Halfway through undergraduate, I finally had to pick a major. I resigned myself to the fact that there just wouldn’t be time in life to pursue everything I am interested in (eventually I chose to move to the College of Health Sciences so I could dissect a cadaver). As I was figuring this out, one of my mentors asked me to quantify how many lifetimes it would take me to be satisfied. At the time I said 5.
Since then I’ve become a little obsessed with the idea of fitting 5 lifetimes into one. For a while I thought this would mean constant activity to “fit it all in”, but this typical American busyness actually diminishes life rather that adding to it. What I’ve come up with are three complementary strategies to live more while feeling less busy.
1) First, stay biologically young. Chronological age is meaningless, and you can functionally double your lifespan by staying active longer, so start now by exercising, eating, sleeping, and learning appropriately. You will only age as fast as you let your body and mind deteriorate from neglect/abuse.
2) Second, accelerate your experiential aging by talking less and doing more. Start by deciding what experiences you truly value, then pursue those meaningful activities and run from shallow time-wasters. If you decide what to do based on how it will look on Instagram (or on your CV, or on a first date…), Don’t Do It! If you are doing something you would still do even if you could never tell another person about it, Do It! Every decision you make is a declaration of who you are becoming. Supplant the appearance of greatness with actually living a meaningful life.
3) Finally, and key to everything, is to be here now. Years seem to accelerate past us as we age because we lose the ability to live fully present in the moment.This is as booming a topic in modern positive psychology as it is in ancient wisdom books, so I won’t add my two cents.
Posts like these come across as a tad preachy, I know. I want to end with the confession that often the topics I write about are the ones I personally struggle with on a regular basis. In general, don’t take advice from someone who hasn’t done what they are telling you to do, but on the fundamental themes of life, we all have something unique to contribute. If you have anything to add from your own life experience, please respond in the comments.