“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”
At times it’s good to take an objective look at our lives. Are we doing what we really want? Do we feel alive and inspired? Are we happy? Self-reflective questions like these and our thoughtful answers help us to lead more joyful, purposeful and fulfilling lives. Here are 10 ways that can give you a jumpstart to creating a more extraordinary life:
1. Volunteer for a Cause
Volunteer work can be one of the most satisfying and life-changing experiences we can ever have. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Making a difference and feeling good about ourselves at the same time is a sure way to add more meaning to life. Some volunteer ideas include: Becoming a mentor, helping out at a homeless shelter, organizing a fundraiser for a favorite charity, or participating in a walk or run for a cause. You can visit the website, VolunteerMatch, and view many more opportunities for service.
2. Accept Yourself
Do you love and accept yourself as you are? You might answer no to this question and it’s not uncommon. We tend to think about what we lack in personality, looks and accomplishments. But we can choose not to think this way by focusing on our strengths, talents and great qualities. “As you think, so shall you be,” said Philosopher William James. Our negative thoughts bring us down but our positive thoughts empower us. So which will you choose? Each day acknowledge yourself for being a good person, working hard and all your accomplishments. Make it a daily ritual to accept yourself by looking in the mirror and affirming (out loud or in silence), “I love and accept myself.”
3. Fulfill a Passion
Whether it’s to go back to college, become an entrepreneur, write a book, adopt a child, or learn to cook in Italy, you can make it happen. We typically regret not going after what we want. Plus, we will never know how life could have been if we had pursued our heart’s desires. Pursuing our passion is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. We all have a passion, a calling and finding it and living it brings our unique value to others in this brief time on the planet. If you are unsure what your passion is, pay attention to what inspires you most and lights you up inside.
4. Forgive Someone
Have you been hurt by someone in the past? Are you angry with someone right now? Being angry, bitter, or resentful makes us anxious. When we forgive, we aren’t accepting someone’s behavior rather we are saying: “I don’t want to suffer any more over this person’s actions.” Dr. Fred Luskin, a pioneer in forgiveness training methods and the resulting health benefits, said in his book, Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, “Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell.” You can forgive for a better life.
5. Write a Personal Mission Statement
At the end of your life, what would you like people to say about you? What did you accomplish or experience that made your life a success? Were you proud of yourself? Did you make a difference? Now create your personal mission, a guiding statement to live by, based on your answers. Make it as big as you can imagine. Here are two examples: “I will bring a national consciousness to poverty among children through my foundation,” or “My mission is to have authentic, loving and lasting relationships with my family and friends.” Make sure that your mission feels true for you, believe it and live by it, wholeheartedly.
6. Honor Your Word
Don’t we all know people who are always late? They cancel at the last minute or say they will do something and then don’t follow through. What would it be like, though, if we always did what we said we’d do, are early for appointments, call when we’re going to be late? We earn people’s trust, and our relationships strengthen while opportunities come to us. And, most importantly, we like ourselves more. Of course, there are times when we just can’t keep a commitment like a flat tire, or our plane was delayed, or we had a family issue that needed our immediate attention. In these cases, you can simply apologize and then recommit. Remember this: You are your word.
7. Take up a Creative Pursuit
Is there an activity, or hobby that you enjoy? Life can be stressful and busy. Indulging in something creative like painting, cooking, gardening, writing, or playing an instrument, can be a nice escape and even an aphrodisiac. If you always wanted to take a watercolor painting class, sign-up for one. Many local high schools have continuing education programs with all kinds of fun courses. Or, if you enjoy bowling, join a league. Maybe you want to learn the salsa, design a website, or take Italian lessons. Our soul expands when we try new things and there are so many ways to be creative.
8. Take on a Physical Challenge
When was the last time you pushed or challenged yourself physically? This stretches our abilities and builds our confidence. One of the ways we can do this is by taking on a physical challenge. Maybe you like to play tennis or workout. Set a goal having to do with the activity you like. For example, if you like to run, train for a marathon, maybe the New York or Boston marathon! Or maybe you want great abs, biceps or a slim figure. Well, you can have it! With some determination and willpower, you can achieve your goal. Make sure that once you succeed that you reward yourself.
9. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude has significant mental and health benefits, and being grateful can increase your happiness level by 25% as scientifically proven! “Gratitude is literally one of the few things that can measurably change people’s lives,” said University of California Psychology Professor Dr. Robert Emmons and author of the book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Being grateful in difficult times such as when we lose a job or get an illness can be tough. But this is exactly when to practice gratitude because it can help to change our mindset from what we lack to what we have, to what is bad to what is good, from the negative to the positive. Some ways to be more grateful include: Expressing your gratitude to your loved ones, keeping a gratitude journal, enjoying life’s simplest pleasures, and being of service to others.
10. Practice Kindness
Being kind enriches our lives. The giver of kindness feels great and, in many cases, even more so than the receiver. So why not regularly practice kindness? It doesn’t have to be elaborate. You can simply become more aware of ways that you can practice kindness in daily life. This could be letting other drivers ahead of you, helping a loved one out with a project, sending an unexpected thank you note, and even buying coffee for a stranger. Ways to be kinder exist all around us. Our kindness acts truly do make a difference in other’s lives as well as our own.
What way(s) above will you agree to do to create a more extraordinary life?