The best years of your life: how to notice and enjoy them

The Best Years of Your Life and How to Live it Right Now

I have crazy thoughts sometimes in the normal way that many of us do. Sometimes if I’m feeling low, anxious or stressed those thoughts can be cruel and unhelpful.

There are a few themes that pop up around the lines of “you’re useless”, “you’ll never amount to anything” and “you can’t cope”. These kind of thoughts are not helpful at anytime and especially not when you’re feeling a bit fragile.

But on my early morning walk today things were a bit different.  I wasn’t feeling down I was feeling fine. Not blissed out,  ecstatic, sure-to-crash-soon fine, just quietly contented and happy with my lot.

But I was also thinking about my 15 year old son who complains that school is boring, school work sucks and adults are out to get him. I was thinking about the tragedy of him not realizing that these may well be the best years of his life.

I could be wrong there, but from my side of the fence his life looks great. He has good friends, no cares in the world, two parents and two siblings who love him and would like to get to know him better, plenty of yummy food to eat, a comfy bed and a bedroom of his own with a computer where he can indulge in his number one favorite activity in the whole world; playing a computer game called League of Legends.

Even if these teenaged years aren’t the best years of his life they’re not bad.

Then I looked around me and thought about my life. It was 6.45am and I was on the way back home after a beach walk. I’d bumped into a friend and we walked together for a while chatting, but mostly I walked alone.

The ocean was churned up and the sound of the sea filled my ears. The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting and I knew I’d be home in time to kiss my boys goodbye before they left for school and then spend some time with my girl eating my favorite breakfast before going off to do chores, meeting a new Web design client and starting work on a big new copywriting job.

Then a thought suddenly popped into my head:

“These are the best years in YOUR life!”

And I realized it was true.

Childhood is great. There are fewer worries and less pressure when you’re a kid. Hopefully you are loved and well cared for but you don’t fully appreciate it because you’ve never known anything different. Children often have a sense of entitlement and haven’t started exercising their gratitude muscle yet.

Then there are the early adult years which for me, although superficially fun-filled with endless parties and travel, were characterized by a lack of focus and tendency to avoid problems, conflict and making hard choices by getting bombed.

Next came the young family years when I popped out three babies and dealt with post-natal depression which was probably heightened by the fall out from all this sudden responsibility after years of irresponsibility.

Now my kids are older (aged 9, 12 and 15) there are different problems including greater financial pressures, increasing grumpiness from some of them and wildly different personalities all living under the same roof.

I sometimes feel resentful because I have to stay on my son’s case and keep the pressure on him to work. And there are many frustrations like family holidays which can be strained by the spread of ages and ‘meh’ outlook teenagers often have.

But I also realized that this is the endgame in my parenting  life.  I did all the right things when my kids were little and I have to keep doing the right things now.

I sometimes catch myself looking forward to the kids leaving home so I can go back to living life with no compromises and travel more.

But I love my kids and another part of me gets scared and sad about the thought of them all leaving home, not needing me anymore and of the loneliness that may come then. Right now I crave alone time but in the future I’ll miss the kids.

There have been hard times recently; more depression, a midlife crisis and a yearning for new challenges. But all those feelings are a sign that I’m still alive, unlike some people who don’t make it to see their forties. It’s sad to think that some mothers never live long enough to find out what it’s like living with teenagers compared to babies and toddlers because they’re not around.

Now I see that even the hard times can be the best years of your life. A time for learning, growing and changing for the better.

That these really are the best years of my life. The best year of my life, the best month, the best day.

I’ve woken up and realized that right now is all we’ve got.

The best years of our lives are not behind us, nor are they ahead of us.

The best years of our lives are happening right now. All we have to do is look around and appreciate them.

How to have the best year of your life right now, no matter what’s going on

1. Live in the present. Notice when you’re thinking about the past or the future and bring your mind gently back to the present. This is the basis of mindfulness and meditation which I’ve been practicing for 18 months now and which is proven to create a more positive frame of mind.

2. Focus on what you’re doing, even if it’s working,  washing up or something unpleasant like arguing with a loved one. There is joy in every moment, no matter how mundane or painful it seems. There is joy just in being alive and all emotion,s no matter how painful are just a sign that you are a sensitive human being.

