Some things in life are a means to an end. You drive to work so you can, you know, get to work. You work so you can eat. You cook so you can eat, so you can work. You work so you can buy gas so you can drive… to work.
If it all seems a little depressing, don’t worry. There’s a lot more to life than means-to-and-end activities. They don’t, however, come knocking on your door. They don’t show up on your doormat dressed in a shiny blue bow. No, the special life experiences are like a rare bird’s nest or an undiscovered mineral cave. Sometimes you’ve got to go looking.
If you don’t think you have time to add more activities to your day, think again. A little investment in the right things can make the work and eat and sleep cycle of daily life more enjoyable. In fact, it can change what work is, what work means, and what you get out of it. In order words, do you want to get more out of your job than just money? Start looking for those birds’ nests. Start looking for those meaningful life opportunities that make your days about so much more than an income.
You probably wouldn’t look for a mineral cave in a prairie, and you wouldn’t look for that birds’ nest in a desert. A couple of places in your life, as well, are good starting spots for daily meaning. If you can’t guess what they are, don’t worry; we’ll tell you. They’re education, and relaxation.
Education, in most people’s minds, just sounds like extra work. But the people who gain the most pleasure out of life understand that education is a goal in and of itself. Learning is a gift. It enhances your self-esteem, your understanding of the world, and your appreciation for cultures and ideas. You could head to the library to look for books that tickle your interest, or enroll in a liberal arts college to expand your heart and mind.
Relaxation probably sounds like the simpler of the two. You’d love an excuse to relax. But how much do you really do it? Make a list right now of all the ways you regularly relax, and what they are. It might be a weirdly short list. (Let me guess… is it mostly Netflix? Shh. Me, too.) While TV can be a great way to put our feet up and get swept up in a story, at the end of the day we have to admit… it wasn’t our story. It was someone else’s. Don’t let that be the only way you recharge your battery. Actively invest in you. Go for a hike. Do an art project. Take a trip, and don’t skimp–stay somewhere nice. Your quality of life improves when you treat yourself with respect and care.
Make the most out of life. Don’t let it be a cycle of work and sleep and eat and work, without any greater purpose. Invest in large and small adventures. Invest in you.