Lisa Edwards – Stop Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop and Start Living Fully – 4-1-17
Posts Tagged ‘Living’
“Use your precious moments to live life fully every single second of every single day.” ~Marcia Wieder
I recently came back from an amazing vacation overseas with my family. All of our travel went smoothly, everyone stayed healthy, and there wasn’t any drama or conflict among family members. Other than one flight being delayed, it was perfect.
On the way home from the trip my heart and soul were soaring from the fun we had enjoyed, savoring the memories in my mind and feeling grateful. I noticed, though, that when I returned home my mind slowly started to shift. Not because of the usual dread of coming back from vacation, but rather because things actually continued to go well at home.
My adjustment to my jet lag was fine, and the first day back at work was actually nice. By all measures I should have continued to feel pretty happy! Instead, I began to anticipate that something bad would happen.
I could hear the voice in my head reminding me that I had just enjoyed ten days of vacation, so surely it was time for something negative to take place—a cold, stress at work, something.
It was almost as if I was inviting something bad into my life to temper the positivity I was feeling in the moment.
Some people describe this is as “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” and in my family we called it “Catholic guilt.”
As I’ve grown older, I’ve done this a little too often, in several different areas of life.
If my kids have been healthy for a good stretch, I start to have sneaky thoughts about how they’re “due soon” for a bout of some type of illness.
If my finances are under control, I’ll wonder if we’ll have an unexpected repair that will take us off course.
It’s not a concern if those thoughts float in and out, but I seem to have problems when they linger and begin to detract from what I am doing in the present.
The truth is that life does change constantly, and there are ebbs and flows between happiness and pain.
In one instant our situations can shift so drastically that we will be left reeling, so expecting that every day will be wonderful is obviously both unrealistic and unhelpful. Yet I’ve found that anxiously awaiting some sort of tragedy or pain often diminishes my current happiness.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop is this tricky way that we rob ourselves of a good feeling in the now because we are nervously anticipating something negative in the future.
A balance between fear about the future and a naive optimism is possible; we could call this space living fully.
Living fully is where we acknowledge that life will bring suffering and beauty, pain and happiness, challenge and comfort, and it will all come at different times. If we live fully, we do our best to float gracefully between these times, aiming not to get “stuck” in a space of overwhelming tension.
This is not an easy task, but below are some suggestions for those who want to decide not to wait in constant fear of that other shoe dropping.
Tips for Living Fully
1. Find time to be present.
The beauty of being present is that, by definition, it doesn’t allow you to be anywhere else. When you find time to be in the moment, anticipatory thoughts about bad things happening may enter your mind, but you will gently and swiftly guide them to the side.
Each of us has our unique ways of being present, whether it be a yoga class or exercise, quiet observation of nature, or meditation. Even a few minutes of quiet can be helpful in getting centered and focused.
2. Try savoring.
Just like you might enjoy a good glass of wine or a bite of cheesecake, you can also savor positive emotions or events.
For example, I could recall the vacation I took overseas, reliving a particularly fun outing or adventure. I could talk about the trip with my family and coworkers, and look at pictures. As I do that I would begin to bring back those memories, and those positive emotions associated with these memories would also come back.
3. Introduce some logic to your thoughts.
Sometimes our thoughts can run away from us, going down a path that we know isn’t logical or helpful.
In the case of anticipating something negative, I’ve found that I can best stop the thoughts with this simple reasoning: “Yes, it is inevitable that something bad will happen at some point, but I don’t know when or where. So, I might as well enjoy what I’m feeling now so later I won’t regret not having enjoyed that time when things were going well.”
4. Practice gratitude.
Being aware of what we have in our lives orients us to the present. We can always find something or someone to appreciate, and in showing this appreciation we gain an increased awareness of its beauty.
Expressing gratitude can be private (e.g., keeping a gratitude journal or list) or public (e.g., writing a letter of thanks to someone), but I’m preferential to personal reminders of gratitude.
For example, when I am feeling the joy of doing something I love or spending time with friends and family, I try to remember to say to myself: “this moment is good.” Just saying that brings me to the present and acknowledges my gratitude in the moment.
