Five Questions for Living Each Day to the FullestBy
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon
This past weekend I spent time with a friend’s widow. It caused me to reflect on his life and my own.
Bob and I grew up together and swam competitively in high school. He was the only one of our group who could still fit in his Speedo forty years later. He retired in his early 50s and built a beautiful mountain home at Huntington Lake. After that he lived there most of the year, exercised daily, ate well and breathed clean mountain air.
Yet, three years ago he came down with a rare form of cancer. He went through treatments and beat it into remission. Then a year ago it came back with a vengeance and in four months he was gone.
While at Huntington last weekend, sailing with friends, I thought a lot about Bob.
He made a gazillion dollars in the high tech world in several start up ventures then sold out and retired shortly before the tech meltdown in 2000. But then he always was smarter than me and had perfect timing. He had worked and traveled nearly non-stop during his career because of the highly competitive nature of the businesses he was involved in.
When he retired he became a master scuba diver and traveled the world diving. At Huntington he skied, hiked, biked and worked diligently as a volunteer fire fighter and paramedic. He packed a lot into his 60 years.
It caused me to stop and ponder my own life.
We all think we’ll live to be 90 and have plenty of time to do all we want to. Though 90 seems a lot closer than it used to. Yet we all know there’s no guarantee. This thought, far from being morbid, caused me again to ask, “Am I living each day to the fullest. If I live to be 100 or I’m gone tomorrow did I accomplished what I was put here to do? Did my life really make a difference?”
I love the quote from John Lennon. It’s so easy to have plans for the future, which is good, but allow them to crowd out really living today, which isn’t. Or it can be easy to just focus on living today so that we never accomplish much because we never planned for tomorrow.
Life can get out of balance and I would guess most of us feel that way at times. For me it’s far more often than I’d like to admit. It seems either we’re always working or not getting ahead. Sometimes we feel like we don’t even know our spouse or friends. Or we feel like everyone else has it so much more together than we do.
What can we do to live at the fullest each day?
A favorite prayer in the Bible says, “Lord, teach us to number our days correctly so that we might have a heart of wisdom.”
To me this is a great reminder that I have only so many days and I need to approach each one as a gift from God. I don’t have time to squander any. I want to live each to the fullest.
How does this play out? What does it look like?
Asking myself some questions helps me keep perspective.
First, have I told the ones I love that I love them? Honestly, I struggle here. Not because I don’t love them but sometimes I just don’t say it. But think how you feel when someone tells you, “I love you.” Three magical words.
Second, have I spent time talking today with the ones I love? I realize sometimes we’re away from our loved ones but with email and cell phones it’s rare we can’t converse. And when we are with them do we talk or are we wrapped up in other activities? This is the best stuff of life. I want to make sure I don’t waste it.
Third, did I do something productive today? Did I help make the world a better place? Am I doing meaningful work that uses my gifts and abilities? Am I adding to the collective abundance of the world or siphoning it off? This brings meaning and satisfaction.
Fourth, did I help someone who can’t repay it? I’m not talking about just giving out change to the corner beggar but really getting involved helping others who are less fortunate. Sometimes it might mean helping the corner beggar or sometimes getting involved in an organization that truly makes a difference. This brings a sense of fulfillment nothing else can.
Finally, was I grateful today? Did I thank God for all the blessings I already have? Since you’re reading this I’m guessing we both have a computer and live in a free society. We have the gift of sight and enough free time to browse the internet. I need to thank God for all I have. This brings me joy and a sense of peace every day. And when my focus is on all our blessings it helps unleash the answers to the first four questions.
Do I fulfill all of these questions everyday? Hardly. But asking helps me stay focused on what’s really important.
What questions do you ask yourself to live each day to the fullest? What helps you live in love, joy, peace and meaning?
See if asking yourself these five questions helps. Let me know what you discover.
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