In 2012-2014, I didn’t want to live anymore. I was in college: constantly missing my classes, partying too hard, and sick of the superficial and toxic culture. Despite this, in 2017 I attended graduate school, made dean’s list, and founded a company. I started to love my life. You might be wondering how I made this drastic change. I did it by utilizing the ARCHES Method that I created, which I will share with you here.
1. Alacrity: What excites you?
Alacrity is a cheerful readiness. The first step to loving your life a little bit more is joy. Ask yourself: “what excites me?” This is because what excites you will bring joy to your life. We underestimate the importance of joy. It helps us feel grateful for what we have. It gives us a reason to keep going and makes the journey worthwhile and more important than the destination.
How do you recognize your alacrity? It’s what makes your eyes widen. It’s what you pay attention to and it’s the things you remember. When you are enthusiastic, you lean in. This begins to bridge the gap between who you are and who you can become.
My alacrity came from learning with purpose in mind. It helped me learn faster and gain credibility with the people around me. I was given more responsibility and opportunities at work because I was eager to learn and go the extra mile. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good attitude, it’s contagious.
2, Resilience: What drives you?
Resilience is the ability to recover from or to withstand adversity. Knowing what drives you will become your fuel in your story of resilience. For me, the quest for healing and social justice drove me. I was motivated to do my part to fix the things that felt unfair to me. This is why I chose to get my Masters in Social Work. The emphasis on human rights and social justice gave me a reason to keep going, even if I had previously felt there was no reason to keep going when I was suicidal.
Sometimes we don’t know what drives us. We can look for clues. Do you ever listen to someone who inspires you and something they say gives you chills? Let that guide you in determining what drives you. Our body picks up on things before our conscious mind picks up on things.
3. Conviction: What do you stand for?
Conviction is what you stand for. What you stand for shows who you are. When I was first starting out, I was a contradiction of the things I believed in. I had strong beliefs, but I did not embody them. I did not stand up for what I believed in. What meaning do our beliefs hold if we do not stand up for them? And how can we ever love our own lives if we are not embodying our values?
For me, having conviction changed how I showed up in the world. It’s how I earned credibility with myself and how I gained my own self-respect. If there’s one thing that can immediately make you love your life a little bit more, it’s having conviction. Doing what you say you are going to do, can change your life for the better. Knowing you stand for something that matters to you without contradicting those beliefs- but instead, embodying them, has extraordinary power.
4. Heart: What matters to you?
The most important part of loving your life is living a life that matters to you. Perhaps a simple concept, but complicated in practice. It becomes complicated when we value other people’s opinions more than our inner voice. It can happen when we put our relationships before our own wellbeing. We can even lose sight of what matters to us as we try to provide for our basic needs.
A common thing I see as a creativity coach is people waiting for retirement, their kids to turn 18, to graduate, to find a partner, to gain confidence to live a life that matters to them. They feel that what matters to them is secondary and distracting from what seems practical. But who determines what is practical? Society? The people who raised you? Experts?
But who is an expert in the topic of YOUR life? Shouldn’t that be YOU? The problem with waiting to live a life of meaning is that we take for granted the things that do currently matter to us, waiting for that perfect moment when we can pursue our dreams. We take for granted the life we have now, idealizing a life in the future that may not even exist if we don’t have courage today.
After asking myself this question, I realized that depth and meaning is what matters to me. When you truly listen to people, you find out what matters to them by the look in their eyes, the rhythm of their speech and the gravity of their breath. And living a life that matters to you is not selfish, but a gift we give to those around us. Heart transforms ordinary into extraordinary, and when you listen to someone you hear the extraordinary depth and meaning shine through from their heart to yours.
5. Education: What skills can you acquire to serve others in a meaningful way?
What’s next, now that you’ve been honest with yourself about what excites you, what drives you, what you stand for, and what matters to you? Education! I’d like to introduce you to the concept of a growth mindset from Carol Dweck in her book mindset. A growth mindset acknowledges you can acquire skills at any time and get better at the things you need to improve on.
Ask yourself, “what skills can I acquire to serve others in a meaningful way?” Consider what skills you have acquired in the past that you serve with in a meaningful way. Did you at one point not know how to do that? I’m sure you didn’t, because we don’t start off knowing everything. We only learn and get better through time and practice.
Again, think back to what excites you. How could you learn about the things that excite you? The things that matter to you? The things you stand for? This might start with a simple google, TikTok, or YouTube search. You can advance by getting an online course or a coach. Many coaches and online teachers offer free content to educate their audience. Who could you follow to learn more?
The first step is having the belief that you can learn. Then, it’s important to learn something worthwhile. Finally, the last step is serving with what you learn. This is the last step because it is the most rewarding. This is what makes the difference between the life you live and the life you love.
6. Service: How can you help others in a meaningful way?
Helping others in a meaningful way can truly make the difference, not only in your life, but the life of others. If you make a difference even in one person’s life, that will cause a ripple effect on others. Serving one person through teaching, coaching, or in whatever way matters to you will ripple when that one person is inspired to share it with others. People will especially share what you taught them with others when it is exceptional. And if you’ve made it this far reading, you have the grit it takes to be exceptional.
Anyone can help another person, but how often is it meaningful? Meaning means something different to everyone. One person may find meaning in writing and sharing fiction while others may find meaning in volunteering. It’s not important what you find meaning in, as long as you aren’t causing anyone harm. It’s only important that you do find meaning.
Putting it all together
Ask yourself if what excites you, what drives you, what you stand for, and what matters to you are aligned with your long-term and short term goals. If they are not, adjust your goals to meet the life that will make you happy and fulfilled. There’s nothing more important.
If you want to go deeper on this topic and how my own life has changed from the ARCHES Method, join our discord here!
We will be exploring these topics in community on our discord server, a safe space for mental health and suicide prevention. We are hosting the Love Your Life A Little More discovery questions in that channel. We post self-discovery questions on Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays we share what we are grateful for in our gratitude channel. Join us here.