In a speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University, he spoke of a quote that had impacted his life. The quote went something like, “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you will most certainly be right.”
Steve Jobs said that because of this quote, every morning he asked himself, “If this was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? If the answer is no”, Steve said, “I change what I am doing.” He went on to plead with his audience of graduates that “there is no reason not to follow your heart. Your life is limited so don’t lead someone else’s life.”
These words were re-iterated in Oprah’s final show. In her parting words to her audience, Oprah, speaking about her 25 years with the show said, “What I know from this experience with you is that we are all called. Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it…..and that is what I want for all of you – to live from the heart of yourself.”
Author, philosopher, and theologian Howard Thurman talked about the importance of making music in the heart. In one of my favorite quotes he said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
And so I ask you as I ask myself, what makes you come alive? Is it making soup for your ailing neighbor? Is it a hike in the woods or along the beach where you can feel the wind on your skin and the earth under your feet? Is it tending a garden of vegetables or flowers that add beauty, nourishment, and sustainability to your neighborhood? Is it reading inspiring books that help you tap into your own greatness and possibility? Is it a shared smile with your co-worker?
If you are like me, it is easy at the end of a long day to reach for something that dulls me or gives me a sense of false support – like caffeine or food I don’t need. But what if we chose instead to reach for and cultivate our passion? What if each day we made a choice in even the tiniest, fleeting moments we can call our own, to vote for something that increases our vitality and well-being. Even if all we have is standing in line at the post office or doing dirty dishes, we can cultivate thoughts that renew us, rather than drain us.
My experience has been that when I am in the place of well-being, I am automatically in a place of seeing the sacredness and interconnectedness of all things. It is only when I dull myself that life itself becomes dull for me and apathy becomes a friend.
This first practice of caring for ourselves then is to live from our passion.
Next week part 3 – Practice Unreasonable Kindness