“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” — The 14th Dalai Lama
I wish to draw your attention to the line from the Dalai Lama’s opening quote: “…he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
What does it mean to live life to the fullest?
What does life look like at this level?
I wish to offer my account to these questions in the coming paragraphs, while introducing four principles to connect with this ideal.
Upon first impressions, living life to the fullest invokes sentiments of travelling the world, while bathing in the beauty of life, experiencing deep and meaningful relationships, financial success and sustained health & wellbeing. Well at least that’s the image summoned up in my mind.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned, how do you know if you are living your life to the fullest?
Is there a measure of progress which defines our trajectory?
Moreover, if I were to survey a hundred people, I’m certain there would be varied opinions on what constitutes a deep and meaningful life.
For that reason, it might be considered inconsequential how you live your life in light of other people’s definitions. A family friend often reminds me: “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
In keeping with this tenet, let’s examine the four principles I believe form the foundation for living a rich and rewarding life.
1. Honour Yourself
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” — Helen Keller, The Open Door
Echoed in the quote by author Neil Gaiman: “…wherever you go, you take yourself with you…” raises our awareness that running away from our problems is not sustainable, since our problems are bound to catch up with us in the end.
Your relationship to others is governed by your level of self respect. Why? Consider for a moment a person’s interaction with others in light of a contracted self-worth.
Their view of reality is defined by a distorted sense of self, represented by the unconscious belief: “I don’t respect myself; I don’t expect anyone to respect me and I will not respect others as a result.”
As you honour yourself, you accept people for who they are instead of whom you’d like them to be.
Honouring yourself entails complete acceptance of your insecurities, weaknesses and fears. It means complete recognition of your wholeness, despite the mental façade which instructs you otherwise.
Here’s an insight: no one is perfect, even the Dalai Lama is prone to moments of anger. And yet he does not define himself as an angry person, since this is merely a fleeting emotion.
If we allow an angry state to consume us, we eventually lose sight of our completeness. Honour your deepest nature which is vested in pure awareness, by refusing to define yourself via disempowering emotional states.
2. Live A Healthy Life
“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” ― Ernest Hemingway
How will you recognise happiness when you are angry, irritable or sad? The mind will express any physical limitations held in the body and vice versa. This serves as your anchor point, alternatively known as subjective reality.
Have you noticed how some people lament how sick and unwell they are? They strongly identify with their illness as a badge of honour, seeking constant sympathy to validate their suffering.
We are all prone to physical breakdowns eventually, since we inhabit a human form which is subject to ageing. However, that does not necessitate accelerating the ageing process by focusing on your ailments. Let go of your need to identify with your complaints. This is not who you are.
It is your obligation to tend to your physical body in a dutiful manner. Nurture it daily. Don’t treat your body as you would a machine — that is neglect it, feed it poor nutrients and expect it to serve you like a master. You deserve better than that. Be kind to yourself by allowing the goodness of life to flow through you.
3. Face Your Fears
“Its important to have specific dreams. Dream Big. Dream without fear.” — Randy Pausch
When you are consumed by fear, you remain captive to the emotion. Fear impedes your success and potential. It inhibits your growth as an individual. It is wired into man’s DNA to thrive and prosper.
Remaining a prisoner to toxic emotions serves no place in your life other than to keep you trapped. I call this state, remaining Parked in my book: The Power to Navigate Life. The metaphysical relationship of being stagnant and stuck in comparison to Navigating Life.
Despite people’s beliefs, the opposite of fear is not courage — it is love. Love is the highest functioning order within the universe. Therefore, fear becomes an illusion which is overcome with a loving and compassionate heart.
Face your fears by starting small. You don’t have to go up against it like a Samurai waging battle. Begin by overcoming smaller, less frightening fears until you find the courage to advance to bigger ones. Your reward is a life enriched with passion and purpose.
4. Learn From Your Mistakes
“Don’t try to understand life. Live it! Don’t try to understand love. Move into love. Then you will know — and all that knowing will come out of your experiencing. The more you know, the more you know that much remains to be known.” ― Osho
Learning from your mistakes involves drawing valuable lessons from your experiences. You attract that which expands your personal evolution.
The following quote from Andrew Matthew’s book Follow Your Heart: Finding Purpose In Your Life and Work is a testament to our willingness to learn and prosper from our experiences: “We are each a cause. Our thoughts attract and create circumstances. As we change, we attract different circumstances. Until we learn a lesson, we either stay stuck on the same lesson, or keep getting the same lesson in different packages.”
In a similar vein, Tony Robbins invites us to reframe ‘failure’ as an undesired outcome rather than dwell on our misfortunes. As you embrace this way of thinking, you transcend your limitations by viewing them from a higher perspective.
As you embrace the lessons, success is bound to greet you on the next occasion.
Invariably, it may require numerous attempts to achieve success but that is irrelevant, since the thrill of the experience far outweighs the pain of regret.