5. Spend time with people who also like to live fully.
It’s no mystery that emotions can be contagious. Friends or loved ones who are perpetually negative can influence our mindset, particularly if we find ourselves feeling anxious or dreading something negative happening.
While we shouldn’t avoid or shun friends who are struggling, we can be purposeful about finding time to spend with those who give us a burst of positive energy through their ability to live fully.
Our lives are in flux, and change is inevitable. By not constantly waiting for the bad stuff to happen, and instead focusing on the now, we can flow more easily, joyfully, and fully through our days.
The average life span in the US is somewhere in the vicinity of 70 years old (with women living slightly longer than men. It may not be long, but it’s long enough to make many of us forget how precious each moment is – and how important it is to make the most of each one.
For that reason, we’re reposting a reddit thread written by a 24 year old man dying of terminal cancer. His face and name are unknown, but his heart and wisdom are clear. He called this thread, “my last tie” and the photo below is the actual image he attached to the post:
I am only 24 years old, yet I have actually already chosen my last tie. It’s the one that I will wear on my funeral a few months from now. It may not match my suit, but I think it’s perfect for the occasion.
The cancer diagnosis came too late to give me at least a tenuous hope for a long life, but I realized that the most important thing about death is to ensure that you leave this world a little better than it was before you existed with your contributions . The way I’ve lived my life so far, my existence or more precisely the loss of it, will not matter because I have lived without doing anything impactful.
Before, there were so many things that occupied my mind. When I learned how much time I had left, however, it became clear which things are really important. So, I am writing to you for a selfish reason. I want to give meaning to my life by sharing with you what I have realized:
DO WORK YOU LOVE
Don’t waste your time on work that you don’t enjoy. It is obvious that you cannot succeed in something that you don’t like. Patience, passion, and dedication come easily only when you love what you do.
DON’T LET OTHER’S OPINIONS STOP YOU FROM BEING YOU
It’s stupid to be afraid of others’ opinions. Fear weakens and paralyzes you. If you let it, it can grow worse and worse every day until there is nothing left of you, but a shell of yourself. Listen to your inner voice and go with it. Some people may call you crazy, but some may even think you‘re a legend.
MAKE BOLD DECISIONS & TAKE ACTION
Take control of your life. Take full responsibility for the things that happen to you. Limit bad habits and try to lead a healthier life. Find a sport that makes you happy. Most of all, don’t procrastinate. Let your life be shaped by decisions you made, not by the ones you didn’t.
DON’T TAKE YOUR LOVED ONES FOR GRANTED
Appreciate the people around you. Your friends and relatives will always be an infinite source of strength and love. That is why you shouldn’t take them for granted.
It is difficult for me to fully express my feelings about the importance of these simple realizations, but I hope that you will listen to someone who has experienced how valuable time is.
I’m not upset because I understand that the last days of my life have become meaningful. I only regret that I will not be able to see a lot of cool stuff that should happen soon like the creation of AI, or Elon Musk’s next awesome project. I also hope that the war in Syria and Ukraine will end soon.
We care so much about the health and integrity of our body that until death, we don’t notice that the body is nothing more than a box – a parcel for delivering our personality, thoughts, beliefs and intentions to this world. If there is nothing in this box that can change the world, then it doesn’t matter if it disappears. I believe that we all have potential, but it also takes a lot of courage to realize it.
You can float through a life created by circumstances, missing day after day, hour after hour. Or, you can fight for what you believe in and write the great story of your life. I hope you will make the right choice.
Leave a mark in this world. Have a meaningful life, whatever definition it has for you. Go towards it. The place we are leaving is a beautiful playground, where everything is possible. Yet, we are not here forever. Our life is a short spark in this beautiful little planet that flies with incredible speed to the endless darkness of the unknown universe. So, enjoy your time here with passion. Make it interesting. Make it count!
God said: Let go of that whole idea of tit for tat, for this gets you nowhere. Of course, if someone is wonderful to you, you want to reciprocate in kind. Loving is a goal you set for yourself yet not for anyone else. Be the love you long to receive. In love, you […]
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