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“We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, ‘here and now’ without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point-blank.” ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset

What makes you feel the most alive? When is life the juiciest for you?

In our local newspaper a few weeks ago a columnist wrote about this very topic. He concluded that, “at the very least the purpose of life is learning how to live.”

When do you feel most alive?

It’s particularly pertinent for those of us who long to make a difference. . . . a difference in our own families, in our day-to-day in work life, in our communities and ultimately the planet.

On the surface this question can feel silly—we are alive with every breath we take, so what’s the big deal if I feel alive because, well, I already am?

Yet, the author invited his readers, and I’m inviting you, to consider something deeper, bone-marrow deep, with his question: When do you feel most alive? Most engaged with living? What gets in the way of that experience?

Is it only a useful question when you’re feeling good?

You know, when all’s right in your world. The kids are great. Work is going fine. It’s sunny outside and our getaway vacation is just around the corner.

Do you feel alive then?

What about when things are off, just ever so slightly, yet off nonetheless?

You know, those times when somehow you can’t quite catch up with yourself or anyone else? The kids are stir-crazy. Tensions and tempers are on the rise at work with new projects and unreasonable deadlines. Vacation’s been shortened and may not happen as a result. Mehhh.

Do you feel alive then?   Chances are good you don’t register those as feeling alive, yet those experiences are part of feeling alive too, just not our most pleasant ones.

On our 24/7 world, with the push of go-go-go, we often become numb to our experiences of feeling alive because we’re always rushing around. Or, too busy. Or, we seek out new ways to up the ante of experience, fueling our addiction to the adrenaline rush.

The sad part is that we’re often not aware that we’re caught up in this cycle. We’re simply going along, living our lives yet not feeling alive, engaged.

 

Common Symptoms

Below are a few of the common symptoms of ‘not feeling alive’ that can become obstacles to living purposefully:

  • A chronic feeling of overwhelm with too many plates spinning
  • Difficulty sleeping: too little, too much and tired, very tired
  • A rushing quality in our daily lives, constantly running, resulting in a low grade level of anxiety
  • Not feeling a sense of connection with other people

 

The good news is that if you are feeling any of the above, that mere fact—that you are and you notice that you are, provides an opening to shift into greater aliveness.

Want to make a difference in the world? Pay attention to when you feel most alive—even if it’s the uncomfortable kind. It’s in the aliveness that you can take that next step toward living fully, urgently right now.

First stop, pause and reflect on the question—when do I feel alive? You can start right now.

Next, simply attend to your physical body. Notice your felt sense of being alive. Observe sensations around your breathing. Notice any tensions you’re holding and breathe into them. Settle into the aware knowing of physically being alive.

Next, pause to observe what you’re thinking now in response to this question–when do you feel most alive and engaged in your life? What answers come up for you?

Then, notice your own emotional response. Allow yourself to fully tap into that personal connection of what matters most to you. What’s on point here, on purpose?

Finally, write your musings down in a notebook or on a sticky note. Reflect on them over the next week. Notice if they’re connected to experiences you’re having with colleagues, children, friends. Or, how they may be tied to things you love to do, have wanted to explore, or the contributions you want to make in your world, but haven’t yet lived into.

Lastly, take a breath. Reflect. Breathe again. Take the next right action. Live on purpose.