How Could I Live My Life Fully?
It’s strange enough, how at the end of life, people seem to come to some sort of exceptional clarity about how they have lived their life.
At the closure, it is said, it becomes much clearer to us what are our contentments and regrets from life. But at this point, at the very end of life, there is no press button to take us back and change things. There is only time to accept things.
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse with years of experience working in palliative care, and who has worked with patients in their last weeks of life, has been able to record the “dying epiphanies” of her patients. Ware has put her findings and observations in a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. They go as follows:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Which more or less sets the parameters of answering the question: How could I live my Life fully?
Happiness is not about being more selfish or more pleasure-seeking whatsoever. Living your life fully is about finding the balance between the different elements that make life happier, both in relation with yourself and with others.
Choose a life you’ll be satisfied with
The fifth of the 5pulses is essentially about helping you overcome your fears and become a more courageous “version” of yourself. It all comes down to maintaining happiness throughout life, through fulfilling your dreams and life aspirations.
Very often people find themselves in situations where they compromise their life goals and dreams in order to be at good with others. For example, very often, children compromise with parents about their education.
Someone who has truly wanted to become a great artist went on to be an average accountant, just because in the moment of making decisions, studying economics was the more sound judgment, based on which of the two professions is potentially the more lucrative one.
Some people will find the courage to change their profession and do what they have always wanted to do in life at a later point, but plenty others realize what a grave mistake they have made only when it’s too late.
Set your goals. Make a plan. Let one of them be that you do not have any regrets at the end of life. It takes a great deal of courage, standing up for what you want, and making decisions truly from the heart to live the life you are fully satisfied with.
Life indeed is not only about work
There are days, when yes, life is all about work. When you need to be 100% dedicated to your job assignments, when the very business depends on your input, meeting the deadlines and bringing your work-related worries with you at the dinner table at home where you would rather be wholly present with family. While this is OK from times to times, do not make a habit out of it.
There is no satisfaction in life if we are being all about work work work all of the time. And there is no true happiness without the fun part. There are several ways how to balance the work and fun part, but first, you need to distinguish the two. We work in order that we are provided with food, clothes and a house to live in. We also work so we can go on that 1-month trip around Europe, enable education for our children if we are also parents, or build that swimming pool in the yard where we can do weekly gatherings with friends and family when in summer.
Some people will choose to work hard throughout their entire life in order to reward themselves later, when in retirement. Others will opt for career choices in which they work really hard for half the year round in order to enjoy in every way possible throughout the rest of the months. Neither is wrong if the work is done with fun and in harmony with other aspects of life.
The harmony between work and the other aspects of life will manifest itself only if you allow the time to explore new things about yourself. Be an explorer. Travel and be charmed by new people and cultures. Enjoy good fiction. Great novels and movies are always a good source to obtain new ideas from. Play a game of poker to remember that winning is important for you. Winning both inside the office and outside the office.
It’s funny how people fail to grasp success once they eradicate fun from what they are doing at work and in life.
Feeling loved in your life is essential
No person on this planet is stripped of the capacity to feel and give love. It’s a universal feeling to which no strict definitions apply about what exactly love should represent. Love can be found in the tenderness we feel toward our partner or the sisterly/brotherly affection we may have for our siblings and best friends. Love is also the affection and attachment we have for our cat at home or the project we gladly accepted back in the office.
We also say that love is such a strong feeling that it has the power to move rivers and mountains. In case you still wonder why love is fundamental for our lives, it’s because love nourishes our entire spectrum of emotions. As humans, we are emotional beings and we all crave for little love and affection.
Beyond our capacity to give and feel love, love is why we found families, have children, stay in touch with friends and run communities.
Couples do forget about their basic needs (proper dinner or sleep) when they become parents. They forget not because they want to but because they are drowned in the ecstasy of their out-of-love creation, the new life they have brought on this planet. It’s in those instances when we acknowledge that impossible is just a word.
