Assuming most of you have broken the 30 years in this present form on Planet Earth, I think it is probably safe to say, that the majority of you have looked death in the eye; or considered the likelihood of your impending doom. Yes, this may be a dark topic, but please stay with me, as I’m hoping for a brighter finish. Anyways, there are the quick flashes; the near miss car crash, the “wow, what if we’d have headed out when we were going to,” or “what if we’d kept that reservation…we’d likely not be here now,” and the endless list of almost tumbling down the steps, etc, etc. We’ll put those quick or almosts on one end of the spectrum and then there is slower, terminal diagnosis or simple knowledge of your end. To know you have limited time, which, when you really think about it, we all do, and life is a relative blink of an eye in the big scope of things. Where am I going with this, you are probably thinking at this point? It is the fascination with the following question: Why do we live in a state of near paralysis or stasis; moving from day to day and in some ways, not really living at all, but just “getting by,” or “doing what I gotta do,” and the plethora of other inane comments we make to one another when asked: “What’s going on in your life?” Until we’re faced with the end and all the things that truly matter come rushing through. Why?
In pondering this question, I’m sure the question has come to your mind: “What is going on in Paul’s life to make him wander down this path?” It could be that a Patient, Friend or Family Member is facing this end of life scenario. It could be that I (sorry, couldn’t stand sticking with using my name in the 3rd person, again) am fatigued with hearing about people overdosing and wanting to address the incredible lack of connection in our society…and/or it could be that I am facing a serious health issue of my own…or simply at a point in my life where all of these things are on my radar. I won’t share the answer beyond the following: To a degree, all of these things are true. Now, on to the answering the question: Why do we, so often, not live life fully until we are faced with death…or maybe, jolted out of our comfort zones?
I like to answer questions, often using the Socratic method of using other questions? It’s a good way of rooting out the variables so you can look at an issue from the 360 degree perspective…or at least as close as you are capable of, on your own. Here’s the first question that followed for me: What does it mean to live life fully? When we are afraid for our lives, is it safe to assume that we are thinking about that which is truly important to us? What else might those things mean? Is life a big distraction from the inevitable death we all face and many of us, fear? What else do we distract ourselves from? If we are a balance of everything; the proverbial Yin/Yang scale, good and evil, positive and negative and on and on, can we expect anything other than a life that is nearly half great and nearly half terrible?
So as not to leave you with the weight of the last question on your shoulders, let me take a crack at that by saying that we do not have to succumb to preconceived notions that any other puts on our life. It only matters what we think, and of course, to the confines of the physical or universal laws that define this existence. Socrates would now ask: What room for error might these present laws allow? How sure are we that they cannot be redefined or simply are no longer true for some people? There are many avenues which we could take at this point. I suggest we get back to answering the question of why we don’t live fully until faced with death.
What is the biggest reason for people not “living life fully?” If living life fully means, taking chances, growing, exploring and experiencing as much of what’s out there as possible, along with leaving your best mark on the World, what comes to mind for not having this come to be? First thing for me is FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of succeeding, F-E-A-R. What are the most prescribed drugs now-a-days? Mood-altering; antidepressants and anti-anxiety. This spectrum is ruling most of our lives because we don’t like how we feel or how someone else is behaving so we drug them. Now, to ward off the onslaught of angry emails, let me say this, YES, SOMETIMES these Rxs are necessary, but listen to this: MOST OF THE TIME, they are not and can be fixed with diet, exercise and rational emotive behavioral aids and counseling. I bet you wouldn’t believe that almost every case of anxiety and/or depression I’ve had in my office was taken care of with the above-named approaches and acupuncture. I’ve helped hundreds of people with these complaints over my 20 year career.
Now, having said that, back to fear. It can be gripping, paralyzing, staggering and can catapult us into a snowball of more fear. We may lose our confidence. We may even lose our sense of self…or at least get lost on the path to finding our selves. Let’s check in with Socrates and see what he’d ask at this point. Oh, yes, of course. He is asking: “What is at the root of fear?” and “What does fear lead to?” Hmmm, I always thought of fear as a base emotion, so I will defer to you to help me answer that one. In terms of what fear leads to, my experience tells me that anger, rage, hatred, frustration, worry, grief, sadness, resentment, apathy, disconnection and more are resultant from unresolved fears. So, what do these emotions, if left unchecked, lead to? They often lead to social and personality disorders or at the very least, becoming stagnant and not allowing the Universe to play in harmony.
What do I mean by playing in harmony? Think of the Universe as a giant organism or instrument that everything is a part of and connected. When we think positive thoughts, we are met with positive resonance. It is like a vibrating instrument and in fact, this is proven in quantum physics. Play a harmonious chord and the vibrations come back to you harmoniously. Discordant chords, when struck, play back as discord. It shouldn’t take much thought to confirm this. How many negative people do you find happy or positive to be around? How many positive people lead you to a dark place? (dangerously close to wanting to stop this article right now, wink, wink)
Are there other factors that lead us to choose a life that is “not fully lived?” Sure, a sense of duty is one. People “should” themselves all the time. Rationalization is one of the biggest obstacles along our life path. Some people are experts at it. And think about what it means to be an expert. The ego will not let go of what we do so incredibly, be it a good thing or a bad thing. Neural pathways are created to make us do these things we repeat over and over again, even better. These short-cuts are created in our brains all the time, but instead of creating them from love, compassion and a desire to live life fully, we create them out of fear and our multitude of responses to fear.
Every single one of us could benefit from being under the care of a qualified Practitioner of Natural Medicine and/or the Mental Health Field. Many have vilified or demonized these fields as being for the “nut jobs,” or crazy people out there when in actuality, the most actualized and secure people on the Planet have openly walked these paths so that they may better learn who they are and shed the obstacles that prevent them from fully engaging with the World around them.
We are all connected. We all have the power to create. There is no doubt that love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance and gratitude, when practiced daily, lead to more fulfilled lives and actually being more connected to everything around you. To live otherwise is limiting and to pretend this doesn’t apply to you is delusional. I’ll check in with Socrates one last time. He asks: “Why would anyone choose anything other than a life worth living?” Don’t wait until death stares you in the face. Live now. Ask for help. Make and attack a bucket list. Call that friend or family member you’ve held a grudge with or are waiting for them to apologize. Shed your guilt, your shame, your anger and your fear and feel the lightness of being that follows. Give of yourself. Be kind to others and L-I-V-E.