The Secret to Living Your Life to The Fullest

It’s a quiet Sunday morning, I’ve come up to my parents’ house to visit for the weekend. Logan, our 4-legged family member, is sleeping on my shoulder. His faint snoring is the only other discernible sound outside of the country music in my headphones (I’m just as surprised as you that I listen to country). My coffee is getting a little cold because I can’t reach for it, but I don’t care, because it’s not worth stressing over.

Not coincidentally, I am reading the book ‘The Point Is‘ by Lee Eisenberg.

Just in case you need a visual:

sunday

You see, this article is a bit different than what I usually write. But lately, life is a bit different itself.

A few weeks ago, we nearly lost Logan due to a severe epileptic fit. He was in a coma and had less than a 10% chance of coming back to us. When he walked out of the hospital on his own, they called him a miracle.

Shortly after, we nearly lost my grandmother due to a choking incident. She went into cardiac arrest and they said very few people come back from that – but she did. Also, what could be considered a miracle, if that’s how you refer to identify it.

But, most recently, a long battle was lost by someone who used to be very, very close to me. A young, vibrant person who had her entire life ahead of her. A life which will not be lived. And when you once loved someone, when they leave this earth, all of the memories and experiences you shared seemingly become fresh again, as if you’d just been smiling and laughing with them the day before.

If these instances aren’t cause for reflection, I don’t know what is.

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You see, every second with Logan and my grandmother now, is extra precious. It is a novelty. A bonus. A second that very possibly may not have been possible. Every time I watch Logan stretch or adjust or sigh deeply, I do it with the understanding that his little body nearly ceased to function. He, simply, almost no longer existed.

Just like that.

The reality of morality is this: It is temporary. None of us escape the inevitability of what comes, it is only a matter of when.

Here’s why I think that’s empowering, and not depressing: Realizing this truth is the very secret of living the life we have to its fullest. Embracing and fully understanding that each moment we have with each other is one that should be fully felt and experienced with the heart. Every second of every day where we are not happy, is a second wasted.

Life is just too damn short.

This is the very foundation of appreciation – the fact that nothing is permanent. Think of your favorite meal, or movie, or book. The very thing that makes these experiences special is that they have an end to them. The end may leave you feeling wanting – wishing that the experience would continue, but if it lasted forever it would lose its novelty.

It would lose the very essence of its existence; an opportunity to savor an experience, to create a memory, to absorb it, learn and grow from it.

The irony is, none of us are ignorant to this reality. We all know it is coming. Don’t we? We know that we are not immortal, yet we spend our days tacitly pretending we are. We argue over petty things, we spend hours scrolling through newsfeeds watching other people live their lives, all the while chiseling down the time left in our own.

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Acts like this only make sense when observed under light of eternity. But we do not have eternity. We have now.

And, it is always now.

The memories we collect and create are the very fabric of our lives. The cars we drive, the places we live in, the clothes we wear, are simply adornments that dress up the real substance of life.  The real substance comes from our relationships, friendships, family, connections with others, fulfillment, love of self.We cannot get so caught up in making a living that we forget to create a life.

The world moves fast. It is not simple to create this happiness, I admit. Though, perhaps that is why it seems to be so rare. We are not appreciating life because we are not living it, and we are not living it because we refuse to recognize the fact that, someday, we won’t be able to anymore.

What have I found to be the secret to living life to the fullest? This very realization. Stop. Smell the roses. Stare at the stars. Travel. Absorb the presence of someone else. Unplug and just sit in the sun by yourself for awhile. Allow yourself the privilege of hugging someone a little bit longer. Cuddling with your pet without reaching for your phone. Strolling down the street while everyone else is rushing by you.

Life is short enough as it is, we don’t need to rush through it.

As a final thought, I leave you with a quote from Jack Powell:

“Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish and think of me.”
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8 thoughts on “The Secret to Living Your Life to The Fullest

  1. I’ve quietly read your articles on the New Chivalry Movement for quite sometime (my girlfriend agrees and enjoys your works immensely) and reading this one reminds me that the relationship I have with the one I love thousands of miles away is very important and one to be cherished.

    I don’t claim to know you but I’d like to let you know that I’m sorry for your loss and that your writing has been helpful in what I should be more of and less of as a gentleman and as a human being.

    Thank you.

  2. James- Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt message, and for the love you bring to the world through the course of your writings. My best to you in always.

  3. Loved this! My husband passed away 7/2014… I have 2 kids at home.. My daughter and I were just talking about how happiness just sneakes up on us and it’s the little things to be aware of. We try to catch a sunrise or sunset almost every day. There is perfect and good enough and some times good enough is perfect. Our family motto is Finish strong and live well.. Thank you for sharing your writing.

  4. Just wondering about your young lady that passed away and your relationship? You and I are years apart.. Look forward to listening to your words. Being optomistic too, the grieving and letting go is so hard. You have any advise?

  5. Hi, James

    Just a couple things…

    First, I’m SO GLAD you didn’t lose Logan! Definitely a miracle… I am praising God he’s still with you!

    (same for your Grandma, obviously!)

    Second, we CAN have eternity, you know… God gives us that chance, if we’re willing to receive it. It’s a gift. I’m always willing to talk more about that, if you wish — just pop me a note.

    Anyway. Hope you’re doing well. And thanks for this post… really, really well said.

    PS… Have you read “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, yet? If not, you should

  6. Thank you James for such a great article once again. Thanks to God for the miracles in your family and my condolence at the passing of your love one. I do agree with Jenn that we CAN have eternity. God has made it possible by sending His son so that we can be forgiven of our sins. Thanks again James…this cause for reflection. God bless.

  7. Hello James,
    First I am so happy to hear that your family members are ok, and sadden to hear of your loss. You have such a beautiful way with your words, that I always look forward to your posts and always pass them on to my son, Noah to read.(who is 20). This post was one of them. I also was moved to share something with you and your readers, especially with the two comments above who mentioned God. I wanted to recommend the audio book version read by James Naughton, called, “The Road To Cana” by Anne Rice. It will stir your soul beyond measure! You will be so moved by the story and VOICE that you will think you have Jesus sitting right next to you. Every person that I have given this book to, and especially the audio version, comes back to tell me their reaction which is amazing!!!Ibeyond the words I use here to describe. It is a spiritual experience. PLEASE give it a try and if you have time, I would love to hear what you think.

    Kind Regards,

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