We often forget what it is like to truly be and feel alive because we are so busy living.
“Spoiler, we die in the end”. I recently came across this quote written by Atticus. Initially when I read it, I laughed a little and then just as quickly as the humour arose in me, it immediately stopped and I thought “but are we truly alive right now?”
We are busier now than we have ever been and not just physically busy, but mentally and emotionally busy. We are being encouraged to “practice the pause”, or to “embrace stillness”, but we are also encouraged to achieve more, do more, and be more.
We spend copious amounts of time wondering when the other ball is going to drop, living in the past or worrying about the future, that we lose complete sight of the present. We focus on chasing happiness as if it is some end goal that we must achieve, yet in the process of racing to the finish line, we detach from not only the present moment, but ourselves.
Then there is regret. I often meet with people who express regret over the time they feel they have wasted. They wish they had done things differently, that they didn’t work such long hours, that they spent more time getting to know who they were, or moved away from things (or people) that were dulling their fire. However, as cliché as it may sound, it is never too late to be and feel alive! I often give the example of people who are terminally ill and are given a prognosis. Suddenly they are jumping out of airplanes, travelling the world, shark diving, having difficult conversations, and the list goes on!
Listed below are some ideas that can serve as a starting point for you to dig a bit deeper and help you to recover your lost or misplaced self, which will allow you to feel more alive in the process.
1) Introspection: Take some time to reflect on the following: what truly leaves you feeling happy in life? When was the last time you truly felt alive? What were you doing (or not doing)? Who were you with (or not with)?
2) Say NO: We say YES a lot! Often, in order to lean into the experience of truly living, we may need to say no to that which is no longer serving us. It may be time to reflect on the things you are saying yes to when you want to say no, or not right now.
3) The time is now: We spend so much time racing towards happiness, or living in the past, that we lose full sight of living and being in the moment. The only time that ever truly exists is right here, right now.
4) No more pity parties: Playing the victim will not help you to feel more alive. Self-pity is our worst enemy as it serves to keep us stuck. Next time you catch yourself saying that you cannot do anything about your current life situation, think again because you can should you choose to.
5) The golden rule: You get back what you put out. This does not mean we should give to receive, but this does mean that the energy that we are offering is what will return to us. It was the Dalai Lama who said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
6) Practice simplicity: Some of the greatest pleasures in life can be found in simplicity. Research has shown that over-consumption does not equate to happiness, but simplicity does. Reflect on the simple things that you truly enjoy, write them down, and then create space to experience them.
7) Get your love on: We are hard-wired for connection and we feel the most alive when we are getting our love on! Spread this love to others, the world, and towards yourself because when we operate from a place of love, we set our soul on fire!
You do not need a prognosis to start living! Instead, you can choose to make different choices and decisions in your life and show up for yourself in a way that you never have before. Rather than merely existing, go where you feel most alive because what’s a finish line without some incredible stories and memories to share along the way!
Leanne Sawchuck is a registered psychotherapist and art therapist based in Kitchener, Ontario. She is the founder of Willow & Oak Psychotherapy and Counselling Centre and specializes in addictions, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, eating disorders, body image, and trauma. @leannesawchuktherapy