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YOLO: What It Means & 23 Secrets to Live Life Like You Only Live Once

What’s the meaning of YOLO? Find out the true meaning of YOLO, and learn how to live like You Only Live Once.

meaning of yolo

If you’ve been around for the last couple of years, then you’ll have heard the term YOLO. But what is the meaning of YOLO? YOLO isn’t actually a word in itself. It’s an abbreviation for four words: You Only Live Once.

If you’re a young person, you’ll know what YOLO means. If you’re a little older, you might remember the phrase “carpe diem.” YOLO means about the same thing.

The idea is to let go of all your reservations, and live the life you really want – because you’ll only get one chance to live it.

This feature will tell you the true meaning of YOLO, and how to take this attitude in your life. By living life to the fullest, embracing risk, and acting without fear, you can become the best version of yourself.

The meaning of YOLO

YOLO, or You Only Live Once, is a call to live your life to its fullest extent. This includes embracing behavior that carries inherent risk. It encourages us to live spontaneously and make the most of the present moment, in the knowledge that life is short and there are no second chances.

The first mention of YOLO in pop culture came from hip-hop star Drake, in his 2011 mixtape YOLO. It then became popular on the internet in 2012, and has since become ubiquitous, being featured in songs, books, TV shows, graffiti, tattoos, and even merchandise. Since it was added to the dictionary in 2014, YOLO has been controversial and widely criticized.

This is because some people use this term as a means to justify their dangerous and immature behavior. But that’s not the true meaning of YOLO.

There’s a difference between going on a super high roller coaster, and driving the wrong way down the highway; YOLO justifies thrill-seeking, but it never justifies hurting others or yourself. [Read: How to date an adrenaline junkie – without risking your life]

What stops you from living the meaning of YOLO?

It may seem silly to need someone to tell you to live your life. But there are far too many people out there who have been living their life the wrong way. They’re stuck in the same old routines, and they don’t know how to change things. [Read: How to get a life – 20 ways to break your routine and feel alive again ]

You might be one of these people. It could be hard to change because you have a 9-to-5 job that takes up a lot of your time. Or, it could be that you have toxic friends or relatives that might judge you. You may even be an overthinker who finds it hard to be spontaneous.

Whatever it is, there’s some kind of constraint that stops you from living the way you want.

If this all sounds familiar, YOLO could be the motto that changes your life. The true meaning of YOLO is all about breaking free from these constraints.

It’s about remembering that you only have just one lifetime to do everything your heart desires.

It’s never too late to change your life, and embracing YOLO could be your first step. [Read: 18 ways to become more spontaneous and start loving life]

How to live your life according to the meaning of YOLO

Now you know the true meaning of YOLO, and how it can transform your life. So, if you’re ready to embrace the fact that you only live once, here are the best ways to live according to YOLO.

1. Find your passion

You’d be surprised how many people go through life without ever finding the one thing they’re most passionate about. Finding your passion could lead you to find your purpose in life, and that alone will increase your happiness.

2. Cut out negative people

There are negative people everywhere. However, if you want to live by the meaning of YOLO, they shouldn’t be in your life.

You only have this one life, so why would you spend it being surrounded by people who bring you down? Ditch them. You’ll thank us later. [Read: Empowering ways to stop negative people from sapping your energy]

3. Stop complaining and act

Do you moan and groan about your issues, but do nothing to fix them? Well, then, we have some news for you! If you really want to live your life to the fullest, then complaining about things is not the way to go.

Complaining just wastes time, and creates more negativity. The meaning of YOLO is all about actions; you only have one life, so don’t let problems take over. Identify the issue and then fix it right away.

4. Spend one day a week doing whatever you want

How can you live a happy life if you don’t ever get to do what you want? Everyone should have a “me day” once a week, in order to live their life to the fullest.

You could choose Sunday for this, as it’s the day most people don’t work.

5. Ignore your critics

There will always be people who judge you. They might even try to change what you do. Those people are the opposite of the meaning of YOLO.

As long as you’re not doing something illegal or immoral, you should never listen to them. Ignore everything they have to say, and you’ll find much more happiness and fulfillment in your life. [Read: Toxic people – 25 early warning signs to watch out for]

6. Volunteer somewhere

Volunteering at a charity or community project might not seem very YOLO, but we disagree. Helping others is a profound way to not only become a better version of yourself, but also to allow someone else to live their best life.

You’re spreading YOLO to others, too – how cool is that?

7. Be kind to strangers

Random acts of kindness are spontaneous, impulsive, and spread joy. You never know what your act of kindness will mean to someone you don’t know.

Maybe it’ll make their whole day. Maybe it’ll make their whole year. Either way, it’s in the spirit of YOLO! Do something nice for a stranger at every opportunity you get. [Read: 15 ways to be someone who always says, ‘I love my life‘]

8. Stay up way too late

Sure, science says you should get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But what science doesn’t tell you is that if you stay up extra late one night, *because you’re doing something crazy*, it’s worth the sleep deprivation. Don’t waste your life sleeping – stay up and do something you won’t forget.

9. Practice getting better at something you suck at

You might suck at drawing. Maybe you’re bad at dancing. Whatever you’re not-so-good at, do it anyway! Do things that make you happy, whether you’re good at them or not.