Shift your focus now towards those relationships that are truly important to you, regardless of the time and effort they may demand. Cultivate feelings of compassion for those who seem to be rejecting you, and feelings of gratitude for those who remain present in your life. It’s only through goodwill that we can resolve any negative sentiments when it comes down to our most important relationships.
Lastly, to be loved, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. It’s when we share our deepest fears and weaknesses with those few persons that matter the world to us, that we create the strong bonds of empathy, compassion and love.
Take everything in the right dosage
We must understand happiness as both an outward and inward sensation, that we can leverage it in order to live a truly happier life. It’s a science of how we find passion in our day to day business, escaping the dull life of validation, and finally, also escaping any big, overwhelming regrets at the end of life.
While everyone individually answers what is their definition of happy and satisfying life, there are few misconceptions to avoid.
First, there are the statements that we should feel happy and satisfied at any given moment in life, that happiness means fulfilling all our wishes instantaneously, or that we should feel pleasure all of the time. However, that’s not what measures up to genuine happiness.
At the heart of living a satisfied, fulfilled and happy life is moderation, to take everything in the right dosages. Imagine you are in the Lab that represents your Life, and each essential ingredient of life is in there–your family and friends, your job, your hobby, your traveling time or the gin and tonic at the corner bar of the room. As the chief scientist of this lab, it’s your duty to make sure each ingredient is consumed in equilibrium, during your life-long mission to maintain happiness in your life.
Settling the negative emotions, such as pain, sadness, grief or anger, are part of this life-long mission. Sooner or later, all of us experience these emotions: huge anger when our business goes bankrupt or tremendous grief after the loss of a loved one. These emotions cannot be neglected. They cannot be buried deep inside. We cannot know joy without sadness. We cannot know love without a little hatred. We can thrive only if we get to experience the entire variety of emotions.
Some people also perceive life happiness as one-dimensional, e.g. that living a satisfying life means seeking pleasure all of the time. In reality, this can only ever be harmful. A glass of gin and tonic might soothe us well once in a while, but we are all aware what are the consequences if we devote ourselves to excessive drinking, just because that gives us some sense of happiness. Becoming less and less sober we’ll end up having too many unproductive hours during the week. Drinking excessively, in the long run, may increase our chances of liver disease. Excess of positive emotions can indeed be as harmful as the excess of negative emotions.
Happiness is not all about us – it’s also about others
Happiness is both transient/about enjoying the moment (e.g. the sun on your skin, listening to a new favorite song, having drinks with your best friend) and lasting/about being satisfied with where you stand in life right now (e.g. “I have the job that I always wanted,” “My health is good – I have not fallen sick in two years,” or “I saved a lot of money this year.”)
More than that, happiness is also about giving to others (“For my mom’s birthday I bought pizza and we listened to some ABBA music which is her favorite,” “I helped my best friend with her book promotion although I wanted a weekend off – she really needed help.”)
Or in the words of Chourouq Haisni from Morocco, and Challenge: Future Summit alumna the answer also lies in kindness. Here’s what she says: “The level of pressure that we are surrounded with makes us destructed and unfocused. Our lives become a time frame for our goals and we forget the little things, the important things. It is my belief that small things in life are the true reason behind happiness. Simple gestures that you make as small and trivial as they may seem might just make someone’s day a little better.”
She goes on: “Kindness is not necessarily to feed the poor and hungry. It also means to be kind in your dealings with others because whether you know it or not the way you behave around people affects them. Life is not only about you, but it is also about the people you encounter, and although you might not remember them, they will remember you as the nice person they’ve met one day. So make an effort…Look people in the eyes and wish them a nice day, say thank you more, make something for breakfast and and take it to the office or to school and share, do make conversations with strangers, give a hug to a friend in need, keep candy in your pocket for that crying child in the street, and remember… whatever you do, do it with a smile.”
Yet, if you overdo any of these…the chances are you will gravitate away from happiness. Someone might begin to abuse your kindness. Or the sun will easily burn your skin if you stay for too long.