Recently, I attended the funeral of the son of a close friend, who passed away tragically at 20 after a boarding accident. Our heart goes out to his parents and family.
The funeral gave me pause to think about how precious and fleeting life can be, and two things came to mind immediately.
The first is to embrace and live each day to its fullest. And the second is to live a life of purpose.
Let me share my views and some suggestions on living each day to its fullest. In a future blog, I will discuss living a life of purpose.
Our days can be compared to the bricks of a building. If each day is lived to its fullest, then we will have lived a full life when death eventually comes around. So it goes with a building. Strong brick or stone, one on top of the other, make for strong buildings.
But how does one go about really living a full life in the moment, in the midst of so much busyness, clutter, and distractions every day?
The answer I found lay in asking myself 7 key questions, at the end of every day. In fact, these 7 questions were so powerful that I decided to make them the framework for a Daily Journal.
I found that keeping a journal in a purposeful manner has completely changed my outlook on life. At the end of each day, I ask myself the questions listed below – and envision a fantastic tomorrow – which then manifests itself almost unfailingly. I have thought carefully about why this is so and I believe it derives from three factors.
First, when we sleep, our sub-conscious mind, which I believe is even more powerful than the conscious mind, kicks into gear. So each morning, solutions to challenges, big and small, usually present themselves.
Second, in thinking ahead, we invariably do the preparation necessary to achieve a great outcome.
Third, we stop worrying about things – because we know that things will either happen as intended or not but if not there is usually some bigger lesson to be learned.
So here are the questions to ask yourself each evening. I encourage you to follow the proposed system for three weeks. I KNOW you will see great results!
1. What made me happy today?
Think of all the things that made you happy, and list them. They could be the beautiful sunrise, a child’s smile, a connection you make with someone, the difference you made in someone’s life, etc.. You might be surprised to find that rarely is it gaining more possessions, or winning more – rather, it is just BEING.
2. For what am I grateful today?
Instead of complaining about things (and who doesn’t from time to time), try being grateful for everything you have. Remember that most people in the world likely have far, far less to be grateful for that you do. Gratitude is also an acceptance of divine grace – and the more you are thankful for your divine grace, the more of it you will attract.
3. What lessons did I learn today?
Life is full of lessons. Some small, some big. Everyday, we learn something, from the “good” things that happen to us and from the “bad” things that happen to us. Write down your lessons, for you and your spirit are your best teacher. Then review these lessons once a week – you will be amazed at how much you learnt, and how you can use this learning to stay on purpose.
4. What was my good deed today?
This has been the most difficult question for me. Not that I don’t live a life helping people, contributing to various causes, etc. But my definition of a good deed is something that I went out of my way to do for someone else, with no expectation of gain (as opposed to opening the door for someone, letting a car butt in ahead of me, etc – this are mere acts of civility).
5. What was important to me today?
My experience has been that reaching milestones, targets, acquiring new customers, is important to me. Previously, I had viewed these items as defining my happiness – and when I invariably did not succeed at something, I was miserable. Never mind that I could learn something from the exercise. Never mind that is was a near-impossible target for most people to achieve. Never mind that I could have been second, third or achieved partial success. It was all or nothing for me – and this made me a very miserable person to be with whenever I suffered what I considered a “loss”.
So keep perspective on life, and pay careful attention to that which is merely important, and that which is truly vital for your feelings of happiness – it can be all too easy to confuse the two.
6. What did I do to move me towards my goals today?
As you reflect on each day, think about the three or four key life goals that you have outlined for yourself, and ask yourself honestly how what you did today helped you stay on track with one or more goals. Your target is to eventually lead your life so that it is on purpose, and focused entirely on reaching, one step at a time, the awe-inspiring, long term goals you have made to yourself.
7. What will make tomorrow even more outstanding?
Every evening, I visualize what my next day will be like, and what outcomes I will achieve, and I simply prescribe an amazing day for my next day. A funny thing happens: that is exactly how the vast majority of days appear.
I have found it to be particularly helpful to focus my day on two to three key outcomes I wish to achieve in the day. I then allocate as much time as possible to these two to three outcomes in my calendar.
When things go differently, I now have the wisdom not to rail against the world, but to accept different outcomes with grace – and know that there is always a reasons why things are the way they are, that here is likely a lesson from which I can learn (and which often teaches me to take increasing responsibility for my outcomes in life).
So go ahead and prescribe a fantastic, full day, every day – and watch it unfold, day by day.