No one wants to face a crisis. No one wishes for war, drought, or pandemics. We are devastated when our loved ones receive a life-changing diagnosis, and our hearts break when our family members die.
But for some reason, when these awful things occur, they cause us to pause and reexamine our lives. Someone wise once said, “be thankful for the bad things in life. They open your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before.”
Let’s try to live our lives to the fullest, even when things are going smoothly. Here are some tips on how to start living life to the fullest—right now.
1. Have a thankful heart
A happy heart is a thankful heart.
The key to having a thankful heart is to pay attention to all the blessings in your life. Some of the blessings may be easy to spot—your health, a job that pays the bills, and a loving spouse. When times are hard, you may need to look harder for those blessings—such as the ability to gather with friends, a spring flower, or being able to spend time with someone you love.
Tip: Keep a gratitude journal. Make it your goal to find something to be grateful for every day of your life.
2. Ask for forgiveness
Who have you wronged in your life through your past words or actions? Was it an ex-spouse? Did you say something that you have always regretted to your parents or kids? Did you argue with a coworker or spread a rumor about a friend? Seek forgiveness from that person.
Tip: You don’t have to go through Alcoholics Anonymous to go through some of the 12 steps. Step 6 is “make a list of all persons you’ve harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.” Complete this step, whether you are in AA or not.
3. Forgive others
Did someone mistreat you? Maybe it was your parents or perhaps it was your boss. Does it still make you angry? Do you think about it multiple times a week? Take Elsa’s advice and “let it go.”
Tip: Remember, you can’t change other people’s actions. You can only change how you react. Take the high road.
4. Spend quality time with your parents and grandparents
Life gets busy. You work long hours, your kids are involved in a lot of activities, and you have a lot of friends and social engagements. Even though your life is full, make sure you spend time with your parents and grandparents, and ask them questions about their lives.
Tip: Schedule a weekly meal with your parents or grandparents. If you live far away, schedule a regular call. Put it in your calendar and make sure your parents know about it so they save the time for you as well.
5. Teach your children the essential things in life
It may not seem like it when you are in the throws of potty training, but time with your children goes incredibly fast. You think you have time to teach them about the important things in life, but then they become teenagers and are busy all the time.
Tip: Your children learn more by your actions than by your words. Instead of giving them speeches full of life lessons, live a life that you would like them to emulate.
6. Pay attention to how you spend your time
How much time do you spend each week on Netflix? How many hours do you spend gaming? How many Bachelors can you name, and how many times have you watched each episode of Friends? People who live their life to the fullest don’t spend it staring at a screen.
Tip: Limit yourself to a certain number of hours of TV or video games per week.
7. Create family traditions
The closest families are the ones rich in traditions. Have a cook-off every year or a card tournament every Christmas. Cook, travel, and eat together.
Tip: You may consider scheduling events a year ahead of time. This will help your family members plan trips and time with in-laws.
8. Spend time outside
Even if you aren’t an outdoors enthusiast, spending time in nature is helpful for gaining perspective about life. When you look up in the vast night’s sky, one can’t help but feel a bit insignificant. Your problems seem a little less pressing.
Tip: Spend time in nature each week, even if your version of nature is a small park down the street.
9. Be spontaneous
When was the last time you did something off the cuff? Perhaps it was something big—like going on an unexpected trip. Maybe it was something small—like surprising your loved one with a gift.
Tip: Don’t wait for a reason to surprise those you love.
10. Pay attention to your health
It’s challenging to have a full, robust life if you are always tired. It’s hard to enjoy the great outdoors and to take spontaneous trips if you are sick. Treat your body well.
Tip: We all know the importance of eating a healthy diet and exercising, but there are other things to consider, as well. How do alcohol or drugs affect your life?
11. Tell people that you love them
What if you die tomorrow? Do your friends and family know that you love them? How can you be sure?
Tip: Get into the habit of telling your friends and family how you feel about them.
12. Quit arguing about politics
You aren’t going to be able to change your brother-in-law’s mind, but you may say something irrevocable that will ruin relationships. Want to live life to the fullest? Campaign and vote for who you wish, but quit trying to change the minds of people on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Tip: Avoid being aggressive about politics. Lead by example.
13. Adopt a pet
Do you want to live life to the fullest? Why not save the life of an animal. Adopt a pet and treat it well.
Tip: You may also consider fostering pets until they are adopted. You can choose to foster a specific breed that you love.
14. Take risks
You miss all the shots that you don’t take. So ask the girl out on a date, go on the mission trip, open the small business, and start working on that novel.
Tip: Write out your bucket list and start crossing items off it.
15. Be kind to others
You don’t know what is causing that grouchy person at the check-out counter to be so unpleasant. Give them grace. Perhaps they just received devastating news. Maybe they are in constant pain, or their dad is in the hospital.
Tip: Be the person who is kind to everyone. Remember, kindness is contagious.
16. Be charitable
When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself who you can help that day. Can you spare 15 minutes to visit with your home-bound neighbor? Can you give a new pair of socks to the homeless man you see every morning on the way to work? Can you send a text to someone who recently lost her husband?
Tip: Charity isn’t always about money. We also need to remember to be charitable with our time.
17. Avoid negativity
Is your break room at work a cesspool of negativity? Are your friends continuously complaining about their husbands, kids, and in-laws? Are your neighbors always arguing about politics?
Tip: Spend more time with people who make you happy.
18. Be the bigger person
The most deserving doesn’t always get the promotion. The nicest guy doesn’t always win. Such is life.
Tip: It’s easy to become bitter when you are treated unfairly. Learn strategies to help you cope and move on with life.
19. Keep learning
Do you want to live life to the fullest? Then keep learning and growing. Take classes, read life-changing books, attend lectures, and practice a language or instrument.
Tip: It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. What do you want to learn?
20. Quit working all the time
Picture your death bed. Do you want others to praise your ability to write perfect TPS reports?
You may be lucky enough to love your job, but don’t give it all of your life. There is more to life than your career.
Tip: If you have to work more than 40 hours a week, consider working when the other members of your family are busy. Get in a few hours before anyone else is awake.
21. Put down your phone
We know it’s hard. Phones aren’t only a communication device, they’re a source of entertainment. It’s hard to put down a tool that allows us to check the weather, our bank balance, and our work communication.
Tip: Set a goal each week to lower your weekly screen time.
22. Make time for those you love
Do you want to live life to its fullest? Make commitments to the people you love and spend time with them. Living life to the fullest isn’t just about visiting every continent or climbing the summit of Everest. It’s about having a core group of people who are important to you.
Tip: Do you have multiple kids? Have a special date night with each of them several times a year. Schedule special events with your spouse. Call your mom multiple times a week, and create traditions with your siblings and extended family.
23. Set your priorities and live by them
What are your priorities in life? Not sure? It’s time to figure them out. Perhaps your list might be God, family, health, work, finances. Maybe you would add items to your list or put some in a different order.
Tip: Once you have determined your priorities, live by them. Consider turning your list into a mission statement.
What's On Your List?
Do you know one of the best ways to start living your life to the fullest? Write your own list of how to do it. What did we leave off ours?
Do you want to know another way to ensure that you are living your life to the fullest? Start your end-of-life planning. Even if you are not a member of the death positive movement, if you have those pesky funeral details taken care of, you can focus on the essential things of life.
If you're looking for more ways you can start living in the present, read our guides on how to start living in the moment if you're feeling anxious and how to write your life story.