Here are some science-based ways to make the most of the life you have here on earth.
If you asked a million people, you might get a million different answers about what it means to live life to the fullest. For some, it might involve traveling. For others, it could mean raising a family. Still others may be on a mission to solve some important social problem. What’s common among these definitions is that each one involves finding meaning or purpose in what one is doing or how one is spending their time—the life is one that is exciting or fulfilling for the individual.
Numerous studies have shown that meaning in life, contentment, and satisfaction in life all contribute to greater well-being. Meaning in life is also related to greater feelings of love and joy and lower fear, anger, shame, and sadness (Steger, Frazier, Oishi, & Kaler, 2006). This suggests that living life to the fullest may be crucial for our happiness.
Science suggests we can take some specific actions if we’re looking to live a more full, fulfilling, and meaningful life. Below we talk about these strategies and offer some additional tips that can help you start exploring potential ways to live your life to the fullest.
Fill up your life with things that make you happy
According to the research, positive emotions may have a big influence on how full and meaningful our life feels. For example, in a series of studies, King and colleagues (2006) showed that boosting people’s positive emotions resulted in subsequent increases in their sense of meaning in life. More specifically, it seems that positive emotions experienced in a given day contribute to a greater sense of meaning that day.
This suggests that we can live our lives to the fullest by making sure that we do fun, exciting, or positive activities daily. In fact, prioritizing positive activities has been shown in other research to be linked with greater life satisfaction, more positive emotions, and fewer negative emotions (Catalino, Algoe, & Fredrickson, 2014). So, living life to the fullest may simply involve engaging in activities that you enjoy.
Write a ‘live life to the fullest’ essay
Writing and journaling can be good ways to explore what really matters to you. So you might consider writing a ‘live life to the fullest’ essay. Start by visualizing what your life would look like if you were living it to the fullest. How would you be spending your time? Who would you be with? Where would you be? Then, use this visualization to create a list of things that contribute to you living your life to the fullest. This essay can serve as somewhat of a personal mission statement to help you create the life you want.
Help others make their lives full by practicing kindness
A systematic review of the research offers compelling evidence that practicing random acts of kindness—that is, being kind to other people for no specific reason—increases our satisfaction with our lives (Curry et al., 2018). The idea that making others’ lives better also makes our lives better might be counterintuitive, but it really works. This may be in part because doing good for others can help us feel more socially connected and feel like our lives have more meaning.
Fill your life with gratitude
Gratitude may just be one of the easiest ways to make more of your life. It uses the good things we already have in our lives and focuses our attention on them. As a result, we realize that our lives are more full than we thought. Maybe we realize that we actually do have a lot of important people in our lives, and that knowledge makes us feel a sense of meaning. Or, we start to appreciate the successes we’ve had instead of focusing so much on the failures.
Other Tips to Help You Live Life to the Fullest
Although the science-based techniques we’ve discussed so far have been shown to help boost meaning and well-being, not every tool or technique that can help you live your life to the fullest has been studied in academic research. So here are a few more ideas to explore. Hopefully, they can help you discover the strategies that work best for you.
Try new things
Spend less time on your phone
Explore what gives your life meaning
Live life with no regrets
Try daily affirmations
Do mindfulness exercises
Make new friends
Do exercise that you enjoy
Take advantage of opportunities
Use your strengths
Savor the moment
Do something you’re proud of
Get clear on what you want
Take action on your goals
Find your purpose (or purposes)
Connect with others by asking them deeper questions
Create your own definition of success
Get clear on your core values
Listen to your gut
Cultivate new, healthier habits
Build life skills
Create a bucket list
Overcome your fears
Putting a little bit of thought and effort into how to live your life fully can help you make big changes fairly quickly. Hopefully, the tips provided here got you off on the right foot.
Catalino, L. I., Algoe, S. B., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2014). Prioritizing positivity: An effective approach to pursuing happiness?. Emotion, 14(6), 1155.
King, L. A., Hicks, J. A., Krull, J. L., & Del Gaiso, A. K. (2006). Positive affect and the experience of meaning in life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 90(1), 179.
Curry, O. S., Rowland, L. A., Van Lissa, C. J., Zlotowitz, S., McAlaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 320-329.
Steger, M. F., Frazier, P., Oishi, S., & Kaler, M. (2006). The meaning in life questionnaire: assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. Journal of counseling psychology, 53(1), 80.