I love the song "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw. Living life to its fullest is a great notion, but it certainly isn't very realistic on a daily basis. And, short of a near death experience, I can't imagine what would motivate you to make such a drastic and permanent life change.
Luckily, you don't have to wait for a close call to change the course of your life. Instead, you can make small manageable changes that ultimately have a huge impact.
To begin with, people make permanent changes after a tragedy because of the intense gratitude they feel for escaping death or a profound loss. It's common to assign meaning to the car accident or the heart attack because it provided motivation for turning their life around. Others believe misfortunes are divinely inspired and serve as the catalyst for change. Regardless, why not circumvent the need for the tragedy altogether and take charge of your future. You can do it one small step at a time.
During one of my workshops we tested the theory. Take a moment and go through the process to see if it works for you. The first step is to come up with your own answers to the following four questions. (I've included some of the class responses.)
Question 1: How would you like others to see you?
- _______(Insert your name) never said a bad word about anyone.
- _______(Insert your name) always made time to listen to a friend.
- _______(Insert your name) never judged.
Question 2: What can you do to make sure you have no regrets?
- _______(Insert your name) quickly forgave.
- _______(Insert your name) let people know they were special.
- _______(Insert your name) showed compassion for the struggles of others.
Questions 3: What kind of relationship would you like to have with yourself?
- _______(Insert your name) accepted her flaws with humor and grace.
- _______(Insert your name) was always humble.
- _______(Insert your name) treated herself kindly.
Question 4: What kind of example would you like to set?
- _______(Insert your name) treated people with respect.
- _______(Insert your name) operated from a place of honesty and integrity.
- _______(Insert your name) appreciated the small things.
Once you have your answers, the next step is to say the statements out loud and pay attention to how they feel. Then, ask yourself if you truly want to be the person those statements described. If you answer "yes," make a commitment to thoughtfully and purposefully read your list every morning before you start your day and each evening before you go to bed. This exercise takes one minute per day and fuels change through desire, not pain.
When a concept or statement is on the forefront of your mind, you subconsciously act accordingly as well as seek out the experience to validate it. Your life subtlety shifts to reflect your statements. This is why repeated affirmations are so powerful.
You have nothing to lose by giving it a try and everything to gain. Learning and growing through joy is a lot more pleasant than learning through suffering. Why wait for a near miss or tragedy to embrace who you know you can be? Why strive to live like you were dying, when you can simply live like you are truly living?