How to Be Happier in Your Life & Art
We live in an age of unprecedented opportunities, resources, and connections. So why do so many people seem anxious and discontent with their lives?
I believe the reason is that most people have trouble accepting who they are. We see others around us who seem to have more talent or success. By comparison, we see all of our own mistakes and shortcomings. It’s a recipe for unhappiness.
Happiness and contentment begin with knowing, loving, and accepting yourself. When you’re comfortable in your own skin, you have the mental and emotional strength to produce your best work. In this post I’ll share five specific areas of your life to embrace so that you can create great art.
1. Embrace Your Personality
You might be outgoing, funny, reflective, driven, or quiet. Whatever your personality is like, it’s a quality you can’t change, so you might as well get used to it. Every personality type has positive and negative tendencies. The key is learning to make the most of the positive ones and minimizing the negative ones.
Personality profiles can be very helpful because they remind us we’re not alone and help us to understand ourselves much better. My two favorites are the DiSC and the Enneagram. (For the record, I’m a “High C” on the DiSC and a “5” on the Enneagram.)
2. Embrace Your Gifts
There is a great inner peace in knowing and accepting who you are. For instance, I know that my gifts focus on writing, teaching, music, and a few other areas. I also know that I will never be good at sports, drawing, or the type of job that requires constant interaction with people (I need my alone time).
It’s very easy to be jealous of other people’s gifts, especially when we see their success in comparison to our failures. But you possess a unique combination of talents and gifts that you can use to serve others. The earlier in life you can identify your primary gifts, and stop trying to be someone you’re not, the happier and more effective you will be.
3. Embrace Your Past
You may have some things in your past that you’re not proud of. Maybe you have made some mistakes or bad decisions that seriously derailed your life. But here’s the thing: the past is in the past and you can’t change it.
I have certainly made my share of mistakes in life, but there’s no use dwelling on them. The best you can do is learn from your mistakes, put measures in place so you don’t repeat them, and share your wisdom with others.
As a person of faith, I also have the knowledge that God can take any part of my past—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and use it for his glory. So don’t despise your past. God was with you then and he’s with you now.
4. Embrace Your Life Situation
Many people aren’t able to be content with their life as it is right now. They might be dissatisfied with their marriage, job, finances, church, kids, or all of the above! You could give them a million dollars and they would complain about paying the income tax.
It’s easy to see all the ways your life could be better and not see the blessings right in front of you. We should definitely try to improve every area of our lives, but at what point do you reach contentment? If you can’t find contentment in life right now, you never will.
Whatever your situation in life, it will eventually change. Embrace your life as it is and see all the beauty and possibilities around you. Don’t work so hard at creating a better future that you miss out on today.
5. Embrace Your Appearance
Very few people are happy with the way they look. I wish I were about 40 lbs. thinner with a little (OK, a lot) more hair. Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you would like to be thinner, taller, have a different color hair, look younger, or have a different body shape.
There are some things you can do to enhance your appearance, and there’s no doubt that looking better increases your self-confidence. However, a change in your appearance doesn’t mean much unless you first change how you feel about yourself. Do you love yourself for who you are? Do you value yourself? Do you even like yourself?
You are an awesome person just as you are right now. We are all on a journey to improve our lives and create better art, but contentment and happiness is not a place somewhere in the distance. It’s the place where you are today.
Despite whatever shortcomings you have, you are a person of value and worth who has something awesome to contribute to the world. Don’t shortchange yourself. When you embrace your life as it is, you can truly create a better tomorrow.
I’d love to hear from you: What is your biggest challenge in embracing your life as it is today?
Photo courtesy of Gratisography