Too many people are on the go from morning until late at night. Technology hasn’t slowed our lives down or given us more leisure time. Instead, our lives seem to be on fast forward. There’s more to do, we have to be constantly available to others, and we are enjoying our lives less and less. We have to stop wearing ourselves out.
Have you ever noticed that when you drive into a graveyard, there’s usually a sign that says, “One Way Traffic Only”? Well, this is the road all of us are on – the road of life that eventually leads to death. Now, knowing with certainty that you’re going to end up dead should cause you to think about two things: how long you want to live and how you want to spend your time on this earth.
Unless you take good care of yourself and make sure that you take the time to regenerate your body, mind, and spirit you will die sooner rather than later. If you’re constantly rushing around then you are driving yourself into an early grave. There is nothing unhealthier for you than a stressful, driven lifestyle. In your frantic efforts to do everything, be everywhere, and get everything done, you’ll undermine your health and worry all the joy out of your life.
To put a stop to this madness, think about what your ultimate goal is and get your priorities clear. Then, put your behavior behind your thoughts and create the life you want to live.
Your goal should be to appreciate your life and to make the time you spend on this earth worthwhile – not only for yourself but for others too. Analyze your movements for one whole day. You’ll probably see that the majority of your activities have really been a waste of time. You may be driven by others’ priorities; you may have escaped into meaningless behaviors; or you may have focused on the past or the future and forgotten to live today.
You can change this right now. Start your day off calmly and with a plan. Eliminate busy work and don’t let others control your agenda. Just because your children, spouse, parents, friends, boss, or complete strangers (like telephone solicitors) ask you to do things, it doesn’t mean that you have to do them.
Set your priorities. Your priorities should not be based on some vague notion of what you think you should do. Your priorities should be based on what it is you value. You decide what’s important and whether or not you want to include it in your day. Make everything you do a conscious choice. Remember that there are consequences to every decision. Choose wisely for you are responsible for each moment of your life.
Live consciously for one day and you’ll be amazed at the difference. I guarantee that your daily list will be reduced by more than half. When you make your day a matter of choice, you’ll rediscover the power that is yours to create your life. You’ll be aware of the simple joys that are there for you to choose at your pleasure. Rather than just getting things done, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on what’s truly important.
The most effective way to regenerate on an ongoing basis is to cultivate a calm, patient, and loving nature. When you are in control of your life, you can set the pace. You’ll be determined to live by these principles because you know that to conduct your life as if you’re driven is just another way of being in the fast lane to the cemetery.
If you start living in a peaceful and deliberate way, you’ll want to live a long time because you will enjoy each day. There will be more than enough energy to do all of the things you truly want to do. You’ll go to bed at night with a healthy tiredness instead of nervous exhaustion. Each morning, you’ll wake up cheerfully anticipating your day because it will be a day filled with what you value and what you’ve chosen to put into it.
Teach yourself to live consciously and with a clear purpose. Take it easy and take pleasure in life as you go along. Give something good and valuable to the world. You’ll end up in the same place as everyone else, but your journey will have been a joy and you’ll have left the world grateful to you for having been here.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.