It can be sobering to think about the finite amount of time you've been given. And like it or not, how you assess your life when you get to the end of it is completely dependent on how you have conducted yourself. Here's how you can make the most of yours.
Be a giver (but with boundaries).
A habit of helping others leads to success because it enriches your relationships. At the same time, it's important to understand the kind of people you're dealing with. Psychologist and best-selling author Adam Grant, in an interview with Monitor on Psychology, discussed the science behind karma and how good deeds can come back around for those who perform them. He categorizes people into three categories: givers who enjoy helping people, takers who try to get as much as they can from others, and matchers who try to be balanced between giving and taking. In his research he has found that some givers rise to success, whereas other givers do not. The difference between the two? The successful givers are more careful to help other givers and matchers but are more careful when it comes to takers. The unsuccessful givers are consistently selfless, fail to set boundaries and compromise their own goals and ambitions for others.
Learn from your mistakes.
You'd think this would be obvious--when you screw up, use it as an opportunity to get smarter so you make fewer mistakes going forward. But researchers have found that there are two types of people when it comes to making mistakes. People who have the mindset that intelligence is malleable and believe they are capable of learning from their mistakes are the ones who actually do learn from them. People who believe their intelligence is fixed and that they can't get smarter miss opportunities to learn from their mistakes. Don't be the latter.
Find time for friendships.
Loneliness is a modern epidemic and it's terrible for your physical and mental health. Check out these depressing statistics from a national survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults, conducted by health service company Cigna:
- Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
- One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
- Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
- Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
- Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.
Fight against these awful numbers! Several studies have found a strong relationship between social interaction and health and well-being.
Travel with people you love.
Chances are, some of your best memories happened away from home if you've been fortunate enough to see other parts of the country or world. If not, now is the time. Researchers have found that vacationing increases life satisfaction, quality of life and well-being. It also breeds confidence and open-mindedness because travel often involves visiting unfamiliar places which provide spontaneous and novel experiences.
If cost is an issue, consider using a credit card which provides frequent flier miles for buying everyday expenses such as food and fuel (without going into debt because you'll only charge things you would normally have to buy, and then pay off your balance every month). And Airbnb offers great accommodations across the globe which often are significantly cheaper than hotels.
My husband and I recently used this approach to take a random trip to Prague, Vienna and Venice. It's something I'll never regret.