3 Other Brilliant Ways to Waste Your Life (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 241)
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
— Muhammad Ali
Deep down inside of us, we know our lives are meant to be so much more. Even when we have all the money and material possessions a single soul could ever want, we look forward to making our lives count in some special way. At first, it might be innocent curiosity, not intending to spark any flame or move us any farther than an inch away from our current zone of comfort. But soon it turns into a nagging thought that is on our conscience day in and day out. We want to make our lives worth something that is long-lasting, even permanently etched somewhere in the world that we made a difference. In order to make any difference or solve any problem, we’ve got to make sure we’re not whittling away time and existence.
Here are some brilliant things we all do that cause us to waste our lives:
1. We waste our lives being overwhelmed, frustrated, and resentful.
We’ve all experienced these feelings at one time or another before, but being in a perpetual state of feeling overwhelmed which usually is the cause of frustration and results in resentment is an unhealthy way to live. A person who is overwhelmed eventually becomes a person who cannot function at minimum capacity, and certainly not at maximum capacity. If you are trying to juggle too many things at one time, you will feel as though you are hopeless, wonder how you will get it all done, and then not do anything at all — not even try.
Many people wear it as a badge of honor to have their weekly schedules jam-packed with things to do, people to see, and places to go. However, if you do that, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Sure there will always be more things we can do, but you can only do so much at once and within one day. You will have to prioritize. And one good way to do that is to erase your calendar complete, throw away your to-do list and start completely over with a blank calendar or a blank sheet of paper and put on it only was it necessary. Usually, what is necessary is only one to three things. Focusing on what is truly important instead of everything in the world will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and leave good space for productivity and joy.
2. We waste our lives by avoiding discomfort and pain.
As much as we would like for it to be and as much as some of us even wish for it to be in the face of reality, life is not about fun and games all the time. Real life hits us square in the face every once in a while and informs us of the very bad news that something terrible is happening to us, around us, or within us. It opens up the door widely to the pain that exists in far off corners of the world that we don’t even think about, and some places that we didn’t even know existed. As it turns out, suffering is an inevitable, unenviable part of life. We can’t hide from it, avoid it, or postpone it.
At the same time, suffering has a way of helping us to view life differently. Life is fragile. We lose jobs, pets, family members, lovers, and material possessions. We get sick, injured, hurt, and die. Pain is intense for a reason and it is in our best interest to feel it intensely because it is only in the feeling that we actually get through it. Running from pain or avoiding discomfort at every turn only makes the process of enduring longer. The longer you put it off, the greater it becomes. You may be able to decrease suffering, but you’ll never be able to avoid it. Instead of wasting time with that, you need to be willing to go through things, embrace change, however tragic it may be, and don’t try to make the situation so much better than it really is. Pain is meant to be felt — painfully. Be vulnerable to it. Accept it. And in the end, learn the lessons that can only come through the school of discomfort.
3. We waste our lives by escaping into a fantasy world.
Living your dreams is more fascinating than living a fantasy ever will be. Too many people like to escape real life because they lack the courage to deal with each moment as it comes. They hold on to guilt, bitterness, and anger so tightly that they don’t want to even know what it would feel like to let such feelings go. So instead of dealing with the here and now, they jet set off into a world of wishful thinking. They stay in this world unfortunately until reality knocks so loudly that they have to answer.
When you’re living in a fantasy world, bills go unpaid, messages go unanswered, people in your life go unattended to, and change is resisted. This is why we can’t live permanently in such a world. It is for a brief time that we get to leave our current existence and take off to some exotic island or crash in the cozy seats at the movie theater. It’s a temporary experience, not a permanent escape. We waste precious time and lose ground on all the things we have gained when we replace really living with mere fantasizing. Those who live their dreams are willing to pay the price of overcoming the challenges that help them to get to where they want to go.
“It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes… It is so easy to exist instead of live.”
— Anna Quindlen