General Question

curiouscatt's avatar

My life is losing all of its substance. How do I start living?

Asked by curiouscatt (50points) April 27th, 2010

I work full-time in an office for a large portion of the day and usually get home at 7 or 8 at night before having to go to bed at 10 or 11, leaving me with little (2–3 hrs) free time. I’m starting to get depressed, bored, and lonely from sitting in front of a computer all day to sitting in front of a TV/computer all night until I go to sleep.

How can I start living my life? As much as I’d like to just quit my job and buy a plane ticket to Europe and stop thinking about the future, that’s just not realistic right now. I’m looking for small ways to start improving my quality of life and want to start feeling like I’m actually living. I want to start meeting new people, helping more people, becoming more active, having more adventures, etc.

I’m looking at weekend volunteer opportunities, but that’s about all I can think of. How can I start feeling like I’m living life to the fullest?

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34 Answers

snowberry's avatar

How many hours a week do you work? If you’re not exercising, you need to start. It will improve your outlook sooo much. Do that in the morning, and it will improve your outlook, and if you go to a public gym, you’ll find some friends there.

seekingwolf's avatar

You need to find your passion and channel that into some hobbies…perhaps during your free time or on free days? I would do some thinking/exploring. Is there something you always wanted to learn or take up?

Also, do you have any pets?

Jill_E's avatar

Maybe take one daytrip per month. Places you would like to visit or revisit locally or a little further. You don’t have to spend hotels overnight. A daytrip is great.

Volunteering is great. I used to do that volunteering with preK kids and loved it. They can use the help they can use. I’ve been itching to do Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization.

Or go to a favorite coffee shop or bookstore after work. There is nothing like a cup of java in hand and stack of magazines sitting in a cozy chair.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

My life matches yours. I make a point to go out at least one night a week, even if it’s just to the coffee shop. If the weather’s nice, I sit out front and talk to people. I stopped waiting for people to ask me to do things, and I’m the one that does the asking, or I go alone. I like listening to new bands, and will do that by myself sometimes. I got rid of the television.

Nullo's avatar

I’ve found that taking a few days off to go hunting is remarkably relaxing.

reconsuelo's avatar

Start with taking lunch outside of the office, especially if its nice out! That helped me. You sometimes forget there’s an outside world..

curiouscatt's avatar

@snowberry Thanks for the response. I want to start exercising but again I end up working so many hours per week not because of my schedule but because of projects that need to get done. I wake up at 6:30, leave at 7:30, commute an hour each way and get home at 7 or 8 at night (sometimes 9) allowing me 3 hours before bedtime at most (tonight is an exception). This probably isn’t an excuse not to exercise but I really value my down time since I’m so mentally exhausted at the end of each day.

@seekingwolf As as said, my free time is limited. I’m looking for suggestions that can accommodate that.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Thanks for the suggestion, I already use Idealist to stay up to date with cool volunteer opportunities and it’s awesome.

@nullo Sorry, but “time off” is sort of non-existent in my industry.

Thanks so far for taking the time to answer, everyone. Looking forward to more.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Better arrange some regularly scheduled YOU TIME away from the home and away from work.

That can begin with an early morning walk around your neighborhood… every morning, rain or shine, heat or cold, at the same time. Get out and walk.

These walks will provide further ideas about what to do with your future.

earthduzt's avatar

I’d say take a vacation? Nothing like a good vacation preferably to somewhere warm and tropical to get the blood flowing. Also maybe take up some sort of hobby or hobbies, like I have several. I have my reef tanks that I love, I also have a poison dart frog terrarium and a 1400 gallon koi pond in my back yard I built from scratch. Then there is my one true love which is scuba diving (snorkeling if I don’t have the time). Maybe go skydiving (I’d rather go under the Earth than above) or something like that, skiing or snowboarding (depending on where you live) all these can be done relatively inexpensively depending on location of course. They will break the monotony sometimes everyday life can produce. Little mini vacations are awesome, but if you take them just make sure not to stay at home, go do something and while you are at home pick up a hobby they do wonders for your mood and can be very therapeutic.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Do Bikram Yoga – it will change your life.

snowberry's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies gave you your answer here. There is wisdom there. Listen.

Nullo's avatar

@curiouscatt You don’t even get weekends? o_o

jazmina88's avatar

gardening…..even container gardening if you are in the city

curiouscatt's avatar

@Nullo I’m available during the weekends, I just hate allowing myself to feel so unfulfilled during the week which in reality is about 70 percent of my life (and let’s be honest – I sit on my ass all weekend too because I’m so drained from work)

Pandora's avatar

Join a gym that is open late. You get fit and get to meet others who have your schedule. Exercising is great for lifting your mood and gives you a chance to meet other people late in the evening. Planet fitness only charges 10 to 20 dollars a month only and usually are open till midnight. The atmosphere is pretty relax, not like some hard core gyms and they have a lot of gym equipment so your not just left standing waiting for one to be available.
But in the mean time you simply may need to take a trip somewhere to loosen up and unwind.

Nullo's avatar

@curiouscatt A good sit in the woods might help you out, too. That’s most of what hunting is, anyway. :D
It’s actually a lot like camping with a purpose.

zophu's avatar

Is your diet perfect? Nutrition improves everything else. I find that with just simple changes to my daily meals, things get magically easier every week. It’s retarded how good healthy food is for you.

Also, outdoor activities. I’m talking nature, woods and shit. Go hiking if you don’t want to bother camping. Alone if you don’t want to take anyone with you. Take lots of water, wear comfortable clothes, take lots of breaks, make sure you don’t hurt yourself or get lost. Being in wilderness will remind you what this world is made of and make you feel much better—or it will at least make you feel something valuable. Also retarded how good physical activity is for you.

