Not everyone gets the chance to wake up to a new day. When I open my eyes at sunrise and realize I am able to put two feet on the floor, the first thing I do is to give thanks. The second is to ask myself how to make the gift of this precious new day count.
Sometimes we get so involved with the practical tasks of daily living that eventually (and often not until it is too late), we realize that our life has been swept away by triviality. Sure, we set short-term daily living goals all the time (grocery shopping, dropping off at the dry cleaners, etc) but rarely do we formulate overall goals that come together as a coherent life plan fueled by purpose and meaning. A life without a blueprint driven by your values, passions, and talents, is a life poorly lived. It is life that neither gives back nor measures up to your potential capability.
Often when we encounter a roadblock on the way to attaining our objectives, we retreat into frustration instead of letting those challenges strengthen our determination. Our vision fades away as we get swallowed back up into the hectic sea of details that our daily existence has evolved into. But the problem is, living a life without a sense of direction ensures that the time of your life will be over before it registers that you never quite got to fulfill your dreams, passions, and talents. Then it will be too late. We all have what it takes to do great things and use our lives to better humanity. Perfunctory living-that is living superficially–robs us blindly of that chance.
The other antithesis of a quality life is recursive living, for example setting the same goals over and over again without ever doing what it takes to follow through to obtain them. How many times have you heard stories from people who year after year moan about wanting to lose weight, write a book, or volunteer for a cause they are passionate about, yet never quite realize any of those dreams. You might be someone who knows that your relationships need an overhaul, and yet you keep spending time with the same negative people who make you feel lousy. Maybe you worry about credit card debt, yet refuse to relinquish the spending habits that got you there in the first place. Frustration is an uncomfortable feeling, so the typical remedy is to avoid what makes us feel bad. We distract ourselves, so as not to be continually reminded of our failed attempts—or NON-attempts– to reach our goals and become all that we know that we should become. What a waste of valuable time and energy!
The reality is, your life and mine, are far too brief to waste even one day falling short of being all that we could be—vibrant, happy, productive beings. In lieu of distracting ourselves after stumbling, what about a pause for self-reflection, an examination of our failures, and a regrouping of our energies that will propel us to success? Of course this requires that we plough forward through our pain of the past and our fear of the future. It requires that we put an end to aimless living. It requires that we reflect, come up with a life plan, and then TAKE ACTION, upon the dawning of each new day.
The life of Leonardo da Vinci is the ultimate prototype for what a human being is capable of achieving when every bit of our potential is developed and put to good use. What you may not know, however, is that Leonardo was also a very deep thinker, who amidst the thousands of pages of notes he took daily, also devoted a small section to his philosophy on how to live.
It was evident that he had an insatiable hunger for knowledge and turning that knowledge into productivity consumed his every thought and action. So much so that his influence is unparalleled centuries later, in science, art, architecture, engineering, machinery, aviation, philosophy, medicine, anatomy and more. Leonardo was out there using his energy to make his life matter. Purpose –driven action is the only way to achieve one’s goals and be successful. Of course we have to tend to the mundane activities of living too, but Leonardo refused to give la quotidianita’, the power to distract him from his higher vision.
“Leonardo da Vinci”, wrote Sigmund Freud, “ was like a man who awoke too early in the darkness, while the others were all still asleep.”
We all need to stop sleepwalking through our time here on earth, and make our lives become an example that inspires others.
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
Leonardo da Vinci
What action will YOU take today to keep on track with your life’s purpose? I invite you to comment below and tell me about your journey. Or drop me a line: RaeleenMautner@gmail.com.
Article copyright© Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. 2016