“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell
As I write this, I am two hours away from my first weekly acting class in Los Angeles. I’ve been here for almost two years now, and though I loved Community Theater as a kid, I never so much as researched acting classes until a couple weeks back.
I frequently said I wanted to do it, along with painting classes, which I’m starting next week, but I always made excuses not to start either.
I was too busy. I didn’t have enough money. I didn’t have the time. I wouldn’t be good enough. I’d feel uncomfortable. I might not enjoy it. I don’t like commitment. It wouldn’t lead anywhere.
The list went on and on, but I realized the last two were the big ones for me. I chronically avoid commitment because I associate that with hindering my freedom. (What if I decide last-minute I want to go somewhere or do something else?)
Also, I hesitate to give large amounts of time to hobbies I have no intention of pursuing professionally.
I realized last month, however, that I want to prioritize more of the things that make me feel passionate and excited—and not just occasionally, but regularly.
I don’t know if these classes are “leading” anywhere. I just know I feel in love with the possibilities I’m creating—not possibilities for growth tomorrow; possibilities for joy today.
That’s what it means to really feel alive—to be so immersed in the passionate bliss of this moment that you don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. You just enjoy what you’re doing and love every piece of it.
If you’re looking to feel that sense of exhilaration but don’t know where to start, you may find these ideas helpful:
SAY SOMETHING YOU’VE BEEN MEANING TO SAY
1. Tell someone how you really feel about them instead of waiting because you’re scared.
2. Tell someone what you really want and need instead of building up resentment.
3. Share your fears publicly, in a blog post for example, and ask the community to keep you accountable in overcoming them.
4. Tell a friend your greatest dream, and then ask them to hold you accountable in pursuing it.
5. Admit to a friend how you really feel about how you spend your time—then brainstorm about ways to improve it.
6. Introduce yourself to someone you’ve been dying to meet, even if you feel nervous.
7. Ask someone who’s done what you want to do for advice and encouragement.
8. Tell your boss what you can do instead of wondering if you’ll ever move forward professionally.
9. Or tell your boss his services are no longer needed—then finally start pursuing your passion.
10. Tell yourself the truth instead of lying to yourself about the changes you want to make in your life.
TRY SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO TRY
11. Sign up for a class to learn a skill you’ve always thought would be fun.
12. If you can’t afford a class, look on Craigslist for free events related to that interest.
13. Ask a friend to teach you to do something you don’t know how to do—and offer to teach them something else in return.
14. Take that new class at your gym instead of worrying that you won’t be able to keep up.
15. Buy a new or used instrument and look on for instructional videos on YouTube.
16. Think of something you’d enjoy creating—a blanket, a song, or a small piece of furniture—and then do some research today to take the first step in doing it.
17. Write a blog post or take some photos and submit them to your favorite website.
18. Invite a few of your friends to play a sport you’ve always wanted to try, even if you fear you’ll seem uncoordinated.
19. Blast your favorite song and try a dance style you’ve always admired. Nothing makes you feel alive like getting your blood pumping!
20. Make a list of things you think you’d enjoy, and then pick one you’ve never done to try this weekend.
GO SOMEWHERE YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO
21. Plan a vacation to that destination you’ve always dreamed about visiting.
22. If you can’t afford that, research cheap ways to travel—staying in hostels, volunteering abroad, or transporting someone else’s car, for example.
23. Issue yourself a “life ticket.” According to Tiny Buddha contributor Jamie Hoang, we find ways to pay tickets when we get them because we have to. Think of travel in that same way—and be resourceful to make it happen.
24. Take a weekend road trip to somewhere close you’ve always wanted to visit.
25. Write down your three favorite hobbies and for each, a place you’ve always wanted to try (i.e.: a beautiful beach an hour away for surfing). Plan to go this weekend.
26. Invite friends to a restaurant, bar, or other establishment you’ve wanted to try, but have avoided in favor or familiarity. (Once you invite other people, you’ll be less inclined to change your mind last-minute!)
27. If you’ve avoided going to a new spot because it’s expensive, start a “fun night” savings jar today, and make trying that place a priority.
28. Make a list of fun “staycation” ideas (for daytrips in your area). Schedule at least two of them for the next month.
29. If there’s a conference you’ve always wanted to attend, book your ticket for next year, or see if you can volunteer there to get free or discounted attendance.
30. Plan some type of creativity-driven travel project—once a week or even month, take photos, draw, or write in a new spot you’ve wanted to visit
DO SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT YOU COULDN’T DO
31. Jot down three qualities you’d like to possess, then three choices or activities that coincide with them (i.e.: adventurous—white water rafting). Make a plan to do that thing.
32. Enlist a friend to help you face it fear, whether it’s quitting your job or skydiving.
33. Create a positive affirmation to replace a limiting belief (i.e.: tell yourself, “I feel confident around new people” instead of “I can’t meet new people—I’m too nervous”). Then use that new belief to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
34. Think of someone you admire and write down three things they do that you don’t think you can. Now make it a personal mission to prove yourself wrong.
35. Think of something huge you’ve wanted to do, but feared you can’t. Now shrink it down to something smaller but related (i.e.: climb Mt. Everest could start with join a rock climbing gym.) Do that smaller thing today. It’s a start!
36. Ask a friend to describe your potential. Find the parts that make your heart race with excitement, and then take one small step today to work toward that possibility.
37. Set a 30-day challenge—i.e. write 5 pages every day without worrying if they’re any good; after 30 days, you’ll have a first draft of a 150-page novel.
38. Ask yourself, “What would I try if I thought I wouldn’t fail?” Take one tiny step toward that goal today.
39. Ask a friend or your significant other to design an “opposite night” for you—a night when the two of you do things completely opposed to what you usually do.
40. Share something you want to do but think you can’t in the comment section here. Just putting it out there is a great start!
This is obviously a large list—and there’s far too much to do all at once. But maybe you can pick just one thing that resonated with you, or pick one thing every week or month.
The point is to do something to feel passionate, excited, and exhilarated.
We all have different interests that inform what we want to do; and we all have different responsibilities that might limit how we’re able to do them. But we all have the ability to make at least one tiny change, or take at least one tiny risk.
Today I’m going to spend several hours doing something I haven’t done in 10 years with people I’ve never met. I feel terrified, but oh so thrilled and alive.
What would give you that feeling?