My Nana passed away this month, after a long fought battle with Alzheimer’s. She was an incredible woman and she accomplished so much over her lifetime. She was a nurse, a mother of six, owned her own successful health club, and even went back to school and became a lawyer in her 50’s. Her passing has been incredibly painful but also, in many ways, has ignited within me a new passion for living. You see, my Nana lived her life in a way that exuded a zest for life. She was always dancing, singing, smiling, and loving on those around her. In fact, she was sometimes referred to as “The Dancing Queen” after the Abba song from one of her favorite movies, Mamma Mia. She took advantage of everything life had to offer.
My Nana at a party for her Health Club
Reflecting on her legacy made me consider how I wanted to be remembered. It made me question what type of life I want to live for myself. In my case, I do not believe that our consciousness continues on in another place after we die. I do not believe in god, heaven or hell. For this reason, life and death have a different meaning and focus for me than they might for others. Since I believe that this life is all we are given, I want to take advantage of what this life has to offer and I want to live in a way that brings fulfillment and happiness. I want to have a vast variety of experiences woven in, to enrich the fabric of my life as a whole. I want to make the lives of those around me better. I want to love and be loved.
I firmly believe that in order to achieve the goals i have set for my life, it is essential to live intentionally. Living intentionally can be summarized as being thoughtful about the choices you make in life in order to have more satisfaction and fewer regrets. There are many ways to achieve a more intentional and fulfilling life, but here are a few tips that I feel are helpful.
First and foremost on this list is to say yes to new experiences. Trying new things is critical to finding new passions. Saying yes to going on that hike with your friends at 6 am may not feel like something you want to do initially but, even if that experience itself does not become a new passion for you, it may introduce you to something that does. Even if you do not do that new thing again, you will have accomplished something that you might never have done otherwise. In my experience, searching out experiences and saying yes to new opportunities is the most surefire way to jumpstart a passion for life.
My second piece of advice would be to think long and hard about priorities. Once you are able to identify what is important to you, you can begin to live in a way that reflects these values. It is difficult to live intentionally without taking into consideration what you would like your life to look like. Living without direction or intention makes it easy to float through life and end up in a place that is not your ideal. You do not want to look back and wish you had taken more advantage of the time you were given. Identifying and working to live in a way that reflects your priorities and values is a wonderful way to bring more fulfillment into your life.
My final piece of advice is to find joy and/or enrichment in as many places as your can. Not everything in life can be enjoyable, but there is an opportunity for learning and growth to be found in nearly every experience. Do your best to find the joy in every place that you can, but if you can’t find joy in a circumstance, try to find the lesson instead. You may not always succeed, but the process of looking for enrichment will serve you in developing the skill of intentional living.
I am so thankful to my Nana for all the ways in which she has touched my life. I am, however, particularly grateful for the final gift she has given me. I can forever hold her memory in my heart and learn from her wonderful example of a life lived with passion, exuberance, resilience, kindness, fun, and love. It is a beautiful thing to be able to positively impact the lives of those you cross paths with over the course of your lifespan. My Nana’s legacy will continue to shine through the lives of those who knew her and loved her. For my part, I will continue to live my life to the fullest, just like she taught me.