Ultimately, what resides at the heart of any life crisis is the sudden and painful awareness that our time on earth is numbered. Whether it’s the first signs of grayness or balding, marriage, the death of your parents or even the death of one of your favorite public figures, you won’t be able to hide from the reality that you’re aging. In effect, every second begins to count much more than it ever did before. You start to ask yourself, is this the job I want to be doing for the rest of my life? Is this the partner for me? In his book Motivation and Personality, the famed psychologist Abraham Maslow suggests that once all our basic needs like food and shelter are met we begin to long for higher needs such as love and self-actualization. The existential confusion one feels at times of crisis are deeply tied to whether we have achieved or failed to achieve these higher needs. According to Maslow, “Discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint and a poet must write if he is to be ultimately with himself. What a man can be, he must be.” But of course, the choices of what a man can be in our society stretches before us like a star-spotted night sky. The options are as limitless as your potential. And so, considering the fact that we are all going to die eventually, what can we do now to make our life more meaningful? How can we lessen the inherent limitations of living in a mortal body? For one thing, remember to never deny your mortality. You can get all the plastic surgery you want and do nothing but read vampire novels all day, but don’t do it to escape the truth. This will only hurt you in the end. With every fork in the road think of your inevitable death and consider the importance of any decision in light of that fact. An awareness of our mortality can be an incredible tool to help us judge what is and what isn’t important in life. Face your fate and wake up every day wholly focused on what you can do today to enrich your life. Having said that I would like to share with you the best piece of advice I have ever received: Set a goal for yourself – write it down and stick it to your bathroom mirror so that you can contemplate it while you brush your teeth in the morning. Read it over and think of something you can do today that will bring you closer to achieving our goal. It can be as simple as writing a paragraph for that novel you’ve always planned to write. As long as you’re doing something that’s all that matters. I can’t overemphasize the importance of actions over thoughts. Thoughts are powerful only in that they inspire our actions. Whenever you can, try to turn your passive thoughts into actions. Do you like to watch Dancing with the Stars, Runway Challenge or Sunday night football? Go out there and take some creative lessons, or go out and play a game of football. Just taking this small step can have a profound effect on your life.
PC: Jacquelinge Rivera on Flickr