How many of you out there have ever said “Man, I’m excited for this weekend because…”? Or, maybe yours went something like “I can’t wait for our vacation to Hawaii…it’s gonna be hella-awesome!”.
Whatever awkward phrases that you use to describe what you’re excited about, it’s always nice looking forward to something. It puts a smile on your face. Each time you get excited, it makes life a little more awesome.
These things not only give us something to work for, but it also gives us something to wait for, and maybe something positive to focus on when life becomes mundane or repetitive.
Far too often, we look to break out of funks by going out of our way to do something different – anything different. A new restaurant, maybe. Perhaps going out to a movie on Friday instead of watching yet another freaking re-run of the Big Bang Theory on TV. Sometimes this works, but other times it winds up making us even more frustrated because we feel forced into trying something new. Nobody likes to feel forced.
How about this instead: Stop waiting for life to get boring before completely changing how you look at everyday activities.
And honestly, who doesn’t need a little spice in their life?
Get excited about everyday things
I approach my life’s “spice” a little differently than what tradition might tell me to do. I look for things to get excited about – anything. Then, I make myself excited for them. Usually, it’s something small, maybe even inconsequential. But, it gives me something to look forward to, something to say “I can’t wait for the game on Sunday – I think my team can pull out a victory in this one!”
Whether they actually can or not is completely beside the point. You are wiring yourself up to showing some emotion. Yell or curse at the TV, who cares. The point is, get yourself into it and have some bloody fun!
I live in Arizona and follow the Arizona Cardinals pretty closely. During football season, I don’t just watch their football games. I get downright giddy about them. I plan my day around these games. For 3 hours on Sundays, my life is completely consumed by one thing and one thing only – Arizona Cardinals football. Everything else waits until the game is over.
Even though they lost to the Panthers in an ugly wildcard playoff game fraught with embarrassing inexperience at our quarterback position, it didn’t really matter. I was bummed for a few hours after the game, but I then moved on with my life and looked for my next source of excitement. In the end, it does not matter whether they win or lose. What matters is I was happily anticipating the game days before. I looked forward to kick off. I was positive and upbeat, practically going gaga over watching the game. Win or lose, this happiness can never be taken away from me. Truly, each game keeps me excited and focused.
Another source of excitement in my life is fitness. I am a freaking fitness fanatic, often going to the gym every day of the week for several weeks in a row. My fitness is important to me, and I get excited over it…especially chest. I love chest day.
I have been known to start thinking about what exercises that I am going to totally kill in the gym the day before. Sometimes I get so excited to pump some iron that I go to the gym twice on the same day, working a very specific part of my chest during each session. I am focused, determined and motivated to absolutely kill it on chest day. It is something that I love doing, and I am hell-bent on getting the most out of it and maximizing the fun I have while there.
Making myself excited over these little things in life has proven to be an amazing way to keep my life fulfilling every step of the way. I never feel like I’m in a rut, or need to switch things up (except for my fitness routines, of course!). Almost every day I’m excited for something…the game, the gym, my favorite meal, watching a brand new episode of House Hunters on Netflix, hiking a new trail with my camera around my neck.
I know, it’s all mental.
But who cares? Your life revolves around a little game that you play with yourself in your head. The more excited you get over life, the happier and more fulfilled you begin to feel. You finally start to win the very game that probably kicked your ass every damn day in an earlier life.
Find things in your life to look forward to. The small things. The things that don’t cost a lot of money (if any money). Things you like doing, but may otherwise do almost mindlessly and without much of a second thought.
Find those things and make yourself get excited over them.
Maybe you and your buddies shoot the shit at a coffee shop on Sunday mornings. Cool, get excited to try a new blend of coffee next time you’re there, or to lead the conversation instead of follow. Or hell, do nothing different, but thoroughly enjoy the experience. Besides, if you cannot make yourself enjoy something that you do often, then maybe your time could be better spent doing something else – but that’s a topic for another article.
Your challenge is to examine your life today and pick out something that you like to do, however small it may be. Once you’ve found that “something”, take a few minutes and think about it. Smile. Clinch your fists and think about yourself doing it. Get excited. Get motivated. Make yourself believe that the next time that you do that thing, it’ll be unlike anything that you’ve done before.
Prioritize that thing and make it happen, damn it.
Never forget that the better control that you have over your mental outlook on life, the happier and more fulfilled you will feel.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.