“If you can’t live longer, live deeper.”
I was scrolling through Instagram a few days ago when I first saw this quote on my feed. I have no idea where it originates, but immediately it resonated with me and quickly moved to a top position on my list of favorite quotes.
I’m a bit of a stoic in the sense that I have always thought quite a bit about death. Every few hours, I think about the fact that even my next breath isn’t guaranteed. Whenever I find myself among hundreds of people, I wonder who among us will live to see the next year. The next month. The next day. And while I am not afraid of death, I have so much to live for.
If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to take in all the beauty of life and make the most out of each moment. I can’t control how much time I have on Earth, but I do want to be sure not to waste it.
So how do we live deeper?
I think that each person is ultimately responsible for figuring out how to live deeply in their own context. But here are a few things that I try to consistently do in order to savor life.
I remember being ten or eleven, sitting in a Sunday School class. I wasn’t very well-liked and was often bullied by the other kids in my church. Everyone was engaged in the lesson and had partnered up with their friends to complete the activity, but I was by myself in the back of the room. I remember looking around the room and thinking to myself, “this is the only time that this moment will ever happen in my life.” I remember feeling outside of time as I took in the reality of the fact that I would never get that moment back. It’s the closest I think I’ve ever come to an out of body experience. From that point on, I have sought to pause in the middle of as many experiences as possible, whether mundane or extraordinary, good or bad, and remind myself of the fact that I will never have that precise moment return to me, ever again.
These intentional pauses in your day can also be in the form of taking time out of your day to refocus. When I lived in the city, I used to take an hour long walk on my lunch break every day. It was such a great time to inspire my imagination, listen to music, take pictures, people watch, or read (I can read and walk). Ultimately it helped me to organize my thoughts, feel refreshed, and be ready for the second half of my work day.
Taking the time to realize just how fleeting life is can often lead into gratitude. I’ve heard it said that gratitude is the secret to happiness, and I can’t help but agree. Ever since starting a practice of gratitude almost five years ago, I’ve been a significantly happier person. It’s so important to recognize that most of the good in our lives came to us simply through grace. I did very little (if anything at all) to deserve the things, experiences, and the people that I have in my life, and yet I have them. I did nothing to deserve life, and yet I am still here, while other seemingly more deserving people are not. I make a conscious effort each day not to take any of it for granted.
Everyone seems to be talking about mindfulness these days. It might be a passing trend, but there is permanent value to it! We miss out on so much of life when our bodies are present, but our minds are elsewhere. We miss the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel, and the taste of where we are and what we’re doing at any given moment. A huge part of living deeply is being in the moment and fully experiencing whatever it is you’re doing.
This can also be applied abstractly. Take the time to really lean in and feel whatever challenges you might be going through in life. The experience of that challenge is there to help you grow, and the more of us that grow and overcome – the better our world can be.
Although a huge component of living deeply depends on your mindset, there’s another component that most people don’t talk about when they discuss living a full life – and that is living in the service of others. There are a lot of problems in the world, and none of us can solve them all. But we can all do something to be part of solving those issues that we are passionate about! Take the time to get involved in something that resonates with you! As you step outside of yourself and serve others, you will find adventure, purpose, and a depth to life that you may not have known before!
Speaking of adventure – don’t let fear hold you back from doing the things that are important to you. Life comes and goes so quickly. A lot of times our lives go unfulfilled because we stick to being safe, doing what we think we have to do, doing what we think will help us to fit in, doing what we think will earn us respect from others – and we end up miserable! If there’s a calling that you’ve been suppressing, make a plan and set it into motion!
What will YOU do to live deeper, today?