Seize the Day, Live Life to the Fullest, Be Here Now, You Only Have One Life, we’ve heard them all, right? We hear this and go, “Right! I should definitely be more appreciative/present/aware”. But how many of us actually live this way? For how many of us does this last for more than 5 minutes? Mostly we take life for granted, and get mired in the little annoying things that bring us down. Or at least I do. But there’s nothing like a swift kick in the face from a rare blood cancer diagnosis to bring everything into perspective (What? You didn’t know about the cancer? Read this).
This is not to say that a switch got flipped and now I’m all zen and living in the moment. I am still pulled by all the little things. But they’re different now. They’re easier to let go of. It’s easier to find the compassion for the other person and understand why they would say that or do that. The little annoyances just don’t matter. They just don’t matter! If there is one thing that I’d like you to get deep in your bones is that all of that little petty annoying hurtful stuff just doesn’t matter. The guy who is texting when the light turns green and doesn’t go. The woman who is driving 15 miles an hour when you’re in a hurry and you’re going to miss the green light. The honking impatient guy behind you (why are all my examples driving references?) The friend’s weird back-handed compliment. The disdainful cooler-than-thou attitude from the barista. None of it matters.
What matters is Love. The soul sister to the Be Here Now cliché: Love is All You Need. And we hear it all the time and know it but don’t really live it. What if you did? What if you told everyone how much you love them? What if you opened up your heart so wide that you could even express love for the person who just flipped you off as they sped past you? “Thanks! Love you!” Opening up and telling people how much you love them can be a scary thing–the ultimate vulnerability. It’s scary because they may not love you back or they may even be hurtful. But this is another one of those things that doesn’t matter. Because you and I expressing our love is all that matters.
So how do we keep these two related mind-sets present and not filed away in the “should” drawer? Well, since I wouldn’t wish my way of getting a life-threatening diagnosis on anyone, here are some thoughts for the average health minded person:
1. Breathe. I have found that if I take a breath when people annoy me, I am able to get recentered and present to what is important.
2. Find your passion and make a difference. It’s easier to live life to the fullest if we feel that what we are doing is making a difference in the world. Even if your career isn’t your life’s passion right now, consider volunteering at an organization that you care about.
3. Open up. We often have walls built up around us to protect ourselves from getting hurt. Practice letting those barriers down and letting people in. Forgiveness is another area I’ve been focusing on lately (which deserves it’s own blog post). Look at who you can forgive from your past to allow your heart to open more to the people in your present.
4. Let it go. This is easier if you breathe. Visualize that hurt from your past or in my case that fear of the future, and let it go. Worry doesn’t do any good and neither does hanging on to resentments.
5. Live out loud. Tell people you love them. Take a moment to acknowledge the contributions people make in your life. We tend to let the nice things go unacknowledged and talk to people about the things that didn’t go right. Consider doing the opposite. What would that be like?
Let me know in the comments below what has shown up in your life by taking on these practices.