There is a great chasm of difference between surviving and living a life. Many of us are waiting until we have all the things we want and then we’ll “be happy”, “take a break”, “spend time with the kids”, (insert your desired outcome here). Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting all the good things we are wanting in our lives. Those things give us something to strive for and the effort to achieve them keeps life interesting. The issue is, that while we are busy waiting and striving for those things we are not actually living, we are only surviving.
Surviving is when we don’t tune in to all the in between moments. Those are the moments that fill the gaps between the “wow” moments where everything comes together. We plod along, head down, nose to the grindstone, working and striving for those big moments. With our narrow focus, eye-on-the-prize mentality, we miss out on the day-to-day opportunities to be happy, take a break, and spend time with loved ones now. It all passes by mostly unnoticed.
Living, on the other hand, requires paying attention at least most of the time. When we live in the here and now, fully present, we get opportunities to experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. Many of the moments in life aren’t “wow” moments. In fact the large majority of them aren’t. The greater part of life is instead all the beautiful quiet, little moments. They include time with friends and family, the sun shining on our faces, a hug at just the right moment, the pleasant surprise of a favorite old song coming on the radio, an unexpected day with nothing to do and so many other things. Soak up all those little experiences along the way. It is all those moments that are a life. Then, every once in a while, the Universe peppers our already full lives with some real “wow” moments. The graduations, the new car, the dream vacation. You get the idea.
Sometimes we need a little help getting started on enjoying life moment by moment. I know that I did. This little project helped me a great deal. I hope it will help you too.
Find three pictures of yourself, all before the age of 8. We are looking for pictures of ourselves from before we entered the first grade. Generally speaking, before first grade is the time before we had to start achieving and being what other people thought we should be. It was the time in our lives where we had little or no responsibility. We were allowed to explore. We didn’t think too much about what others thought of us. We played. We were happy. The unhappy moments that we did experience did not last long. We truly felt all the emotions and everything was a new experience that we put our whole selves into.
You see, that beautiful, bright, fun-loving, open-to-adventure and experience being is still in us. They are at the core of us. We’ve just covered them up with a whole lot of stuff, expectations of others, and yes, goals. They are always within us waiting. Every once in a while, when no one’s looking, we let them out to play. Those are the moments when we laugh ’til tears run down our faces, do something creative, read a great book, dance like no one’s watching. Can you feel that beautiful “you” right now? They really know how to live! This is who we want to get back to being.
Once you find your three pictures you are going to put them in a frame. Have some fun picking out or making that frame. After all, this is all about you. When you’ve got it together it is time to put the frame in a place of honor where you can see it every day. Spend at least a minute or two each day remembering how it felt to be young, joyful and ready for adventure. It is time to return to that innocent, creative and bright place. It is time we got back to the place where we had every potential and our imaginations could come up with any possibility and live it. It is time to enjoy all the moments that make up a life. Welcome back to the land of the living! What an amazing ride this is going to be!
Here are my pictures. I keep them in my office where I sit and dream, create, breath and live. I check in with this little girl everyday and remember who I really am. She helps me to remember how to live life. Feel free to share your pictures in the comments. I would love to meet you too. Let’s cheer each other on as we enjoy all the moments of our lives!