Life is finite, but many live mindlessly convinced we own plenty of time to spare. Every moment lost is one you cannot get back. Although this is intuitive knowledge, very few possess the presence of mind to ensure they are living life to their fullest capacity. If you are tired of the way your life is going, then it is important during this life time out we are experiencing to do some self-reflecting.
What’s that you say? You don’t know how to do it? Well, before you dive into that next season of Game of Thrones, I have some suggestions on how to do this for yourself.
To begin a process of contemplation, one must begin with these four premises. They are self-explanatory.
1) Life happens in the present, so you don’t have a minute to waste.
2) The past was meant to be learned from, not to be re-lived in the present. Regrets are useless because you can’t go back and remake the past.
3) All your experiences and people in your life, whether you see them as good or bad, helped shape who you are today.
4) You are the only responsible for changing your current life to the one you want.
Areas to explore
With these four premises as your foundation, you are now ready to explore the areas in your life that need your review. The following are the ones I recommend.
1) Love relationships. Many grew up believing that ending a committed relationship is a failure. Much of this has to do with our religious teachings that marriage should last forever. But this is not reality, for people change over time. Couples always make hopeful commitments to one another at the beginning of a relationship, but they do so without knowing the issues that would affect their lives and change them as individuals.
However, if you can look at relationships as lessons to be learned, then you will become less judgmental when you realize the lesson is over.
Ask yourself these questions when reflecting on your relationship. Are you in a hopeless union where you just feel disdain and frustration with your partner, or they with you? Are your exchanges with one another loving and supportive, or are they angry and exasperating? Do you feel loved and supported to be who you want to be? Do you feel the same towards your partner? Is there trust you will be there for each other during the challenges in life to come? Is fear of being on your own the main reason you are staying in the relationship? When you project yourself into the future, does it seem better with or without your partner? Can you see a way to change the relationship for the better? What is stopping you from doing it? Add here other questions you judge to be relevant.
Ending a dead relationship is not a failure. Staying in one is. Your answer will inform you on the kind of relationship you are in so you can decide what action to take.
2) Friends and family. Having other relationships besides a love partnership is an important part of a joyful life, but not if you surrounded yourself with people who are not life-giving. No better time than now to take stock of the people you hang around with. List their names on a piece of paper and ask these questions about each one of them. Is this person supportive of you, or is he/she hyper critical and bring you down? Do you trust this person to have your back? Is he/she trying to make you into someone you are not? if you didn’t initiate contact, would you hear from them? Is the person negative and talks bad about others behind their backs? Do you feel joyful and uplifted when you are around them? Include family members on this list, including mother, father, sister, brother and kids. Add your own questions.
Once you make this list and understand who the supportive and toxic people are in your life, you can determine those you want to invest time with and those you don’t. Remember, you are running out of time, so choose wisely.
3) Career. Life purpose. You spend a lot of time working for a living, so it is important to reflect on this major aspect of life. Just like relationships, each job you hold is a lesson on the way to finding your purpose. Growing disinterested in a job you enjoyed once but no longer find interesting is not a failure, it just means the lesson is over. There are different lessons and purposes for different times in your life.
Here are some questions to reflect on. Are you motivated, stimulated and passionate about what you do? Are you eager to get up in the morning to join your organizational collective in a grand mission? Are you committed to the mission you are working on? If you could be guaranteed complete success in whatever you chose, what would you be doing today? Is it different from what you are doing? What keeps you from pursuing what you want? Do you believe you are working to create a greater good? Is doing what you joyful and fun? If you don’t like what you are doing, what is keeping you there?
I learned throughout life that being bored and unmotivated in what you do is a heavy burden to carry. It kills the soul. This is why it is good to check in and focus on how you are feeling about what you do.
4) How you spend your time. While it is natural that all of us spend some mindless time binge watching a TV series or playing solitaire on our I-phones, you are not living much of a life if all you do is waste time. Admittedly, we cannot get around doing things we don’t enjoy but are necessary, like grocery shopping. But, have you stopped to add up the time you are you doing things you don’t like that aren’t necessary? That time is now.
Ask yourself the following; Do you fear your life is out of control? Are you always running from one activity to another? Are you often late? What time are you spending chasing after your dreams, like getting that degree you desire or learning to play the musical instrument you have been wanting to do since you were a teenager? Have you given up chasing your passions because you are “too busy”? What activities would you eliminate from your daily routine? What undertaking would you pursue if “you had the time”? Where do you think you waste time?
Frittering our time away is a bad habit and the only way you can change it is to examine what you spend time on so you can weed out the nonconstructive things. Wasting time is what keeps you from chasing your passion. You are the only one keeping yourself from fulfilling your dreams. This means you have to identify and let go of the things you do that have little or no value.
5) Becoming the best you can be. I contend that one cannot become a better person if you are not consciously doing things to strengthen your mind/body/spirit connection. There are so many questions I can come up with in this subject matter, but I will limit them to three areas; health, intellectual stimulation and spiritual development.
- Health. Having a healthy body is a big part of living and aging well. This does not mean you have to strive to be a professional athlete or a marathon runner, but it means you have to take care of the condition of your body. We are all different body types, so this isn’t one size fits all, but there are some common measures to help us stay fit and to avoid being unhealthy. Here are some questions to ponder. Do you take time to exercise regularly? Are you eating healthily and in moderate amounts? Do you rest an appropriate amount of time? How much do you rely on drugs and alcohol to make you feel good? Is there a time of the day when exercising would be easier to do? What is keeping you from having a healthier routine?
- Intellectual stimulation. There is an all loving, learning, evolving, and creative Higher Power that is part of all things. He/she created us in his/her image and likeness, so growing, learning, evolving and creating is part of our heritage. This section is about mind food, so what are you doing to feed your mind? For example, do you take time to read authors who challenge your way of thinking? What are the things you do to challenge yourself out of your comfort zone? What new things have you started recently? Are you challenging yourself to learn new things?
- Spiritual Development. Many people scoff at spiritual development because they don’t understand what it is. Others confuse spirituality interchangeably with religion, but these things are not necessarily related. Others believe spirituality is bunk and strive to accumulate wealth, status and power. I certainly lived that way for a long time, but now I know better. Spiritual development refers to the effort one makes to connect to that Highest Source that lives in every one of us. If you ever had any doubt about a Higher Power, then the coronavirus is proving you wrong. The greatest lesson the contagion is teaching us is that something greater than us, our governments, our wealth and privilege is in charge. Reconnecting with this inner source doesn’t just happen, you must make a concerted effort by adopting a daily spiritual practice. This leads to only one question, do you have one? There are many ways to calm your mind and open the door to increased mindfulness, you just have to find one that works for you. I meditate using the TM method, but there are many forms of meditation. Others do yoga or take time to read inspirational messages during certain periods of the day. Try some of these methods and see what works.
This coronavirus is giving you a chance to set a new direction in your life.
No one can tell you what to do with your answers to these questions because you have no way of knowing if they are projecting their own values into their advice. When you expose your reality in these areas with your answers, you will know what you need to do. Whether you do it is up to you.
Remind yourself daily that you are a force to be reckoned with. When you set what you want in motion, no one can stop you without your permission. I assure you that making the changes you conclude are necessary will help you feel reborn and your spirit will rise with new energy and enthusiasm for life.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with a great amount of joy and contentment.