Life Is Supposed To Feel Good
This essay first appeared in my newsletter, The Weekly Pep Talk. If you’d like to subscribe for a big old dose of positivity in your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up here.
Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time doing Yoga With Adriene’s yoga classes on YouTube. Adriene puts together some brilliant 30 day challenges, and I’ve really enjoyed taking 10 or 20 minutes out of my day to work through her videos - it reminds me to be a little more mindful and present, and I’m sure the stretching is good for my body too.
The reason why I love Adriene’s videos so much is that unlike the stereotypical shouty exercise instructors you can find elsewhere on YouTube, she’s very gentle and encouraging. She always gives instructions on how to make the move easier if you’re struggling, and she never makes you feel like a cheat if you plump for the less taxing option.
Adriene’s whole philosophy and approach to yoga is to “find what feels good” and I love it - she encourages you to find the movement that feels good for your body, rather than cranking into uncomfortable positions just to prove a point. And I think that’s a philosophy that a lot of us could benefit from applying to other areas of our life too.
We live in a society that teaches us that the things worth having are hard. We’re constantly sold this story about how hard work pays off, that if we hustle hard enough throughout our lives, we’ll eventually be rewarded for our efforts.
It’s a notion that I have been fully signed up to for the majority of my twenties. I’ve worn hustle and productivity and a jam-packed schedule like badges of honour. I’ve lost countless evenings and weekends to work or worry. I’ve spent precious holiday time replying to emails or fixating on client dramas. I’ve stayed in jobs way after they stopped feeling good to me, and I’ve put up with bosses who crushed my self confidence.
And I did all of this because I believed it was what I needed to do to be successful. I did it because I believed work was supposed to be hard, that the struggle only proved how much of a #girlboss I was.
And this approach to life didn’t just stop at work. I ran marathons and went to spinning classes and did endless HIIT workouts because I thought these punishing and extreme ways of exercising proved how serious I was about my health. I spent too much time with people who made me feel uncomfortable because I figured that the best relationships were sometimes difficult and challenging. I had a fraught relationship with money, always second guessing my decisions and feeling out of control, because I didn’t know that there was any other way to be.
I thought that all of these struggles made me more worthy in some way. I bought into the idea that some day it would all pay off, that the future would reward me for my efforts and suddenly I’d be happy and successful and have that coveted “perfect life”.
But can I let you in on a secret? Life isn’t supposed to be so difficult. It isn’t supposed to feel so hard. Life is supposed to feel good. And it’s supposed to feel good right now, not in some far flung distant future that none of us are guaranteed.
And I don’t think anyone has ever told me that before. I don’t think anybody has ever broken life down for me in that way. I have been praised for having a strong work ethic, reassured that my resilience will set me in good stead. I have been told that “one day it will all be worth it”, that hard work pays off. But not once can I recall being told that it’s okay to take the easy option, to prioritise the joy, to find what feels good.
And I’m guessing that nobody told you, either. So let me tell you now.
You are allowed to enjoy your life, to prioritise the things that make you happy. You are allowed to do work that makes you feel accomplished and happy, rather than resenting your to do list and living for the weekend. You are allowed to spend more time with the people who make you feel like the very best version of yourself, and spend less time with the people who make you feel like crap. You are allowed to eat the foods your body craves, and move it in a way that feels natural to you, rather than hitting the gym and counting those calories. You are allowed to approach your life with a sense of ease and joy and adventure and bliss, rather than falling into a perpetual cycle of hustle and struggle and dissatisfaction.
And I hope that you all remember that, as we move through this tricky month and start making plans for the year ahead. I hope that you know that you’re allowed to enjoy the delicious journey that life takes us on, rather than sacrificing the present moment in the hope that the destination will be worth it.
Don’t put a future date on living your best life. Live it now. Find what feels good now. Because really, none of us are guaranteed that “one day” will ever come along, are we?