Mindful & Meaningful Living
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
What does it mean to live life fully? It probably means something different to everyone because we are all unique but there are a few things that everyone has in common when they think of living a full life:
- to experience as much as possible,
- to follow our hearts,
- to love and be loved,
- to have a positive impact on others,
- to have some meaning or significance to our lives,
- to leave some kind of legacy,
- to live without regrets that we failed or neglected to do everything we deeply wanted to do.
There is no ultimate formula for living life fully; it is perhaps our own unique expression of the list above that matters most. In order to have a full life then, you must know what fills you up, what fills your heart and gives meaning to your days.
I say this without judgment and cynicism – most people do not live life to the fullest. They do what they think they need to do each day, entrenched in routine, pretty much living life on autopilot. Once in a while something touches them or wakes them up from the monotony and they feel life fully, for a moment. Perhaps it was a book they read or a movie they saw or an awakening moment in their own lives that jarred them out of autopilot into full presence.
Those awakening moments are very often the saddest ones – the death of a loved one, learning a friend (or oneself) has cancer, even losing a long held job. It is in those moments or times in life that people realize how short life really is and what is most important to them and they pledge to live life differently. Life seems to slow down for a while, which makes the experience seem richer, fuller, more vivid and real. Sometimes it sticks, but very often within a few weeks or months, it’s back to routine and monotony for most. That’s because the internal resistance to breaking the habit of being in the routine is so strong. There is another reason, the deep fear that whatever one truly wants, how one wants to express oneself, will be judged and ridiculed and deemed insignificant. So back to work, taking care of the kids and keeping up with the Jones’s it is.
Sad moments are a part of life but they’re not the only way we can awaken to our deepest expression of living a full life. Self awareness, consciousness, mindfulness – three terms that all mean pretty much the same thing – slow down, get out of the routine (wake up), know yourself and be tue to yourself! We can only live life fully if we are aware of what fills us up and conscious or mindful enough to live each day like it is the only day we have.
To take it a step further – all we have is the present moment. The present is the only time we actually have to fully experience anything real, everything else is just a thought, a dream, an illusion. So if that’s true – then all we have to do to live a full life, is be present and mindful so we can allow ourselves the gift of experiencing every moment as fully as possible.
What will you do with the moments you have? How will you give them meaning? How will you uniquely express yourself? What does your heart or soul or inner spirit whisper to you in the wee hours of the night? Most people don’t know and that’s because they’re afraid it’s not important enough or good enough in the eyes of those they think are judging them. In the final hour, you are the only judge and it’s not their life your living, it’s yours.
For a moment stop being afraid of what others think, in fact don’t think at all, just listen to your heart, and then follow it. Do this at least once a day and the internal resistance to mindful living will gradually diminish until eventually it will pale in comparison to the immense power and gratification that comes from fully living your life.
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”