Life is beautiful, and if it's shitty right now for you, well, good news: YOU have the power to make it beautiful.
FIND YOUR PASSION.
In many ways, I got lucky - my passion "found" me via my friends back in grade school (middle school). They introduced me to the art of writing, and well, it was really love at first sight.
I honestly believe the most successful people on earth as well as the happiest are those who have found their passion. When you find your passion, life becomes so much more meaningful. Trust me on this. Whatever your passion is, it will always make you happy and, more importantly, embracing your passion will enable you to make other people happy, too - there's no better feeling than that.
If you haven't found your passion yet or you're not sure you've found it, that's okay. Just keep living your life and treat each day like it's your last. It doesn't matter how young or "mature" you are. It's never too early or too late to discover what you're really meant to do in this life.
There's no right or wrong way to find your passion. Sometimes, it's a hit or miss thing. Other times, it's like serendipity and your passion comes knocking on your door. For some, passion is discovered in a blink of an eye. For others, it takes years. Doesn't matter. Just live your life, seize every moment, and eventually you'll find it.
ENRICH YOUR LIFE WITH WHAT CAN'T BE BOUGHT.
There comes a time when you reach a point in your life and you understand that material pleasures are just that, material, and because of that, they can only bring you ephemeral happiness. Your iPhone 6 may be the newest gadget now, but it won't be in a year - or a couple of months even. You may have the most expensive bag right now, but sooner or later, you'll hear about someone who has something more expensive than you do.
Close your eyes and think about your happiest moments in life. I'm willing to bet it's not when you bought this or that. Most likely, it was when someone made you smile or cry happy tears. Or it could be the other way around and you made another person happy. Those are the moments that really matter, and you need to start focusing on that.
Material love is a clingy kind of love, but you can get rid of it. Takes practice, though. Start by training yourself not to care about what other people say regarding what you do and don't own. So you're not wearing branded clothes or shoes. That's okay. It's not a crime. So you don't have the newest cellphone model. As long as your phone's able to do what you need it to do, that's okay.
Secondly, practice spending money with the express purpose of making other people happy. Do you really need to buy yourself a new blouse when you already bought one last month? How about buying a new book for your mom because she's an avid reader and she seems quite stressed lately? It will be hard at first, spending money for other people, but the more you do it, the more you realize that really is what money is for. A means to make other people happy because ultimately, that will make YOU happy. Every time you spend money for other people, life will feel more and more beautiful.
STOP TO SMELL THE ROSES. REALLY SMELL IT.
In order to have a beautiful life, you need to know how to appreciate it - and by that I mean every little thing about it. Make it a point to dwell on life's simplest pleasures. Enjoy a cup of coffee and savor its aroma, its taste. Stare up at the sky and marvel at how pretty the clouds are. Hold your partner's hand, tightly, and enjoy the feeling of having someone hold your hand back just as tightly. These are the things that we so easily take for granted, and we tend to realize how important they are only when they're taken away from us. Don't wait for that to happen.
Appreciation and gratitude always come hand in hand so be sure to also let other people know that you're grateful for their presence in your life. Thank God for giving you another moment to experience life. Thank your parents for always being there for you. Thank your partner for loving you. Thank your employees for being loyal. Thank the guy who looked after your car when you had to park a block away from the restaurant.
"Thank you." Two very simple words, but they're powerful, too, and they're often what starts a chain of kindness.
I wish more people read, really, and it's not just because that means I get to sell more books. Reading is the most affordable form of pleasure, the easiest way to experience an adventure, broaden your horizons, and discover whole new worlds without even leaving your home.
Books changed my life and I just know books can change other people's lives, too. It's just a matter of finding the right book for a person to read at the right time. After that, I guarantee they'll be readers forever, and their lives will change for the better after it.
If it's possible not to spend a dime when reading (you can always borrow a book from the library or a friend for instance) then the opposite of reading is traveling, where it's impossible not to spend. Even so, I think it's important for all of us to travel, even if it means saving up the entire year for a major trip in the holidays. Traveling isn't just about exploring new places and immersing yourself in other cultures. It's also an internal journey, with each trip serving as a path to self-discovery.
