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What it means to “live life to the fullest”

Living life to the fullest means continually reaching out for newer, richer, deeper, life-changing experiences. It means using those experiences as a means for personal growth and pushing the boundaries of yourself mentally, spiritually, and intellectually for the betterment of yourself and the world at large.

Living life to the fullest means taking an active role in your own development. It means steering the rudder of your own life and taking advantage of your unique and powerful potential as a person.

It’s about how the things you do in your life motivate & inspire others to do something motivating & inspiring in theirs — and, if you’re lucky, leave a legacy that long outlasts you.

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.” — Steve Saint

To live life to the fullest means to maximize your capacity to experience what life has to offer around you. This, in turn, expands your consciousness resulting in even more opportunities to have an even broader range of life experiences.

To live life to the fullest means facing your fears with bravery, an open mind, and a lack of prejudice. It means making the most of what you have and never settling for less than the life you are capable of living. It means being truly alive and awake to life and not asleep in life’s waiting room.

There is a reason why Neale Donald Walsch said:

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

The key to living life to the fullest is opening your mind and stretching beyond your comfort zone. Because if you’re not being challenged or intentionally pushing yourself beyond the realm of things that are familiar to you, then the experiences you’re having are no longer changing you.

If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone.” — John C. Maxwell

Anything you do that limits your ability to experience the breadth of life reduces your ability to live life to the fullest. While this can include doing things that have an adverse effect on your health, it can also mean living in such a way that your lifestyle restricts your ability to have new experiences.

While living life to the fullest can, at times, involves living dangerously (in a life-threatening fashion), if you’re living in such a consistent fashion that your life expectancy is greatly reduced as a result, then this is simply thrill seeking. If the point of living life to the fullest is to maximize your capacity for taking advantage of what life has to offer you, then this involves maximizing the length of your life as well.

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” — Diane Ackerman

While living life to the fullest often involves travel in order to experience new places, languages, or cultures, it isn’t a requirement. It is quite possible to push your personal boundaries simply by reading, performing a creative activity, or taking charge of one’s education — all of which can be done in the comfort of one’s home.

But simply “being busy”, having a full schedule, and living a life of routine is not living life to the fullest.

Working during the week and partying it up on the weekends is not living life to the fullest.

Going on a tour guided, everything-is-taken-care-of vacation, or a pre-packaged “adventure” every year is not living life to the fullest.

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” — Dan Stevens

While living life to the fullest is about collecting experiences, it isn’t simply about knocking items off a bucket list. And it isn’t a competition to “do the most things before death.” It is about acquiring strength and wisdom from the challenges one has overcome and having experiences that alter how one perceives the world.

Living inside your comfort zone is one of the surest ways to know you’re not living life to the fullest. And as long as you are comfortable, you are not growing.

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” – Dean Karnazes

If you really want to live life to the fullest, make a habit of always reaching for new experiences that push you to grow. And when you’re growing, and your growth is having a positive influence on others, you’ll know you’re truly maximizing your life.

Related:

What I’ve learned about determination & commitment

“Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.” — Robert Brault

20 things I’ve learned about determination & commitment in 333 days.

1. It means focusing on your heart’s desire(s) and not giving up on your goal(s) when you are forced beyond your comfort zone or when inevitable setbacks or disappointments happen.

2. It means focusing on changing the things you can and not complaining about or focusing on the things you cannot.

3. It means taking action and doing what is hard & necessary to get things done and not expecting others to do it for you.

4. It means facing your fears and battling doubts, but refusing to give in to either.

5. It means making mistakes, falling down, or suffering embarrassment — but learning from these experiences and using them to push forward towards your goal — not letting them weaken your resolve or overcome you.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” — Calvin Coolidge

6. It means taking steps every single day, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, and no matter how small your steps may be, to move towards your heart’s desires.

7. It means focusing on the bigger picture — making sacrifices and delaying gratification in order to invest in where you intend to go.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

8. It means letting go of trying to please or be “friends” with everyone.

9. It means potentially (likely) stirring things up, causing a “ruckus”, drawing complaints, or attracting “haters” due to your actions — and pushing forward regardless.

10. It means dealing with the criticism from friends, family, colleagues, competitors, or anyone at any time who may cross your path and judge you or laugh at you or tell you “you can’t” or “you won’t”, but not letting it stand in the way of you and your goal.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” — Gail Devers

11. It means living with integrity — sticking up for your beliefs & values and being honest with yourself and others — even when it’s uncomfortable or your views or goals appear unpopular.

12. It means constantly seeking ways to improve yourself and your “craft” and better ways to do whatever is necessary to achieve your goal.

13. It means not giving up when a door is slammed in your face or you are told “no” 99 times — instead, you focus on finding alternative paths to your goal — some way, somehow to get to the person behind the 100th door that says “yes”.

14. It means if you are offended, betrayed, or belittled by people who are close to you or you discover others working against you, not letting it derail you from reaching your ultimate goal.

15. It means continually and deliberately reaching beyond your comfort zone and doing what others won’t in order to achieve your goal.

“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” — Thomas Foxwell Buxton

16. It means understanding both your strengths and your weaknesses — and maximizing one while trying to minimize the other.

17. It means fueling your own fire and being a significant source of your own motivation — utilizing your passion for what you’re doing to achieve your goal.

18. It means finding a way, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable what you’re doing may be, to enjoy and learn from the process & journey — to live in the present and appreciate what you’re doing or any positive impact it may have on others.

19. It means believing in yourself and a goal that may appear “unrealistic” or against the odds to many — but knowing deep down that it’s not only possible, but that you can do it.

20. It means living up to your own standards.

Giving up is the easiest thing to do. In fact, many times people are happy to accept quitting as long as one appeared to put in some effort — even if it wasn’t their best — “It’s ok, you did the best you could.”

Some may even tempt you with, “No one will think any less of you for quitting.”, but…

If you’re truly going after your heart’s desires and you truly believe in yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish, then it doesn’t matter what other people think because you’re not doing it for them — you’re doing it for you.

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” — William Feather

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