I’ve been listening to a lot of French music lately (hence the title) which got me thinking a lot about language and the evolution of meaning. Not to get too abstract, but I’ve come to the conclusion that cultivating joie de vivre (the joyous life) requires that you master its structure. The sentence “ashley name my is” doesn’t make sense, but luckily it has all of the parts to make it correct. Similarly, you have all of the parts to cultivate the good life, you just have to learn how to construct the right sentence.
Step One: Know Who You Are
Yes, I know, so broad, very cliché, and where the hell do you begin? With a battery of personality tests of course. Similar to the way you approach your career, approach self-understanding like a career assessment. Truly understanding yourself and your motivations is pretty much a career in and of itself. No test can truly measure your personality, but personality tests can help you assess your values, communication style, interactions with others, and your way of interpreting the world. I’m a big fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and StrengthsFinder because they really hone in on the positive aspects of your personality and character while still highlighting areas of growth. There are tons of tests out there, but it’s what you do with the results that matter. Just like a career, once you’ve found areas of interest, research, analyze, and reevaluate. It might feel uncomfortable, but in the end when you truly know yourself, you’ll be in tune with the world around you and be able to put steps in place to achieve your goals, live passionately, and be open to others.
Step Two: Fall In Love With Your Authentic Self
Have you ever had an in-depth conversation with a retiree or an old couple? They don’t give a fuck about social graces. They know what they like and don’t like. They know their strengths and weaknesses and, most importantly, they’ve learned to accept themselves and others where they are. I think the key to falling in love with life is falling in love with your authentic self. When you really know yourself, you know your strengths and your weaknesses and you accept them. To me, the easiest way to accept your weaknesses is to build on your strengths and supplement your weaknesses with those strengths. I got teased enough in high school to develop a sense of humor. Oddly enough, it was through teasing that I learned that humor was one of my strengths. Granted, it wasn’t until much later that I learned to capitalize on this strength, but sometimes you learn your strengths through unexpected moments or times in your life. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be the person you think others want you to be or the way you think you should be, love who you are. Be authentic and live authentically. Once you do, you’ll start to fall in love with your life.
Step Three: Be A Magnet of Positivity
Once you start knowing and loving yourself, you’ll start becoming a person you want to hang out with. You’ll be happy alone in your own company and in the company of others. Most importantly, you’ll start attracting good things into your life. Think back on your life. When you felt down on yourself did you find yourself continuously attracting negative people or circumstances into your life? Now think about the times you felt confident and good about yourself. Did good things happen? No one can feel happy 100% of the time, but everyone has the potential to feel good about themselves. You can work to cultivate the best version of yourself. Get to know yourself and start doing things that make you happy. Everything will start falling into place once you do.
Step Four: Express Gratitude
Express gratitude for people, things, and life in general. Express gratitude for continuing to know yourself. There is always a reason to be thankful. Say it out loud, write it down, tell someone. Make it a point to express gratitude daily. Always say thank you and let others know you’re thankful. Your gratitude could completely change someone’s day, maybe even your own.
Step Five: Repeat.
You’ll constantly learn about yourself, need to fall back in love with yourself, and work to attract positivity into your mind and heart. The beauty about life is knowing that the more you repeat, the more beautiful your sentences will become.