One Key Question to Live Your Most Alivealicious Life
Take a quick peek at the Highly Scientific Vitality Spectrum, and make a note about where you happen to fall today:
Feeling a bit toe-taggy as of late?
Feeling like life is one giant carnival full of funnel cakes and clowns (the happy clowns, not the weird ones)?
Feeling somewhere in between?
Researchers have developed the Subjective Vitality Scale to determine the degree to which we are alive and kicking or dead and buried. I am a big fan of empirically based psychological constructs that can be sliced and diced via complicated statistical regression models 😑😑😑, but at some point we’ve gotta use our street smarts instead of our book smarts. Here’s where today’s post takes it to the streets, friends.
THE ONE question (with a follow up question or two because I can’t resist)
Here is the fill-in-the-blank question that holds so much potential it hurts:
“I feel most alive when _____________.”
Wait, are you side-eyeing me? Are you raising your eyebrow at me? Are you shunning this opportunity to live the liveliest version of your life because you think the question is too basic?
I urge you to reconsider your cynicism. Don’t underestimate the simplicity of this question, because like most still waters, this one runs deep, Scornful Sandy!
What one thing makes you feel undeniably alive?
What one thing makes you feel so alive you just might burst at the seams when you’re doing it?
What one thing makes you feel like Liquid Life (I’m totally going to trademark that) is coursing through your veins?
What one thing energizes you and makes you feel like life is So Much Better when you’re doing it . . . and maybe even for a period of time afterwards?
I ask this question when I deliver workshops, and I’m always inspired by examples:
“Writing my screenplay in the early hours of the morning”
“Traveling to a new country and immersing myself in the culture”
“Closing a big deal at work” (it’s possible that guy was sucking up to his boss who was also in the room)
“Successfully tucking my kids into bed and then sharing a glass of wine with my partner by the fire”
“Finishing a big, complicated project at work”
“Decorating birthday cakes”
“H%^@(g $@*” (use your imagination)
“Getting all dressed up and going out for dinner and then dancing”
“Solving the unsolvable problems that my colleagues find frustrating”
“Walking through the woods and noticing new birds and plants”
“Building/ refinishing furniture for family and friends”
“Rescuing animals on my property” (OMG I had so many questions about that one)
“Making a huge meal for my huge family”
“Pretty much anything creative”
There isn’t a right or wrong about what lights the flame in your furnace of life. I notice that people worry about being judged for their “most alive” thing, and let’s agree to not do that. Some find that work stuff lights them up, and then they feel guilty that it’s not a family thing (or vice versa). You get to be a greedy bastard if you want to! (As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, because if it does, we’re going to judge you HARD.) Own the (ethical) things that infuse you with life and dismiss what anyone thinks or says about it.
Step 1: Look at your answer to the fill-in-the-blank question: “I feel most alive when _____________.”
Step 2: Ask yourself how often you’ve been doing the thing you said most livens you up. Are you happy with that frequency?
Step 3: DO MORE OF IT. Do you have this thing scheduled into your calendar on the near-term horizon?
The dead/alive gap
This is absolutely not rocket science, is it? And yet this is where the gap exists between our desires to feel like we’ve shown up to play and that disappointing feeling of “life was left unlived” at the end.
If your “most alive” thing was surfing, for example, and you live in Boise, Idaho, well. You’re admittedly in a pickle. As the head Memento Mori Cheerleader, my instinct is to gently encourage you to IMMEDIATELY MOVE YOUR ASS TO THE WEST COAST, DUDE . . . while another option would be to deliberately plan regular vacations to surf-y places on the planet. I’m here to tell you that IT IS NOT ENOUGH to do the one thing that makes you feel MOST alive once in a blue moon, like going on surf trips every couple of years. That hurts my heart to imagine for you, deep into my ventricles. And I know you feel that heart-hurt, too. We need to get you surfing. This is a matter of life or death (death in this context as the “dying while you’re living” kind, which some of us might argue is sadder than the dead-and-gone-death).
If your “most alive” thing is a bit more accessible, like the birthday decorating example above, I’m here to challenge you on the frequency thing. You’re doing it four times a year for your family? And is that enough for you? If it is, that’s amazing! If there might be a way to fit more in, could that make you feel Even More Alive? Maybe you decorate cakes not just for birthdays, but for random Thursdays? I’d totally eat an elaborately decorated Happy Thursday cake! (Gluten-free, please.) (With extra frosting.)
I came to the realization about 18 months ago that speaking in front of groups is my oxygen. This “aliveness awareness” was cemented when I had the opportunity to deliver my TEDx talk in front of 700 people last spring . . . I left the stage feeling like I had been resuscitated . . . brought back to life in a way I didn’t even know I needed. I give myself a C grade for actively building this part of my business since then, and in typing this to you now, I want to join you in the pursuit of a life that’s juiced up by jumper cables. I’ll be accountable to aliveness if you will?
We only get so many Mondays to live. Not every day needs to be carnival-esque (that would be exhausting anyways, and at some point the clowns would get creepy), but we just might maximize our experience of being alive by identifying what makes us FEEL most energized, and DOING those things more often.
What would your life be like if you did your ONE THING even 9% more? 15% more? 18% more? Life happens one moment at a time, and you have more control over your discretionary time than you might realize. Design your days. Close that dead/alive gap. Live with amped-up aliveness. Let’s breathe even more life back into our lives.
P.S.: You, me, Instagram. Let’s make it happen for 2023.
P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!