Personal Development, Thoughts, Wellness

If You Cannot Live Longer…

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“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.

 
Intentional Pauses

 
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.

 
Gratitude

 
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.

 
Mindfulness

 
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.

 
Serving

 
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!

 

Taking Risks

 

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?  

 

 

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Diet and Nutrition, Physical Fitness

On Becoming a Vegetarian

My husband and I recently decided to become vegetarians. For years, I’d been considering this change, but felt gun-shy because I didn’t think it was a choice that I would be able to actually follow through with. It’s only been a month since we made this decision, and it hasn’t been without its challenges, but it’s been a lot easier to follow through with than I thought it’d be! I wanted to share the reasons I made this choice, some of the challenges it brings, and some of the things I am learning as a result of doing this.

I’ve always found it interesting that, at least according to the Biblical account of creation, God originally only gave humans and animals permission to eat things that grow out of the ground (Genesis 1:29-30). We weren’t permitted by God to consume animals until after the flood (perhaps all the vegetation had been drowned out?). The fact that, in God’s original design of the human body, we only needed fruit and vegetables for sustenance speaks volumes to me about why we are not currently thriving in terms of the state of our collective health. Disease is rampant, and yet often times preventable simply through diet. I know we can’t control most of the things that happen to us in life, but if I can do my best to take care of this body that God gave me, to be around longer and to be healthy enough to do whatever it is that God might have me to do, I’d like to get on board with that!

Another concept that I’ve felt personally convicted of over the years is the concept of Ahimsa – or non-injury – to all sentient beings. This concept is adhered to in the Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. The basic idea is that we (humans, animals, and insects/bugs) are all in this together. These traditions go beyond showing love to your fellow man, but also showing love and care to anything that lives. I love the compassion in that, and I think it echoes what God intended when he told us that we were to be stewards over the earth (Genesis 1:28). Full disclosure, I am still working on letting bugs live when I find them in my house or my classroom– but I’m getting there!

Finally, it just isn’t healthy to eat the meat that is mass produced here in the United States. Our animals aren’t raised humanely, are fed products that are inconsistent with what’s healthiest for them, and then killed in (often times) tortuous fashion, and brought right to our dinner tables. I often wonder what is happening to our bodies when we are eating sick, traumatized, and depressed animals?

The challenge for us, in being vegetarians, is that it can be hard to plan and execute good meals. I work full time, we are both involved in activities outside of work, and we have a lot of things currently happening in the life of our family. In the past, when we were too tired to cook or plan dinner – we’d just go out and grab something quick and easy. That’s a lot harder to do when you are a vegetarian! Though I haven’t craved meat, I do suspect that abstaining from seafood will be a bit of a challenge for me. I love my lobster and crab legs in the summer! But I’ll just take it one day at a time and cross that bridge when I get there.

One of the things I am learning is how to cook differently, making vegetables as the main portion of the meal as opposed to them being a side dish. I am also learning to detach from food. A friend of mine who went paleo mentioned that she was learning this, too. And I have a better understanding of what she meant now, than I did when she first said it. Not that it’s bad to enjoy the food we eat, but I am learning that food is primarily for sustenance. In the past, the enjoyment of food (for me) took precedence over whether or not a particular food item was beneficial for my body. This realization surprised me, because I am not a foodie by any strtch of the imagination! But, by refocusing my purpose for eating (sustenance and not enjoyment), I am finding that I am not as attached to food as I previously had been. Which, I think, is a good thing!

A final thing that I am learning has to do with the difference between saying, “I’m a vegetarian,” and actually eating a plant based diet. Just because a person is a vegetarian doesn’t mean they are eating healthily! There was one day where all I ate was cheese pizza, popcorn, fruit snacks, and a Dr. Pepper. Those things are all technically “vegetarian” in the sense that I didn’t have any meat – but none of it is plant based! (And, I felt horrible at the end of that day).

Ultimately, I think being a vegetarian is the healthiest dietary choice for my body, and I want to do whatever will allow me to experience my body to its fullest potential!

Have you ever significantly changed your diet? And if you’re a vegetarian, send me your recipes!

Thanks for reading!