Have you put your life on hold?

May 19, 2017 by Janet Marlin

I want to be able to wear a blouse tucked into jeans, but am waiting until I have lost weight and am in better shape to do so.  My friend has had severe panic attacks and is waiting to “feel better” before resuming work and social activities that she used to love.  What do we have in common?  We have pressed the “pause button” on life while we wait for things to feel “right” or “better”.

Has this happened to you or someone you know?  What are you waiting for?  What needs to be “fixed” before you can move on with the life that you desire?  We all know that our time on earth is limited.  The harsh reality is that if you live until age 85 that means that you will spend 31,025 days on this earth.  I am 67 years old so, by my calculation, I have 7,300 days left to live.  That is a sobering thought and helps me to put into perspective every day, every hour and every minute that I am not engaging in activities that are most meaningful to me.

How many days do you have left?   

         31,025                 –  (                                X        365      )  =                     days left to live.

# days to age 85                 Your current age


Now, how are you going to spend your remaining days?  Will you sit back and wait for something to be “fixed”?

Here are some tips for that will help you to get the most out of your life.

  1. Get out of autopilot. Practice both formal and informal mindfulness to keep you in the present moment.  For example, eat a meal for the first 5 minutes in silence.  Notice everything about the food and your surroundings.  Or, schedule an hour a day with no electronics.  Stop to smell the roses.
  2. Choose to live a life that is most meaningful to you. Identify your values (i.e. family, work, friends, health, education, etc.) and look for ways to move towards those values with every decision that you make.
  3. Increase your production of endorphins, the feel good drug. By exercising in your training heart rate range for 30 minutes a day, you can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood and increase the amount of energy that you need to engage in other meaningful activities.
  4. Adopt a mantra – “This too shall pass”. Everyday things happen that result in stress, fear and anger, but a few days later those events are hardly remembered.  Learn how to sit with those thoughts without letting them control your reaction.
  5. Choose to observe rather than neglect and to do rather than avoid. Rather than trying to get through the day, see what you can get out of the day.  You will find greater direction and purpose in your life.

If you want to understand how these suggested strategies may change your life, Vicktor Frankl wrote a great book about how humans need purpose in their lives called Man’s Search for Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust.  It’s a moving and fascinating story of the people who suffered in the concentration camps and how meaning in their lives kept some of them alive.


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