I know, so cliché, right? I can practically hear your eyes roll. But hear me out.
In a society driven by results, achievements, and ideals of perfection, there is a huge pitfall that I am becoming increasingly aware of—that we can be so focused on trying to achieve our “best life” that life itself could pass us by and we would have missed it. Missed the beauty of just being here.
We’ve all heard the sayings “Slow down and smell the roses” and “Life is a journey, not a destination.” We hear these sayings and pass them off as embroidery on a quaint pillow, but what if we didn’t? What if life really is in the details?
I mean, how many of us will ever actually attain the “perfect life” we are being sold? Are we just trapped in never-ending, self-defeating cycles of diets, bad habits, and perpetual “self-improvement”?
What if we just paused for a second. Took a break from social media. Blocked out all the outside noise. Just got quiet. What would your inner voice, your subconscious, tell you?
What makes you truly happy? What feeds your soul? Makes you tick? Even reading that back I realize I sound very “new age,” but what I mean is, aren’t we done with being told what will make us happy? And why does life have to be spectacular to be fulfilling? Can’t what we have just be enough?
Recently, I lost my dad after a very short and aggressive battle with cancer. I didn’t see it coming. I thought he would go on forever.
I had been estranged from my dad for a few years before he got sick. We had drifted apart for lots of reasons but mainly because he was never there for me. Our relationship was very one-sided and usually consisted of me running after him, wanting him to notice me, to give me the love and approval I so badly felt I needed from him.
He wasn’t any of the things a father should be. He wasn’t reliable or safe or protective or even present, and I resented him for abandoning me when I was little.
But when it came down to it, when I faced losing him, when I saw him in his hospital bed and he told me he “wasn’t long for this world,” all of that melted away and I longed desperately for more time.
I wish I had let go of my expectations, my resentment, and my pride and just accepted him and salvaged a relationship with him. I loved my dad, and I wish I had spent more time just being with him. Now, that time has passed.
His loss taught me something. Life is precious. We don’t have forever. We have now. This moment. We can choose to love our lives now.
Don’t wait until you’re skinner, prettier, fitter, earning more money, famous, a millionaire. (Most of us will never be those last two things.)
If your life is particularly hard right now and your needs aren’t being met, work to change what isn’t working. But don’t get so focused on what you want that you forget what you already have.
Let’s stop wasting the precious time we have here with the people we love, who make our life beautiful.
Appreciate all the little things that make you happy.
For me, it’s coffee shops and lazy mornings, walks by the river or in nature, grabbing lunch with my friends or dancing the night away, cuddles on the sofa, spending time with my kids, those few precious moments with my partner in the morning before the day begins.
These things are what make a life. While we are striving to “live our best life,” we run the real risk of completely missing the one we are already living.
My one wish is that we all wake up and start appreciating the life we have right now. That we reject the notion that we have to have perfect bodies, perfect faces, perfect houses, families, relationships, to have a truly happy life.
Wake up to the fact that we are being sold this lie purely so that we buy more stuff, work more hours, keep striving for the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Love your life now. Fall in love with all the little things. Happiness doesn’t come from physical possessions. It comes from appreciating everything money can’t buy. You could already be living your “best life” without even trying.
About Suzie Headley
Suzie Headley is a SEND Lecturer working with young people with a range of additional needs. She believes that each day of life is a gift and aims to live with mindful appreciation. She recently qualified as a yoga teacher and works alongside a charity making yoga accessible to SEND children and young people. Suzie loves the simple life and believes that it’s the little things that make life beautiful and fulfilling.