We often repeat cliche aphorisms, truisms about life, that we take for granted and do not question. One of these statements is that life is short. Is it really that short? Living life is the longest thing each of us will ever do. The Stoic philosopher Seneca in his essay “On the shortness of life” wrote that life is not short. It is long enough to do many great things. It is what we choose to do with life that is the key issue in most peoples lives. So what are you spending your life on? Do you spend your life pleasing people who don’t appreciate you? Do you spend your life distracting yourself from the daily grind? Are spending life in a metaphorical hamster wheel, just trying to keep up?
There is a certain amount of social conditioning that tells us to get an education, get a good job, find a partner, and build security for your retirement. That is the smart thing to do. In between, there is going on vacation to recharge your batteries and having fun on the weekends. We take breaks in our day by entertaining ourselves and occasionally escape through alcohol, recreational drugs or some other form means of altering the chemical state of our brains. This is not a judgement of these things but if life is really so short do you want to spend your time escaping your life? If those who put a lot of effort into escaping life worked as hard at changing what they didn’t like as they did on their distractions a long-term solution would surely present itself.
Perhaps the most important question in life is: what is worth spending your life on? Is it worth spending your life in the pursuit of money? It might be because money allows you to do things that helps you to learn and grow, but accumulating wealth just to keep score on how successful you are in life may be an empty accomplishment when your reach the end. Is it worth your time raising children, getting an education, trying to make a difference in the world? Is it worth your time having fun, indulging in life pleasures, travelling?
No one can give you the answer but once you decide, act on the changes needed. A good exercise to keep yourself on track might be that at the end of the week review what you did with your time, hour by hour. You can even do this daily. I also do this kind of review at the end of each calendar year. Start to question your choices and routines. Living a more fulfilling life may mean drastic changes for some but for others very simple changes are all that is necessary. Start by asking yourself how you want to live, integrate this into your philosophy and then take small steps toward change. It is never too late to start living a meaningful life. When you do life will be long enough to accomplish many great things.