“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who come alive.” -Harold Thurman Whitman
Have you ever asked yourself this question: What makes me come alive? What stirs my heart? My soul? My mind? If you are like I was up until about four years ago, I never asked myself these questions. I was under the impression that life was about going to work, working hard (or at least appearing to work hard), going home, watching TV, and going to bed only to get up and do it all over again the next day. For a while, life was all about surviving for the weekend when I could spend time with my wife and friends having fun. At least until the weekends became routine as well. Then I had vacations to look forward to, although they quickly became like the ones before. Now before you go thinking my life and my marriage was a total bore, ask yourself if you haven’t been in the same rut. I think you will find that we all have been there. Well, have I got good news for you (pardon the infomercial verbiage). It is possible to break free from this rut and take hold of life and all its pleasures.
Just like last week’s article, it starts with you. No one else can do this for you. What does make you come alive? Do you have a vision for the life you want? Or if this is too difficult of a question (in my experience as a therapist, for many people this question is too tough) do you have a vision for the life you don’t want? You can start there. List the things you don’t want in your life; jobs, places, tasks, beliefs, people, etc. If you will go through this process and honestly look at life, you will begin to create a life vision or mission.
About four years ago, I came to the realization that there was more to life than I was living. I could be more alive than I was. So I made the choice to change some things. And this change mainly involved my beliefs. I came to believe that there is more life to be lived. More pleasure to be had. More joy to be shared. More adventure to be experienced.
By focusing on the present, I began to enjoy life’s little moments. I began to worry less about what other people thought of me when I realized how seldom I thought about others and their appearance, status, relationships, and overall life. This freed me to focus more on myself. I recently came across a great saying which I have begun to adopt into my own life. I can practice more self care, but don’t be self-centered. It is alright to seek some of my own wants and desires, but I must not forget the fact that as much as I like to think the world revolves around me, it does not. A belief my wife and I are trying desperately to break our 2 year old from.
When I am freed to care for myself more, I can take charge of my life more effectively. This does however come at a price. If I hold too strongly to this mantra it may negatively impact the relationships I hold dear. This is where some balance has to come in, unless I don’t mind the possibility of being alone. Nothing in life worth having is easy. If you want a life that is more alive, or relationships that are more alive, there will be struggle. But the one thing life continues to teach is that the things we must struggle and fight for are worth more in the end.