People who live life to the fullest never say “no” to these 10 things

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For the first decade of my adult life, I was quite the stickler for schedules and a neatly-ordered existence. 

But after a while, I felt like I was missing out on a lot. Specifically, a lot of fun. 

While the planner in me made sure I would hit my goals, it also wasn’t exactly leading me to live life to the fullest

Fortunately, I realized it early enough and did a few tweaks. They weren’t easy at first, for sure; it required some conscious effort to stop resorting to my default responses. 

One of those tweaks was learning how to never say “no” to these things: 

1) Spontaneous adventures

People like me, who like things planned down to the last detail, would probably find it hard to agree to an impromptu road trip with friends, or a last-minute concert. 

For planners, the default response would be something like, “Wait, I can’t do that, I’ve got to plan an itinerary/figure out what to wear first!”

Or: 

“Skinny dipping? Umm, no thanks. What will people think?”

News flash: life is too short to always stick to the plan. 

And you know what? It might be insanely uncomfortable the first time you chuck that default response out of the window. 

But believe me, once you let go and let yourself enjoy the experience, you’ll feel an unexpected rush. 

That rush tells you that you’re living life to the fullest – and you’ve got the fabulous memories to prove it! 

2) Physical activity

Another thing that gives you a rush is movement – another area I struggled with. 

I’d be lying if I said I was one of those types who enjoyed working out at the gym or signing up for marathons. 

No, I was a verified couch potato. If Netflix could stamp people with a “Top Fan” badge in real life, I’d probably have one on my forehead. 

But – while I love binge-watching and still do it every now and then, I can’t deny that saying yes to a more active lifestyle has done wonders for me. 

You don’t even have to go full steam lifting weights and doing triathlons. Just simple activities like dancing, jogging, or a brisk walk can give you the same rush. 

There’s also functional movement, which is basically whole-body movements based on real-life situations. Think gardening, cleaning the house, bending down to pick up something off the floor. 

It’s essentially the movements we need to carry out our daily life – hence, the term “functional.”

They might not look like much but research shows that movement and exercise boost our mental and emotional well-being, aside from the obvious physical benefits. 

After all, you can’t live life to the fullest if you’re not feeling your best, right? 

3) New foods and flavors

Another thing you’ll notice about people who live life to the fullest is their enthusiasm for trying out new food. 

They go to a new restaurant just because they heard it serves dim sum to die for or a life-changing lava cake. 

So, they have a rather diverse palate. And while you might think it’s such a small thing, it really impacts your quality of life. 

Because it falls under “new experiences”. It delights the senses. It’s literally a mini-adventure! 

4) Learning new skills

If you’re finding it hard to stop saying “no” to spontaneous adventures and experiences, one thing that might help is to view it from the lens of a growth mindset. 

Simply put, think of it as a way to learn new things and skills

That’s what people who live life to the fullest do. They think about life like one long road trip with lots of learning opportunities, if you’re willing to try. 

Stanford University Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck talks about the growth mindset in her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” and in this talk

According to her, how we think predicts our future success. 

In other words, we live life to the fullest when we’re forever growing. As Carol Dweck herself said, “Becoming is better than being.” 

5) Failure

The fear of failure is a common theme in the lives of people who draw a huge circle around them. In those who find it hard to step outside that circle and live life to the fullest

Here’s where the growth mindset would come in handy once again. When you can see experiences as opportunities as learning, you’ll also find it easier to accept the failures that might come with it. 

Personally, I found this tough to accept at first. As a planner, I like being in control. I like knowing how things will go and have contingencies for every possible situation. 

Eventually though, I noticed that: a) Life truly doesn’t always go the way I want it to, and 2) the end of the world didn’t come whenever I failed. 

So, don’t be afraid to say “no” to your fear of failure. Trust me, the sky won’t fall if things go off-course.

What’s more, the more you get comfortable with failure, the easier it will be for you to stop saying “no” to…

6) Risks

You’ve probably heard this before – life is a gamble. If you don’t take risks, you’re pretty much resigning yourself to a humdrum existence. 

Let me give you an example. I once went on a beach trip in the Philippines with a group of friends. We set out on a boat to go island-hopping, and we were all excited. 

Except for one. She didn’t want to get out of the boat and explore the sea caves with us. 

So there we all were, having the time of our lives swimming and running our hands over the fascinating crevices in the rocks…

…While she sat in the boat waiting for us to come back. Because she couldn’t take the risk and take the plunge with us. 

There are many such instances in life that present huge rewards. The only thing is, you’ve got to be willing to risk it. 

Otherwise, you’d be stuck in the boat like my friend was and miss out on something that could’ve spiced up your life. 

7) Kindness

Now I’d like to talk a bit about a big part of what makes us human – relationships. Interactions. 

We can’t deny that the energy we give out plays a huge role in the fullness or emptiness of our lives. 

And there’s no doubt about it – positivity wins over negativity. Or apathy. 

The problem is, we can sometimes be too preoccupied with our goals and to-do lists that we don’t really pay much attention to how we treat others. 

But people who live their lives to the fullest are always mindful. They extend kindness not just to the people they know, but to strangers as well. 

When I look at my own circle of friends, the ones I feel are the most vibrant and full are the ones who volunteer or make kindness the theme of their lives

And you know what? Science agrees. A recent review of kindness research found that people who practiced kindness regularly tended to have happier lives. 

I suppose it’s because it addresses our basic need for close relationships, which in turn leads to greater happiness.

8) Meaningful conversations

Speaking of close relationships, do you engage in deep conversations? The ones where you’re vulnerable and you speak from the heart? 

If yes, then you’re absolutely nailing the living-life-to-the-fullest part! 

Think about it – when you’re able to connect with somebody through a genuine, heartwarming chat, don’t you feel fuller and more satisfied? 

Not many people realize this, and prefer to stick to small or shallow talk for fear of getting in too deep. 

Sadly, this makes them miss out on the chance to be real, raw, and honest with a fellow human being. 

9) Alone time

How about meaningful conversations with yourself? It might surprise you to know that alone time isn’t the sad, lonely thing it’s made out to be. 

It’s actually a necessary part of living life to the fullest. 

You see, when we’re talking about living our best lives, we have to start with the self. That’s the root of it all. 

It’s only when we take the time to sit down and self-reflect, to do things that nourish our soul, do we find out who we really are. 

That self-discovery and knowledge then serves as a compass for everything else we do in life. When you know who you are and what you stand for, you’re bound to make the best decisions possible for yourself. 

10) Gratitude

Finally, we get to gratitude. Do you take things for granted and maybe even feel a little entitled to what you have? Or do you take a moment to count your blessings? 

I hope it’s the latter. Because that’s the better route to a fuller life. 

You see, gratitude turns our feeling of “Why don’t I have this and that?” to “Wow, I have a lot!”

It flips the switch in our head from scarcity to abundance. Essentially, when you acknowledge the good things in your life, you also start to attract more of them, like a positivity loop. 

The more grateful you are, the more life gives you reasons to be grateful. If that’s not the picture of a full life, I don’t know what is! 

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