You don’t want to be like them. You don’t want to have the regrets you think they’ll have when they’re older.
In fact, you don’t want to have any regrets in life, because a regret means you could have done more and you didn’t.
You want to die thinking that your life was one hell of a ride.
…or, at least, that’s what you’ve been told. That’s what people who advise you to live life to the fullest mean.
Then there are the companies, corporations, and magazines who “sell” you an ideal way to live.
They want you to aspire to buy their products and services and spend your hard earned cash with them.
You see their flashy advertising and you adopt the ideas in it. You can see what possibilities lay ahead and you want them all.
And this is a problem because your money is limited. You can only do so many things with it.
The choice of where to spend it is difficult. You just can’t figure out how to weigh up the country retreat for two against a fancy new gizmo that you can show off to anyone and everyone.
And saving… “Ha!” you say, “that’s a fool’s game.” You believe that you should focus on today and spend what you earn because you might get hit by a bus tomorrow.
Why hoard your money away for a rainy day?
What other people might see as reckless, you see as the best way to live.
You may even hit the credit cards or loans hard to get those experiences you want because you’ll be damned if your finances are going to stand in your way.
And as for the impact your lifestyle has on other people, it barely even crosses your mind.
All that travelling, all those things you buy, all those experiences you seek. They come with a wider cost than the one you pay.
The environment suffers for starters. Your carbon footprint is sky high and your need for new things means you burn through finite resources like there’s no tomorrow.
But you’ll say no to plastic straws and always carry a tote bag around… so it’s all good, right?
And the people in the supply chains that provide all those amazing things you buy and the people who provide the services you enjoy… you won’t let them stop you from enjoying all the fruits that life has to offer.
Even if it means they suffer or are exploited so that you can get the life you desire.
It’s all irrelevant. You think everybody should be able to lead whatever life they chose and you chose one that is packed full of everything and anything you can squeeze into it.
Where does it all lead?
I’ll tell you where it doesn’t lead… your happiness.
As I think I’ve just explained in as much detail as I could, your need to live life to the fullest does not leave you with a constant smile on your face or a rush of adrenaline in your veins.
Your Happiness Depends Entirely On External Things
Happiness is the wrong word… after all, happiness is a fleeting emotion that comes and goes.
Call it… fulfillment.
Ful-FILL-ment. You see why it’s so appropriate?
Or you might call it satisfaction.
Whatever you wish to call it, when you try your hardest to live your life to the fullest, you inevitably place great importance on what you do and what you have.
These things are outside of you. They are not a part of you.
With material possessions, this is obvious, right? You enjoy spending money on new clothes or fancy gadgets and the enjoyment you get from them depends on you having them.
As soon as you don’t have anything new or exciting to play with or show off, you become dejected. And you long for your next purchase.
With experiences such as trips and meals out and scuba diving, you may think that the happiness comes from within you.
After all, you are enjoying whatever it is you are doing.
But it doesn’t.
Yes, you may be enjoying yourself, but that enjoyment only lasts for the duration of the experience (and perhaps for a short while after).
Then you find yourself longing to repeat it or planning for the next event or thing to fill your time.
These in-between times are not periods of any great fulfillment, satisfaction, or happiness.
They are voids that you suffer when you have nothing much to occupy you.
They are empty. And for someone who wishes to live a full life, this pains you.
Read that again: the times when you are not experiencing something new, novel, or exciting are times when you feel pain.
And yet, this is a large proportion of your life. A large proportion of your life that you are spending miserable and discontent.
Does that sound like the kind of life you want?
I’d hope not.
Luckily, there is another way…
Living Life To YOUR Fullest
A ‘full’ life doesn’t have to be a bad aim, so long as the picture of ‘full’ you have in your mind is one of your own making.
And so long as that picture includes the essential day-to-day activities such as work, household chores, and any other duties you have.
A ‘full’ life can include routine. A ‘full’ life can include the ordinary.
These are not things that should be resisted. As soon as you resist something, you remove any and all satisfaction you may get from it.
When you find satisfaction – even a level of enjoyment – in the everyday, you have less need to fill it with other things.
When you understand that life IS the biggest adventure of all, you won’t obsess so much about what else you could be spending your time doing.
When you place a value on the time you spend working or tidying up or even just reading a book, you give value to your whole life… not just the exciting bits.
What’s important is that you don’t allow other people to define what it means to live your life to the fullest.
That’s like going to a restaurant and letting someone else choose from the menu for you.
You may end up feeling full by the end, but you won’t be nearly as satisfied with the meal as if you’d made your own choice.
You may even feel uncomfortably full because you’d have preferred something a little lighter and less substantial.
Your ‘full’ doesn’t have to look the same as someone else’s ‘full’ and it certainly doesn’t have to fit society’s model.
In fact, if you model your life on these external visions of ‘full’ and adopt their principles, you’re actually living a very constrained life.
You are being told what’s right and what’s worth doing and you don’t have much say in matters.
So, perhaps your ‘full’ does include adventures in foreign countries and dinners out with friends on weeknights…
…but perhaps it doesn’t.
And if it does, you don’t only view these times as being of substance. You include the ordinary in your definition.
This might even allow you to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal and an evening watching your favorite shows, rather than thinking that this is a waste of your precious time.
Your definition of ‘full’ is fluid and just because you thought you ought to be doing X at one point in your life, it doesn’t mean this will still be the case a few months or years along your journey.
Your definition may even include turning inward at times to really get to know yourself – your true essence – and to develop and grow spiritually.
That alone may help you see how full your life is already. You may find that what matters most to you is enjoying the life you have rather than constantly wishing for a life you don’t have.
And your definition of ‘full’ may include room to breathe. Room in which to feel comfortable and content.
If your idea of a ‘full’ life is jam-packed with things – even everyday things – then it can feel quite claustrophobic.
Just imagine your life as a bubble with you at the center. If that bubble is filled with things you want to do and things you think you should do, you won’t have any room in which to move.
Every which way you turn, you’ll be faced with things to do and see and experience. You won’t be able to just enjoy your space in the bubble and be at peace.
And by keeping back some empty space, you give yourself the flexibility to react to what life brings your way.
You aren’t hung up on a rigid vision of how to fill your time and life. You can take things as they come and make some decisions on an ad hoc basis rather than having everything planned.
A more flexible approach is also far better for your relationships. It won’t be a case of thinking your partner is holding you back – you’ll be able to see how your life and theirs can compliment each other.
You will have space to share their interests and passions… if you wish to.
And you won’t be so hard on those who aren’t trying to cram pack their lives with adventure and excitement. Because you’ll be one of them!
You won’t judge them – you’ll accept that they are living their version of a ‘full’ life while you are living yours.
You’ll also find the present moment is far more accessible to you because you won’t always be wishing away the hours and days until something exciting or enjoyable comes along.
Now, Which Would You Prefer?
Hopefully you’re still with me and you’ve followed all the points I’ve made so far.
The question, then, is which version of a ‘full’ life would you prefer?
The full life in which you are always looking for the next exciting experience to bring you satisfaction.
Your full life in which you can find satisfaction even in your everyday routine and duties while still enjoying adventures from time to time.
If I’ve argued my case convincingly, you’ll probably choose the second option.
And I hope you do.
It is my firm belief that a life truly lived to the fullest is one in which you can end each and every day feeling that it was a day well lived.
Not one in which only a fraction of the days are counted as worthwhile and meaningful.
What do you think? Are you ready to live life to YOUR fullest? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.