Saturday, October 31, 2009
Paint Your Days
Consider this. The average life expectancy in the United States is around 80 years. Knowing your own age, you can figure out about how many days you have left on this beautiful Earth. I'm guessing that if I take good care of myself and stay healthy, I have somewhere between 13,000 to 15,000 days remaining. That sounds like a lot, but it's still a finite number.
In a 24 hour day, we spend 6-8 hours sleeping and probably another 10-12 working and doing other extraneous activities that must be done -- getting dressed, cleaning, running errands, doing chores, etc. That's 16-20 hours of your day spent sleeping, working or doing things that are either neutral or a pain in the butt. And if you don't like your job, you are really living most of your day uncreatively and frustrated. Add up those hours, and you've consumed nearly three quarters of your days on Earth alive but not really living. Is that what you want?
If you can shift your thinking a bit, you might see that each remaining day is a beautiful, incredible, glorious gift. If you shift your thinking you might decide, or even demand, that you start living consciously and creatively. So what does that mean? For me it means reclaiming as much of my day as possible for living that brings me joy and meaning and contentment. I want all of my days to be lived that way. I only have a few thousand left!
If you see your day as a blank canvas, start with your vision of the completed masterpiece and work backward. What do you want for today and for every day of your life? I want fulfilling work. I want to experience beauty. I want to interact with loving family and friends. I want to learn. I want to enjoy nature. Filling your day with more of what you want and less of what you don't want takes some courageous action. You might decide you need a different job. You might need to let go of some unhealthy relationships. You might have to simplify your life with less stuff and fewer commitments.You might have to let go of fear of failure or being too old or unable to change. These bold actions might take a little time. But not taking them will steal nearly all of your time.
When your day becomes your own self-created masterpiece, time slows down. You are savoring time instead of killing it. You are living in the moment instead of for the next moment. There will be stuff that still needs doing -- neutral or unpleasant stuff. So here's another secret to slowing down time: even with this stuff, stay in the present moment. Do these tasks with intention and focus -- even with gratitude. If you are distracted, you are in the future, and you've given away the now. Give away enough nows, and you've lost days, weeks, even years. You have the power to make even the most unpleasant now a moment of your own creation. With intentional living, you will have less and less of these unpleasant moments.
Now imagine your remaining day on Earth. You are looking back on the canvas of your life. How do you want it to look? Is it splattered with the paint of fearful, boring and unconscious living? Or is it an exquisite masterpiece of your creation, artfully and lovingly rendered by your own bold hand?