Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of “living life to the fullest.” I’m starting to feel like all the articles I read seem to imply that living life to the fullest involves one or more of the following: travelling to new countries, going on adventures like climbing to the top of a really tall mountain, meeting strangers in cool places, trying new foods – you get the idea. But the more I think about “living life to the fullest,” the more I feel uncomfortable with how it’s commonly portrayed.
The way I see it, it’s implied that if you spend your entire life in your small town, you’re not living your life to the fullest. It’s implied that if you take the same path to work every day and never take vacations, you’re not living your life to the fullest. It’s implied that if you’re not taking certain chances to go somewhere, to try something new, you’re not living your life to the fullest.
But why should that be true?
What if you spend your entire life in your small town, working hard every single day to build a business in that town because that’s your dream, and you’re 100% happy because you’ve achieved that dream? What if you walk the same path to work every day, stopping to talk to that same street vendor on your way every time, and those conversations are what make life meaningful for you? What if the reason you work every day and never travel is because you’re beyond happy with what you’re doing, where you are, and who’s around you?
I’m dissatisfied with the implications behind “living your life to the fullest” understood by our generation and society. I think that the current image behind this phrase fails to acknowledge individual preferences and invalidates the perfectly valid status quo. It’s one thing if someone is dissatisfied by his day-to-day life, but what about the person who not only is satisfied but also is getting maximum utility from living his life as he always has?
I want to define, for myself, what it means to “live life to the fullest.” And I believe that is how it should be: for every individual, only he can define what exactly it means to live his life to the fullest. As I use this blog to pursue my definition of success, I hope most of all that I stay true to myself in these efforts. I want to live my life to the fullest by continually reaching for those virtues that I value most, even when I’m oh-so-frequently failing to do so. And if I feel inclined to stick in an “adventure” or two to feel fulfilled, I will do so – but I want to do it for me, not because that’s what media tells me I’m missing out on.
At the end of my all-time-forever-favorite book, Little Women, Marmee says, “Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!” What I love most about Little Women is that the characters seem to be living the most simple, ordinary lives – yet are so fulfilled in character, values, life; the final quote by the girls’ mother is a perfect way to portray the immense happiness found in their “ordinary” lives.
Living life to the fullest can mean such different things to everyone. In consciously realizing this, I feel so free to be true to myself in pursuing what exactly this means for me!