feeling that leaves you more devastated when a new problem occurs because you blame yourself for some event or action in your past. Unfortunately, self-defeating logic may dictate that if you are the common denominator of your life, then it all has to be your fault, even though it’s not.
Jesus Christ gave Himself a ransom for mankind! He voluntarily came down to earth and paid what God required, in full. Jesus died for all of us, paying for our sins with His own precious blood. Paul describes the greatness of this sacrifice in Romans 5:7-8. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
God loves you. Don’t shed another tear over your past, it’s gone and will never come back. Your past is like scrambled eggs and you can’t unscramble eggs. Whatever happened in your past, deal with it so you can move on. Don’t stress yourself out another minute over something you can’t change. You must do your best to live in the NOW and make this moment your best moment.
Don’t let anyone hold your past over you. You are not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. You let them and the world know that your past is a stepping stone for you to grow to become a better person.
#9 Live in the moment.
We live in the age of distraction. Yet one of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present.
Matthew 6:31-34 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
No one knows what the future holds; except the One Who holds the future. What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand.
THIS. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. This day.
Start to live your best life NOW.
If you are feeling depressed, battling anxiety about not being good enough or pleasing other people, take a moment to slow down and acknowledge what you are experiencing. TURN to God and know the answers you most need. That might mean meditating, talking to a close friend, or even just getting out in nature for a walk.
It’s time to take a deep breath, be compassionate with yourself, and decide who it is you want to be.
KEEP THE FAITH. Stay aware and focused and you’ll be there sooner than you think.