Perhaps it's because you find yourself surrounded with so many strange things, unknown places, that you can't help but become more aware of who you are, what you have been, and what you could be when traveling. I'm not really sure why traveling has such tremendous impact on our souls. All I know is that every time I travel, I come back a different person, and I'd like to think the changes are for the better, too, even if I'm still far from perfect.
Looking back, there have been so many times in my life that I wished I had found the courage to speak up, so many times I wish I had been able to forget about pride and fear and just said what was in my heart. I wish I had been more affectionate with my grandmother, wish I had been able to tell her "I love her" more often. Because I do - I really do, but now she's gone.
I wish I had been able to say "I'm sorry" more quickly in the past. Or conversely, I wish I could have been more forgiving, wish my heart was bigger so that I could have avoided foolishly wasting precious time nursing resentment.
One pastor said that "the truth isn't really what sets us free, but rather it's the application of truth that does." For me, speaking the truth out loud is akin to that. You see, we can be aware of the truth but just keep it hidden in our hearts. When we do this, life becomes a little bit darker, a little bit drearier. But when we speak up?
Say your dreams out loud - speak about it to those who matter. If you really want to be a writer, then find someone who can help you and share your dreams with him or her. Ask for help if you need help. Speaking up is a risk, but once you take that risk, you won't ever regret it because by then, you've realized that speaking up in itself has already added meaning to your life.
KEEP LOOKING AT THE BRIGHT SIDE.
Not every risk you take will pay off. Not everyone you wish to please will be pleased and not everyone you love will be capable of loving you back. But that's okay. What makes life really beautiful - what really defines its beauty and make you want to keep living, to keep trying - are the moments that you gave it your all. They may hurt now, but when time passes they will make you smile because you know you did your best, and there's nothing shameful about that.
Think of all your failures as lessons you have to learn in order to do something better. Don't be afraid to fail. It only means that you have one less mistake to commit in the future. If something goes wrong, stop looking for someone or something to blame. Just move on and chalk it up to experience. If someone did you harm, know that this experience will only make you stronger.
Everything in life is a matter of perspective, and it's your choice that shapes your life. If you want it to be beautiful, then you need to choose to see life as something beautiful.
STOP TAKING YOURSELF SERIOUSLY.
People will never be able to make you feel down or inferior unless you let them. Say you ended up using the wrong word in a sentence. Eep. Your bad. Just type a retraction, apologize, and move on. They can laugh all they want - maybe it really is that funny where they're concerned. Well, good for them, and good for you, because hey, that's your good deed for the day - you were able to make people laugh.
We humans are imperfect creatures, and no matter how hard we strive for perfection, awkward and embarrassing moments are inevitable. It's part and parcel of life so we need to stop being bothered by it. Embrace these moments instead. Store them in your memory even. One day, they'll make a good joke for your future husband, son, or grandson.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
Take note that I'm not saying you should surround yourself with "yes" persons. By "right" I mean those who genuinely care for you. People who genuinely care are honest but constructive with their criticism, which will help keep you grounded. They don't hesitate to offer you help when you're down, and they're happy for you rather than envious when you succeed. They are with you during the good and the bad, and they will never lead you astray.
Needless to say, you need to be the same with the people around you. Be happy for them, and be there for them, and again life will be all the more beautiful because of it.
PRAY OR MEDITATE.
If you believe in God, then pray. Just talk to Him. Or just close your eyes and just listen to what He has to say. I know this will sound silly to some of you, but just try it anyway. If you don't believe in praying, then just close your eyes and meditate. Free your mind from the clutter that's accumulated over time. Prayers and meditation allow both our bodies and souls to recharge as well as relieve our minds from stress and our hearts from heavy burdens.
Breathe, just breathe, and focus on breathing. When you open your eyes, you'll realize that whatever may have been troubling you - it wasn't as bad as you thought. It never is, really.
Always remember - life is beautiful, but you may have just been too tired, too blind, too scared to see it was so in the past.
Now you know. :)