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How to enjoy life and grad school? Sounds like a pretty difficult concept to write about lol. I have been thinking alot about my life and where it is going next. I have also come to the conclusion that I do indeed enjoy grad school and I am starting to enjoy my life as well. It took a very long time, but I think I have found a few ways to get the most out of the cards I am given in life. My enjoyment does not come from the goals or the money I will make. Heck it doesn’t necessarily come from any materialistic thing. No, it comes from a mindset that has taken me a couple years to finally get to. I want to share some of the ways that help me find enjoyment even when things are bad.
So, like all my really amazing posts before this one, I would like to do a list of the things in my life that have helped to make the past 4.5 years pretty good. I think these things are definitely excellent ways to increase your happiness and overall mental state while in grad school. See, grad school is a pretty long, mostly boring, journey that we must take to do research in academia. You will go through many emotions, especially towards the end f it where you are questioning your time and effort into doing grad school. First off, it’s worth it. Getting an advanced degree is totally worth every penny but you many not see that now. So lets get into some ways to enjoy your life and grad school.
1) Whatever you do, do not compare yourself to others, especially those not in grad school.
This is huge because you will have friends that will advance very quickly at work and make a ton of money. You will be stuck in this limbo state where you are making little advances and even less money. Do not compare yourself to their achievements, instead, congratulate them and be happy for them. You may be very jealous of their advances but they may be extremely jealous of your achievements and how you decided to get an advanced degree. I have met countless individuals that have told me that what I do makes them slightly jealous even though they make tons of money and have really fancy things. The grass is greener where you water it for sure.
2) Get outside as much as possible, especially when it’s sunny.
My office does not have windows. In fact, it wasn’t even an office originally, but a storage fridge for chemicals. That means that I could spend a whole day there and not even see the sun or another person. You can see why it’s imperative that I focus on my mental health, because if I don’t, I will be in a bad situation. One of the best things that I do, daily, is walk to campus. For 1 hour a day, I am outside and doing some light exercise. I truly think this has helped me enjoy things more. During the walk, I get to experience a ton of really cool things that I wouldn’t if I rode the bus such as the cool breeze of the morning, the sounds, the smells, and most important, the peace. Getting outside and enjoying the free things in life have made my 4.5 years way more enjoyable.
Yeah, I know, I have written about this countless times. But, it’s something that has helped me significantly. My head, like many others, is a bee hive of thoughts and useless information. It is almost impossible for me to remember anything unless I have a way to calm my brain and extract that info. Meditation has allowed for that to happen. I also suffer from anxiety, which has caused a ton of hardships throughout these years. Meditation has been a key component in reducing those feelings and actually giving me the confidence to overcome the residual anxious feelings that I have towards things. You cannot enjoy life if you are in constant fear of things and worry about things that will or will not happen. Spoiler alert* The things you worry about happening will probably never happen, ever. If you want to learn how to meditate or want to read more about how meditation has helped me, here are a few links to my blog posts (how to meditate here, everything else here).
4) Get a pet or a ton of plants
Taking care of a pet or plants can be a bit difficult but sooooooo worth it. When you are in grad school, you spend a ton of time alone unfortunately so coming home to a pet that is super happy to see you makes your day so much better. Plants are great if you don’t have the time or resources to take care of a pet. Just the act of keeping something alive can really help your mental state as well. Also, plants just make you happy. I love having plants in my apartment because they really make everything look pretty. I also love the whole “nature” look that comes with having them. Here’s an article on how plants make you happy. I think a nice combination of both plants and animals has helped a ton.
5) Surround yourself with good people
One of the hardest things to do is to end a relationship with someone because they are toxic or really don’t bring happiness to your life. I have been here. Having to let someone go out of your life is hard but it has made, at least my life, better. If you have to let someone go because of toxicity, then it is totally justified. Once that is over, surround yourself with non toxic individuals. I have surrounded myself with very uplifting and supportive individuals and I truly believe that has helped me enjoy my life as well as grad school more. You will meet all types of people in grad school so you can almost pick and choose who you want to bring into your weird little world. If you are just starting, try and make friends with supportive individuals and you will see that grad school is not nearly as bad as what you have read on reddit.
Most importantly, have fun while in school and, well, life. You get one chance to make this the best experience ever so being miserable shouldn’t even be an option. What I have shared today has helped get me out of some really tough mental states. I am such a different person than what I was a few years ago. You can definitely have an amazing life adventure if you take the time to truly enjoy the simple things. Happy Saturday everyone. I will see you in the next post.