If you were diagnosed with an incurable illness and were told that you had 6 months to live, would you change anything about the way you lived? Are there things that we consciously or subconsciously put off everyday thinking that there will be plenty of time to do them some other time? Sometimes I feel that life is passing by so quickly. I am reminded of this in the words of a song I love called “100 years”. It’s about life, love and the inevitable passage of time -:
” You’re 22 for a moment ,
Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We’re moving on…
When you’ve only got 100 hundred years to live”
To a teenager, 100 years is eternity. As we mature, 100 years takes on a different meaning; in fact, it’s just 3 generations. My eldest son turned 25 this year. How could that possibly be? I was just 25 myself; quite recently in fact! I am not lamenting, I am in fact very proud and honored to be able to watch my children grow up and find their own path in life. In fact to be able to gain maturity and grow old is a privilege which not all human beings attain in their lifetime.
The months and years roll by at a feverish pace. I think sometimes that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all of the things that I need to do or would like to get done. I consider myself a pretty organized person. I make lists daily of things I need to get done. Before going to sleep, I literally plan all details of my next day: work, meetings, menus and other miscellaneous activities. I don’t really like to leave things to chance. Sometimes I wish that I could be like those who can “play it by ear”. I am not one of those carefree, happy- go-lucky types that can pick up at a moments notice or easily change every plan at the drop of a hat. I am a confirmed planner and I like to try to have everything under control. I feel that organization is the key to getting things achieved. But, if I knew that I had “X” time left, would I be a little more spontaneous and try do things that I have always yearned to do that do not pertain to the everyday rituals of my life?
Here’s the thing… we should not have to have a great health scare to put things into perspective. How about if we each made a list of all the things we would like to do or achieve in our lifetime. Life really is short and it does go by so fast. Why put off for tomorrow things that we can do today. I don’t mean merely prioritizing the things on the bucket list; as this may mean expensive travel and activities which may require a great deal of time, money and preparation to achieve. How many of us could do these things on a whim or on short notice? Earlier when I mentioned perspective, I meant that there are things which we can do right away which will cost us virtually nothing but a change in our mindset. We just need to assess our current lifestyle and make sure that we are living each day to the fullest.
Here are 8 guidelines which I find are important in achieving our life goals and for living our best life everyday.
1. Keep your body and mind in good health.
We all know how our health affects our well being and our ability to work and function effectively in our lives and in society. If you do not already, join a fitness group and begin an excercise program. Just 30 minutes of physical workout at least 3 times per week is an excellent way to keep in shape. Good nutrition is also imperative for your well being. My motto is ” Everything in moderation”. Eat a balanced diet with a good distribution of fruit and vegetables. Eat fewer sugary treats and carb heavy foods, especially in the evening. Drink lots of water and herbal or green teas.
2. Find your purpose in life.
This simply means that you need to find something in your life that you can do or participate in and that will bring you a sense of happiness and fulfillment. It does not have to be something prestigious nor does it have to make you wealthy. It is the feeling associated with a joy and satisfaction of getting up everyday and doing something which brings you inner happiness. There is no guideline for this. It is unique to each person. Find your special talent and allow it to grow and develop. Encourage your inner artist or musician. Be open minded and allow your creativity to lead you.
You may find an unexpected pleasure in doing something which you never realized that you were good at. It could be doing some community service or volunteer work. It does not have to be something which requires a degree or a particular skill set. It must just make you feel excited and enthusiastic about life and living. There is a profound sense of happiness and contentment which can be attained when you are instrumental in helping someone achieve their goals and find their own purpose. Use your strengths to help others who could benefit from learning from your expertise to better their own lives. This is a powerful gift and a good way of finding a deep sense of purpose in your life.
3. Deepen your spirituality.
This does not mean that you have to be religious. Your spiritual journey is a personal one which deepens your knowledge, your truth and your place in the universe. This journey will not only impact you, but will also help your relationship with those around you. As you become more evolved in your spirituality, you will find yourself more connected to God or your source of being. Your respect for nature and your fellow man will also deepen. You will also discover a greater appreciation for your life and your relationships.
4. Focus on the positive.
It is sometimes difficult to maintain a level of positivity in life. Remember that the decision to remain positive is a choice. Once you decide to remain in the optimistic side of things, you will suffer less stress related situations. It is amazing how a positive attitude can change the way you make decisions and perceive the world around you.
5. Invest your time in things that matter.
This is a game changer. Sometimes we spend a great deal of time invested in something which may not bring us any personal growth or happiness. If we chose our activities and invest in things which can contribute to a greater wellbeing, it is definitely time well spent. If you like the work of a certain charity or organization, you can choose to give some time and energy mentoring or investing in its growth. You might be amazed at how much your involvement can also be a learning experience for you. You will also meet like minded people with whom you enjoy spending your time, while helping to achieve a common or community goal. This will never be wasted time. In fact, it becomes a win-win situation for those involved.
6. Adopt a proactive attitude.
Being proactive means being responsible for your actions and reactions. If we assess the cause and effect, we will be more apt to weigh options and make good decisions regarding our future. If we anticipate problems and seek solutions to avoid certain situations, we are adopting a proactive attitude. When we can take responsibility for our lives, we assume the task of ensuring that we chose wisely or with our best judgement, rather than leaving everything up to chance.
7. Appreciate what you have.
Sometimes we get caught up in our anxiety and pursuit of bigger and better things in life. We forget sometimes that the simple things in life are the often the best. Be thankful for what you have, whatever your situation. Do not take the people you love and those who love you for granted. Find something positive in each day to be thankful for.
8. Be mindful.
Being mindful means being present in the moment. How often do we become obsessed with worry or fear of something that has not yet happened. In doing this, we do not live the moment. Meditation is a form of exercising mindfulness. By thinking deeply and meditating, we can redirect the distractions, reflect on the more pressing things and focus on what is more important. It is said that mindfulness encourages creativity. Spending time in nature is the perfect way to reboot our thoughts. Learn to find happiness in the moment and being totally absorbed in living life in real time.
In closing, if I knew I had a short time left to live what would I want to do? I would want to keep living my same life for as long as I physically could. I have a long list of places all over the world I would love to visit. I know that I may or may not be able to do all these things in my lifetime. If the opportunity to do any of the things on my bucket list presents itself, I would happily check a few off the list. Should I be unable to do any of these things, I will not feel unfulfilled. I appreciate the life that I have and am thankful for all that I have accomplished. In fact, if I live the best life that I can everyday; being able to check off anything on my bucket list would be a bonus, but would not be the determining factor of whether I lived a happy or fulfilled life. At the end of the day, a far greater and more meaningful conclusion for me, would be to truly live the last days of my life with the ones that I love and with whom I have made a home and a life, and having them know that they were integral parts of my best life everyday.