How to Really Live
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences will have resonances with our own innermost being, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. — Joseph Campbell
Note: This post is the first in a series. Each day will feature one observation about and a suggestion for how to really live your life, how to engage yourself fully in the act of being alive.
What’s it all about, this life we live? Do you ever slow down long enough to wonder about the meaning of life? Maybe you are too busy living–earning a living, running taxi for children or grandchildren, or caring for aging parents, trying to keep your head above the waters of financial ruin–to even care about deeper meaning.
The first step to really living your life is to quit kidding yourself about how much life you have left to live. The only moment each one of us is promised is the present one. You may live to be a hundred or you may die tomorrow, but the only moment in which you are truly alive is this one–right here, right now.
Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath, inhaling through your nose. Hold it lightly for a short interval. Now breath out gently but fully through your nose, emptying your lungs deeply from your gut upward. While you are enjoying this solitary breath, give thanks for it and for your precious gift of life.
What a miracle you are! That single breath you just honored is one of some 17,000 that you will take in one 24-hour period. Your heart will beat, without any help from you, more than 100,000 times each day. You make thousands of decisions each day, both great and small, conscious and unconscious. You are an amazing creation, one that the Creator of the Cosmos called very, very good.
The first step to really living your life is make a conscious choice to live more fully in the present moment. Yes, some things must be planned and arranged and done, but if you find yourself always looking backward at the way things were or planning for a future over which you have no control–just stop.
Take another one of those single, thankful breaths and come back to the present moment.
- Love the people you love. I mean really love them and tell them so. Spend time with them if you can.
- Do something fun or silly. Celebrate and laugh every single day. Laughter is good medicine and will cure a host of maladies.
- Leave your work behind (at least for a little while)
- Be active. Take a walk, ride your bike, dance, swim, hike, or do yoga.
- Eat well and mindfully. Sit down at the table. Light a candle.
Whenever cares and worries threaten to carry you away into moments past or futures unknown, will yourself back to the present moment and day. Live it well. It is gift, pure gift.
Remember the words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel:
So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (6:34)
Whatever your situation, remember that life is fleeting in the grand scheme of the universe. We’re only on this earth for a short time. No trouble, worry, or distraction is worth depriving you or others of the privilege of living right now.
Blessings on your precious life here and now!
Enjoy this You-Tube version of Burt Bacharach’s song “Alfie” sung by the incomparable Rumer.
Photo by OutdoorLori. Thanks!