Lately, you may have sensed I have been asking some pretty deep questions about life, myself and the world around me. I never used to dig so deep as it can be an uncomfortable place to look. However, a couple of years ago I started a journey which has me clearly on a path of exploring some pretty deep things about life. Despite all the things happening in my life, what has never left me is a phrase I’ve learned more recently: Make every breath count.
Last week I read to two posts which got me thinking about where I’m at in life.
My friend and mentor, Art Shirk published “Surrender: The Art of Living, Loving and Dying without training wheels“. Art has been one of the leaders in the CTI Leadership program I have been participating in these past ten months. Throughout the time I have known Art he has been dependent on wearing oxygen just to do the simple things in life. Art has a progressive and terminal disease; Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Art’s disease has progressed, and he is now at home receiving hospice care. Unfortunately, Art will not be able to join us for the fourth and final retreat next month.
I have mixed emotions about the thought of Art entering this last phase of his life. I will miss seeing Art one more time and having the opportunity to say goodbye and seal it with a hug. Then I feel inspired, as even in a time of life when it would be understandable for someone to behave selfishly, Art opens his heart and posts something with a message focused on something we live our life trying to avoid.
Art has a tattoo which expresses one of the greatest gifts I have received from him. Art’s tattoo says “Make every breath count.” Our time on this planet is limited, and what’s the point of life if we spend our time worried about the small things, compromising ourselves for the sake of money, or waiting for tomorrow to live fully. Why not live your life with abundance, and be the fullest expression of who you are right now here today? No compromises!
I intend to make every breath count. I may have only a few breaths left, or I may have another billion to go. Given this, what do I need to surrender to make the most of the time I have.
Life is long
Yesterday, my good friend Jason Little published 12 Tips to Surviving the Modern World. I love how Jason starts by pointing to how we have lots of time in life, and the reality is you’re going to encounter all kinds of crap on your journey. So you have a choice to make; you can make yourself miserable trying to control and fight the crap, or you can just simply let it go and enjoy life to it’s fullest.
When you get to the core of how I read Jason’s message, he’s expressing what I’ve become in tune with these past couple years. How often have I put an immense amount of energy into getting upset about someone who’s being seemingly rude or selfish towards me? How often have I tried to push emotions away rather than learning to be with them as they are a part of my life? How often have I hung onto a job I hated as I wanted to hold on to the money I was earning like it was my last dollar. What do I need to let go of to live life more fully?
What I’ve learned from Jason is how I have lots of time left so why not live my life in my way? Be late for work. Don’t worry about the small stuff. Let the hot-headed driver have his way. Stop allowing myself to be disappointed when I don’t get even a simple thanks for a favour. Who cares about keeping up with the Jones’s; who says they’re in a better place I want to keep up with?
I think both of these posts are sharing lots of wisdom about life. One from a perspective of your time is limited, the other from the perspective of life is long so stop sweating all the crap which comes your way. For me, I am taking the same lesson from both of these friends as they’re telling me the same thing and add my own to it.
A couple of months back, while at a Leadership retreat I became deeply convicted towards making the most of every moment I have in my life. I sincerely hope I have another 40-50 years to live, and regardless of when this journey ends for me I want to know I am living. Life is why the number 86,400 has become so meaningful to me, as it’s the number of seconds in a day, and I want to live every one of them fully.
The question is what do I need to surrender to make the most of my time? What crap am I carrying around with me that does nothing but weigh me down? It’s time to let go of these things.
What can you do?
None of us knows when we will take our last breath. All you know for sure is you have this day right now, and I invite you to join me in wanting to live every moment fully!
When faced with such a big question, I know it can seem daunting to know what you can do about it. Lots! There’s no right or wrong answer as it’s your life, so you need to find what will work for you. Here’s a few I’d offer which have helped me:
- Hate your job? You have three choices; a) Try to change what’s making you so unhappy, b) Look at what’s making you unhappy to see if your perspective is off centre so you can let go of the unhappy parts or c) find a different job. You notice nowhere in there, do I suggest you should cope with whatever is making you hate it, and live with a job that makes your life so unhappy. Whatever you do, please just don’t go through the motions at work in an attempt to cope. Take action.
- Worried what other people might think of you? Get a tattoo. Seriously. I can tell you from experience; I was making up some pretty juicy stories about what others think of me. I know getting a tattoo might be a bit extreme for you. So what is it you have wanted for a long time, and you haven’t gone out and done because you were worried about what others might think of you? Do it today!
- Tired of the rat race? Easy one: Stop running with the rats! I used to be caught up in the rat race of life, so I get it. Get up, commute to work, go through the motions, commute home and repeat; all in the name of earning a pay cheque. I felt like a rat looking for cheese in the maze. I stopped trying to race some time ago. I’ve even stopped worrying about keeping myself busy with work all the time, which with being self-employed can be a scary proposition. What’s ironic, is by letting go of the worry about keeping myself busy, I have more work than I could have imagined not that long ago.
- Don’t like you neighbour? Try loving them. That’s right. Love them. Not the type of love you reserve for your family or friends. I’m talking about respecting and honouring the life your neighbour is living in their way. It doesn’t mean you have to like them, or be friends with them, only that you can allow them to live their life in their way.
- Getting upset with yourself by the number of times you repeat bad habits? Stop. Breath deep for a couple of minutes. Now remind yourself this is all apart of the journey. Better yet remind yourself how much you love yourself, and these funky things are what’s keeping the journey alive. Without some of the bad habits, it would be incredibly difficult to learn and grow. Now breath deep again and get yourself back into the game. Whatever you do, don’t waste time beating yourself up as you just don’t deserve it.
Make every breath count
Art, I love you for having given me such a beautiful gift packaged in the four simple words: Make Every Breath Count. I am assuming I will spend the rest of my life learning what this simple phrase means. However, you can count on me continuing to live my life on purpose, and wanting to have an impact in ways I cannot imagine today.
While I’m doing this, I will remember the wisdom Jason shared which is never to forget to live. When I’ve focused solely on trying to fix myself, I’m never happy as I never seem to get there (where-ever there is). So screw that! I will take the time just to enjoy my life without having to fix it all the time, I will celebrate my messiness, and I will get another tattoo if I want one!
Love it Mike!
I completely agree. I have mostly ignored any and all internal questions or feelings or selfish type activities.
Well, I am guessing you know how that turns out.
I became an un-happy, un-empathetic, un-lovable guy. The last 2-3 years have been tough, but I am glad I have managed to keep most of it together.
Life is not easy, but I’m with you. Enjoy it, good and bad. And make every breath count.
I have withheld getting tattoos, listening to my music, and doing things that make me happy. I believe a happy me is a better me, and seeing your words really helps!!
Have an amazing 2017!!
Hey Chad! Love it .. “a happy me is a better me” … definitely!
Wishing you well in the adventure to come … which is 2017!
Nice job Mike! Makes me think of a great book I recently read: the subtle art of not giving a fu$k. Happy new year to you and your close ones. Drop a line when you’re in Ott.
As the wife of someone with idiopathic pulmonary fiebrosis who has just received the gift of a lung transplant your article really resonates with me. I am guilty of not always being present and spending too much timw planning for the future to enjoy the present. Every breath counts! and still live is long and we can make choices to love every moment
Beautifully said Kathie. I’m so happy for your husband having received such a beautiful gift! Choose to love every moment you have.
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