You don't have to change your life in order to change your life


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.

In a fit of procrastination earlier this week, I did something I haven’t done for a little while - I spent an awful long time scrolling through my own Instagram archive.

That sounds a bit narcissistic, doesn’t it? But I like that Instagram acts as a little scrapbook for all of our photographs and memories, and having a scroll back every now and then feels sort of like the millennial equivalent of flicking through an old photo album.

So anyway, there I was, scrolling away, laughing at old #OOTD poses and remembering just how blue the sky was here in the UK last summer (do you reckon we’ll ever get a summer like that again?!). And what struck me is that from the outside, it looks like nothing much has changed in my life over the past few years.

I still live in the same house I lived in 3 years ago. I’m still married to the same man I wed back in the summer of 2017. I still work in a similar industry, and I still love writing about my life in blog posts or in these weekly letters. I still harbour an unhealthy obsession with New York, and I still share more photos of my cat than anybody really wants to see.

There have been no major curveballs or plot twists over the past few years. No turning points or personality transplants or deep, meaningful breakthroughs. On the surface of it, my life hasn’t changed that much at all. And yet, somehow, it feels entirely different to me.

My life is so much more joyful than it was even two years ago. It’s filled with more happiness and gratitude and love than it’s ever been before. There’s more spontaneity and fun, more time and space to enjoy the things that are most important to me. My relationships are stronger than they’ve ever been, and my confidence and self esteem is at an all time high. As I sit here, typing this little letter to you, I can hand on heart say that I’m more content than I ever hoped I could be.

And do you know what’s funny? Nothing big had to change in my life in order for me to start feeling that way. I didn’t have to lose weight or quit my job or create the perfect capsule wardrobe. I didn’t need to travel the world or buy a bigger house or spend a load of money on designer handbags. I didn’t have to get the shiny job title or earn more money or win an award in order to unlock this next level of happiness.

No, the only thing that had to change to get me here was my mindset. It was my perspective that had to shift, not my career or my surroundings or my relationships.

And I thought that was a good reminder to share with you here today. Because if you were to listen to all of the Instagram and Pinterest quotes, you could quite easily begin to believe that in order to achieve happiness, you have to do something radical or risky. That you have to move to Bali or become a minimalist or completely change your career. You could start to believe that in order to change your life, you need to change your life completely.

But I just don’t think that’s true. I think that for most of us, the key to real happiness lies in simply appreciating our lives for all that they are right now. It lies in improving our mindsets and practicing gratitude and remembering when we wanted what we currently have. And sure, you can still set goals for yourself, you can still have hopes and dreams for the future. But it’s in knowing that you still get to enjoy yourself along the way, not just when you reach the destination, that the real fun starts to begin.