3. Breathe and practice mindfulness during both the good and bad times. This will help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings which will help you learn more about yourself so you can better meet your own needs.

4. Keep a gratitude journal and make a note of three things you’re grateful for every day. It only takes a few minutes but it makes a huge and proven difference.

5. Appreciate your loved ones now for what they are. Look around you and thank the people who are helping make your life better. Don’t try to change them, they will change themselves in time. Your job with loved ones, especially with you children if you have them, is to love and appreciate them no matter what. That’s sometimes not easy but it’s always worth working on.

6. Help other people. That will give your own life meaning and bring you more rewards than seeking personal satisfaction through material possessions. Again, it’s psychologically proven, I’m not just making this stuff up.

7. Make ‘these are the best years of my life your mantra. Try to remember how you spend your time, try to notice the details and see the beauty in every moment.

You really can rewire your brain and even improve your body and fitness so every year gets better even though you’re getting older. I saw proof of that at a retreat last week where one of the participants was 89 years old!

So start living the best year of your life right now and remember that, no matter how old you are, the best years of your life may still be ahead of you.

Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra Pawula June 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

What a beautiful message, Annabel. I’m sorry you’ve had some hard times recently. It seems life goes in cycles of peacefulness and challenges. I can see though that a positive attitude has sunk deep into your being. So, despite challenges, you can appreciate how these are the best years of your life right now. That’s truly remarkable and such a sign that all your dedicated inner work is really paying off.

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Annabel Candy June 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

Hi Sandra,

Thank you! There has been a turnaround so all the work I’ve been doing on improving myself is working :) Yay! You’r so right about those cycles but hopefully when bad ones come if we’re more emotionally flexible we’ll be able to move on quicker.

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Linda ~ Journey Jottings June 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I’m so pleased you’re incorporating some ‘me’ time in your hectic schedule by going off to a mindfullness retreat (I love the sound of that 89 year old woman!)
Showing your children that life needs balancing with both coming together with a sense of giving at times, as well as enjoying personal interests and solitude is preparing them not only for life – but more imminently for flat sharing with their peers!

And talking of being in the moment – Sketching is great for stopping and looking and being, and when in the zone is positively meditative :)

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Annabel Candy June 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Hi Linda,

Lol, I think I’m in a flat sharing situation with them right now! Oh I can see how great sketching would be for mindfulness. Now I just need to get over crazy thoughts like I can’t draw and give it a go. I think I’m ready!

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Jackie Davidson June 9, 2014 at 11:37 pm

How very true! It’s so comforting to know that we are all in the same boat. It just takes a very honest person like yourself to make us feel that we are not alone! Thank you Annabel : )

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Annabel Candy June 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hi Jackie,

Thank YOU! That’s a lovely comment.

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Barbara June 10, 2014 at 12:52 am

What a great post, Annabel! I wholeheartedly agree with all your points. And, I’ve always liked teenagers the best. I was never good with babies or toddlers, but once you can begin to reason with them things change for the better, I think.
Glad you are feeling better!
xob

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Annabel Candy June 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hi Barbara,

I love the teens too – but sadly I find they don’t want to be around me ;)

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Seana June 10, 2014 at 8:19 am

Hi Annabel, love it, love it and tis was a great read for me this morning. These parenting years when the kids are older are somuch easier than when they were little. Challenging in other ways, teenagers are tricky. But there’s some freedom again in our lives with the promise of more to come, and I love that.

I didn’t enjoy being a teen much, especially 15, the hardest year. We have big holiday issues here too as really there’s not much to suit us all, nothing in fact. I never went on holiday with my family again after I was 15 so am very sympathetic to the teenagers. Juggle juggle. It’s a lovely morning here and I am going to jog slowly with other women. What’s not to love in my life… and how I feel and deal with it all is up to me. Mindfulness so helpful.

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Annabel Candy June 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Hi Seana,

Gosh it is so much easier and great to see mindfulness is working for you too. It is a juggle but that makes in interesting :)

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sheryl August 8, 2014 at 8:38 am

Hi, I just bumped into this article and I really love it. I guess we all went through the same experiences and I admire you for being so sincere in everything you said. True indeed that the best years of our life is right now. I’ll definitely share this with my friends. Great post!

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