You can’t trust any negative feelings you have if you aren’t healthy with your diet and exercise. Feeling a little off will screw up your entire life if it’s consistent.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Check out they have so many different kinds of groups, you won’t believe it. One in my area is called ‘Backroads Wine and Nature Adventures’ and it’s so cool! The group leader knows of all these beautiful, hidden nature spots in N. California and takes people on fun hiking adventures (some are more Indiana Jones than others, depends on how much you want to rough it) which often conclude with wine tasting or a nice picnic or meal somewhere.

Anyway, you could find a group that really appeals to you, which would allow you to meet people, to get out and do things, and have something to look forward to.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

You could try geocaching.

It’s treasure hunting using your gps, to find hidden treasures by other people. It gets you out & about. You can meet others who are also hunting for the same treasures. Check it out, may be something you could really get into.

lilikoi's avatar


To me, that you spend a lot of time recovering from work and that your work leaves you feeling unfulfilled are red flags that perhaps you are not on the path you want to be on.

I could have written what you wrote, because I felt the same way 2 years into my profession. I did weekend volunteer work, I even served on NPO boards, and did hiking when I could in my free time, as well as travel as soon as I had accrued maximum vacation time each year (more countries than years worked as well as frequent weekend trips inter-island). It did not do it for me. I ended up quitting and I am now anxiously anticipating my one way ticket backpacking adventure.

Exercise is a must, as others have said, but you should also carve out some quiet time to reflect on where you are and where you want to go in life.

If work is draining you, and you have to spend more time than you would like recovering from it (as was the case for me), it may help you to try to get to the bottom of why this is the case.

What do you like/dislike about your job, what are the pros/cons, what is on your career wish list and will you be able to get this out of your job, etc.

For me, I eventually concluded that if my chosen profession was a better fit for who I am, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time and energy recovering. Long story short, I’m pretty sure I’m switching fields.

I think periodic reflection helps to keep you on track to getting what you want out of life before it all passes you by. Your situation may be different, and perhaps a career change is not what you need, but it can’t hurt to think about your goals and how your job fits into them.

Check out Nicholas Lore’s The Pathfinder. I’ve recommended this book so many times on Fluther people probably think I’m secretly him by now, but this book really helped me work through my version of what you are describing.

skfinkel's avatar

While I don’t like to advocate for irresponsibility, if you have no one except yourself that you are responsible for, and you really think this job is taking you no where, and you have no other life you are enjoying to speak of, I would heartily support you walking away from it all, buying a ticket to Europe or where it is you would like to go, and go there. Stay for as long as you like, learn a new language, find out what you really want to do, and when you come back, whenever that might be, you can pursue your new found vocation. Or, you can get another job of some kind that you like more. This is your life—now—every day.

bobloblaw's avatar

Do what I did: buy a decent road/hybrid bike. Start biking and try to go farther each time you go out. When you are ready, find some biking groups and start biking with them. Once you’ve gotten pretty good at that, start biking after you come home from work. The world looks a lot different from the seat of a bike as opposed to a car.

Pandora's avatar

@curiouscatt I came across this website about stress and burnout and I thought of your question. It described how you felt and had some really good ideas for dealing with burnout.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Pay off your debts and join the peace corp. Or just pay off your debts and go do something else that always interested you.

nisse's avatar

Wow, this question pretty much sums up exactly how I feel. Please share in the thread if any of these suggestions make your life better.

myopicvisionary's avatar

Make your first change today! Any change at all will be an improvement. It does not have to be monumental. Exercise in the morning (walk or jog) and after work, don’t go straight home. Call an old friend and meet them somewhere. Start by breaking your old routine.

SeventhSense's avatar

In all honesty you need to start striving, fighting or becoming passionate about something. If nothing more than the desire to overcome this creeping malaise. Our lives work best in action not mental contemplation. As a formula 90% action and 10% contemplation works best for me. Any more and I become self indulgent, self pitiful and just morose. Get out and build a kite….then fly it.

MrsCarder's avatar

I say you get a couple of good friends over on Wednesday and have a mini dinner party. Plan for about 9pm and either you can cook a simple meal, or just go ahead with take out. The point is to do something fun, and without alot of exertion I think. Grab a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers, order some Chinese or pizza and enjoy some good company. I used to be similar to that, and I would call a friend and talk for hours with the radio on low. Or another I would grab the newest book in my “library” and read for an hour or two with a glass of wine, or a coke and just enjoy something different. Once you get one night going then you will be spurred to go another night.

My mother always said that once you give up its hard to get back up…..You have to make yourself start moving to get flowing again. Baby steps…..

MrsCarder's avatar

and stop making excuses!!!

Aster's avatar

Poor thing. Don’t you have any love in your life? If not, find someone and get a different job. You need a new environment.

zophu's avatar

@Aster Amazing what just a new environment can do. A change in where you are, what you do and most importantly, the people you’re with can change your entire world. Too bad we live in such a hypercompetitive civilization, it’s not so easy to shift from one place to another.

It really is too bad. People are always so overaggressive/overdefensive. There’s so little balance to be found. . . The worst part is there’s no one you can really blame, because you’d just be falling down the same rabbit hole. You just have to find a way to stay on your feet in this insane game until enough players realize no one’s keeping score. People get trampled all the time, who’s to say you aren’t one of them? I sometimes feel like society’s just one long joke and the greatest aspiration one can have is to make it to the punchline. Be one of the few still able to laugh.

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