Getting better at something you were terrible at is a great way to build self-esteem, and show yourself you can do anything. You’ll find joy in seeing your improvement, no matter how small. [Read: What am I doing with my life? How to shake off a quarter-life crisis]

10. Do something crafty at least once a month

You’ll never truly understand how calming, relaxing, and fun doing crafts is until you’ve spent a decent amount of time doing it.

It brings you into a different mindset, and nothing is better than creating something with your bare hands. Trying something totally new is definitely the meaning of YOLO.

11. Listen to your music way too loud

To hell with what the neighbors say! Music speaks to us on a level we can’t describe. So if you need to feel that music more than normal, crank it up until you can’t hear yourself think! *as long as it’s not late at night and waking everyone up* YOLO, right? [Read: Life’s a bitch – 17 feel-good ways to turn your life around]

12. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Stress can bring everything in your life to a halt, but only if you let it. Stop worrying about small things and spend your time improving your life.

Focus on making things better, rather than worrying about them. Remember, YOLO, so don’t waste it!

13. Exercise at least three days a week

Exercise isn’t just important for staying healthy and living longer. It shows you what your body is capable of, and that can be extremely gratifying.

You’ll never be living your life to the fullest if you don’t know all that you can do. [Read: 25 inspirational workout tips to keep you motivated]

14. Eat 70% healthy and 30% guilty

Being healthy is important; what goes into your body can have an impact on how you feel day-to-day. If you really want to live your life to the fullest, you have to fill your body with stuff that’s good for you.

However, the meaning of YOLO is all about saying yes, not no. This means you can also splurge on the tasty stuff every now and again too! [Read: How to be happy in life and enjoy it to the fullest]

15. Clear your mind

If you want to live out the meaning of YOLO in a positive way, you need to clear your mind. Studies have shown that stress sabotages impulse control.

When you’re stressed, it’s harder for your mind to differentiate between fun, spontaneous impulses, and potentially dangerous ones. If you clear your mind of stress, you can be impulsive more safely.

16. Manage your inner critic

You can’t live by YOLO if you judge yourself – so stop being your own worst critic! When you feel the urge to do something, don’t second-guess it.

Don’t worry about looking silly, or focus on how others might react. Instead, follow your dreams and impulses to their fullest extent, without judging yourself. [Read: Self-sabotage – How you’re ruining your own life without knowing it]

17. Conquer your bad habits

Living by the meaning of YOLO is all about making the most of life, and becoming your best self. The easiest way to become a better you is kicking your bad habits.

Write out a list of everything you do that you dislike. This could be smoking, talking over others, or even watching too much TV. Once you’ve identified your bad habits, you can start to work on conquering them.

18. Be intentional

Everything you do in life should work towards the meaning of YOLO. Living with intention like this will ensure you never waste a moment, and keep you focused on the fact you only have one life. Even when you’re doing menial tasks, keep your new motto at the front of your mind.

19. Visualize yourself living the way you want

Create an image in your mind of your best self; what you look like, how you act, and the kind of life you lead.

Once you’ve visualized yourself living the way you want, you can continue to live your life with the intention of becoming that person. Having a clear idea of your goals is the best way to achieve them. [Read: Positive self-talk – What it is and how to master it]

20. Take responsibility for your actions

One of the biggest criticisms of the YOLO philosophy is that it encourages irresponsible behavior.

No matter how spontaneous, crazy or impulsive your actions are, always take responsibility for them. You don’t want to give other people the wrong idea about the true meaning of YOLO.

21. Let go of fear

When you’re faced with a new experience, don’t feel afraid – embrace the mystery! Although fear of the unknown is natural, it can hold you back from living a YOLO life.

If you truly believe that you only live once, you’ll move towards new experiences, as they expand your worldview and break your routine. Step out of your comfort zone as often as you can. [Read: How to be fearless – 18 fear-busting ways to live like a champion]

22. Stop negative labeling

Maybe you think people who skydive are crazy. Perhaps you think that nude art modeling is narcissistic, or that you’ll only embarrass yourself if you join that sports club.

Ditch the negativity if you want to live by the meaning of YOLO. Negative labeling only prevents you from experiencing everything life has to offer.

23. Who cares what others think?

After all, it’s your life, not theirs! Don’t listen to the haters. There will always be those who want to stop you from living your best life, and the YOLO philosophy is all about defying them.

It’s up to you to show them what an exciting, open-minded, and positive person you are! [Read: How to deal with haters, get rid of the negativity and keep your zen]

What YOLO isn’t about

As we mentioned earlier, there are those who criticize YOLO as a way of life. There have been cases where YOLO has been used as a justification for risky behavior; irresponsible people have made decisions on impulse that have seriously harmed others, and given “you only live once” as a valid reasoning.

YOLO should always be positive, not negative. When following the steps in this feature, always be conscious of how your behavior will affect you, and the people around you.

The backbone of the YOLO philosophy is respect for life as a precious, one-off gift – never waste it. This means you should never do anything in your pursuit of YOLO that causes harm to others, their lives, or your own.

The next time you’re worried about whether or not you’re living how you want, just think YOLO! You only live once, so embrace this motto responsibly and get more out of life.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...