“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever; you just have to live.” – Natalie Babbitt

Are you living your life or just living this life that happens to you? How can you tell? What can you do to make sure you are living your life?

  1. Slow down.  Everyone is in such a rush to reach their destination but if you are traveling across the country, would you rather drive on highways the whole time, or pass through the countryside to scan the beautiful land and meet some people on the way? Yes life is busy. Yes we all have a long to-do list that seems to never be completed. Crossing off one thing only means adding another, right? So why not take the time to smell the roses if the to-do list will always be there? Enjoy the small, sweet moments. You don’t have to wait for huge life monuments or peak moments to feel alive. We are always alive! Slow down and enjoy it.
  2. Learn to talk about death. We tend to live as if we’ll never die and then avoid the talk of death as if, if we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen. It’s definitely emotionally taxing to think about. However, it can be worse when it creeps up on you. Talking about it can make it easier on those who are still around when you’re not. It can actually ease their pain.
  3. Embrace uncertainty. Humans have an intrinsic desire to feel a sense of control in our lives. However, from experience, the most amazing thing about uncertainty is when you are completely blindsided by joy. Depriving ourselves of uncertainty also deprives ourselves from wonderful unexpected possibilities. It’s true that unexpected pain happens also. However, it’s from that pain that we learn and grow the most. If you think of it on a grand scale, embracing the uncertainty that we will die one day allows us to live in the moment right now. How can one do this? Start by looking for joy in unexpected places. When you’re discouraged, keep your eye out for it because it’s there somewhere. Then recall the times you were surprised by joy. And how amazing were those times??
  4. Live with purpose and meaning. Do you do what you do for yourself or for others? Do YOU find meaning in what you do? Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, recorded the top five regrets of the dying. The top of that list was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” If you’re struggling to create meaning in your life, think about who you want to be. Who do you want to be as in what do you want to DO? Your being will follow you wherever you are doing.
  5. Be generous with your love. At funerals, most people talk about how much a person affected them. Why can’t we tell them when they are alive? Don’t forget to tell the people in your life that you love them. Small acts of kindness can go a long way and also express love without actually saying it.

Try not to fall asleep at the wheel on that freeway. Roll down the windows and even pull over. Be present to your gift of life. Be courageous by staying true to yourself. And be grateful for all the beauty surrounding you.