It may seem silly to ask the question, "Are you really living your life?", but it really depends on the context. We are all living beings, of course, experiencing our lives. But what does it mean to truly live? So often, we end up so wrapped up in life itself -- work, responsibilities, stress, dance recitals, bake sales, anxiety -- that we forget to actually live.
There's a famous quote that says, "Most people die at 25, and aren't buried until they're 75." This so powerfully captures the life/living distinction because it essentially points out that so many of us cease to expand our lives and our experiences once we've grown to maturity; we die when we give up on enriching ourselves, only to be buried when our bodies expire. Wow, that sure sounds exciting, doesn't it?
Retirement is often thought of as the point in our lives at which we can finally be 'free'. Kids are grown and self-sustaining, work has lasted for some three-to-four decades, and we've accumulated sufficient wealth to make it through to our end. Now it's time for the real fun! Except, hold on... How many times have we seen this scenario play out, only for that same person to then, unfortunately, die shortly after achieving this state of 'freedom'? It's a terrible thing to put one's life on hold for the majority of it, believing that your 'service time' should dictate when you are able to live it!
Everyone's tastes are different, so it is nigh impossible to provide a list of ways to actually live. Instead, I'll offer some insight, and a few general suggestions that serve to increase your happiness along the way.
At some point in our lives, we cease to be the playful children we once were, believing there is no place for it as a mature and sophisticated adult. Phooey! Life is a cup brimming with possibility and adventure -- enjoy the crap out of it! Play for the sake of playing. Act like a fool. Dance like no one is watching. Let yourself experience the bliss of simply being alive, and doing something that is just plain fun.
This is a huge one, because it improves your life in ways that cannot possibly be measured. You can be having the most awful day, yet there is at least one thing you can be grateful for -- even if it's one more day above ground! Verbalizing or journalling what you are grateful for on a daily basis brings you into the present moment, and allows you to appreciate everything around you. The breath in your lungs. A beautiful sunrise. A bird singing. The smell of freshly brewed coffee. An attitude of gratitude will -- even for a few moments -- help you to appreciate the here-and-now, and put into perspective the anxieties and stresses that fight vehemently to consume our daily lives.
So many of us put off adventures in our lives, feeling that, "the time isn't right...", or, "I don't have the money...". By no means am I suggesting that we empty our bank accounts and go on one hell of an amazing round-the-world bender; rather, I encourage you to take action on inviting adventure into your life on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for the oft-referenced, "right time". The "right time" is right now. Explore a museum. Go for a hike. Take a vacation. Make time to read that book you've had on the shelf for a month. Whatever excites you, take action to invite it into your life in a magnitude that pushes you out of your comfort zone -- especially if your comfort zone involves putting things off until a later time.
These are obviously just a few examples of so, so many that exist in the world. The moral of all this is that the most precious resource we have is time; and time is only truly wasted when we're not making the most of it. When we put it off, believing it will be there when we've crossed some magical threshold and are ready for it, it may already be gone. Live your life every day, because it's a gift that gives back exactly what you put into it.
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