Do We Need Intense Experiences in order to Value Life?
An accident, an illness… saying goodbye to someone you love, or realizing that someone isn’t coming back. In moments like these, time stops. Suddenly we realize that we are on this earth for only a brief time and life is fleeting. Could it be that we don’t value life, even though it’s all that we have?
Our routines take over and drag us along. We want more, though sometimes we aren’t sure what that means. Sometimes we neglect the relationships in our life that are supposed to be precious, and tie ourselves up with cords that make it hard to breathe. So often we get used to things plodding along and get used to the comfort of a house, forgetting that it’s also a home.
Habituation: is it emotional anesthesia?
Habituation is a learned habit that makes us respond less often and less intensely to stimuli that we experience repeatedly. We stop paying attention to things that we take for granted. We lose sight of the importance of being wise, or the blessing of having the company of those we love.
But sometimes a storm comes along and wipes out everything. It knocks down walls and throws a wrench in your way of life. It might sound crazy, but sometimes we need extreme situations in order to appreciate life. In these intense moments, you appreciate what you have. You realize how absurd it was not to value life and pay attention to what you have.
We know that life is finite, but most of the people who I’ve seen squander their lives are afraid to lose it. They fear the fragility of “here today, tomorrow who knows.” I don’t mean that you shouldn’t make any plans or think about the future.
What I mean is that life is today. It’s happening now. And if thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow makes you neglect the importance of today, maybe you’re missing out on life.
Appreciating life doesn’t mean zero routines
Appreciating life doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to have any routines. Nor does it mean you have to seek out extreme emotions to get your heart pumping. What it means is to open your eyes, pay attention to the little things, and take advantage of the time you have.
It means being aware of who you are and what you have, and then fighting to keep it. And it means paying attention to what doesn’t work so you can fix it. That way, tomorrow will be a better day, a day more worthy of your appreciation. Valuing life means giving meaning to your time, and understanding that your dreams can make a debut anytime.
Someone told me recently how much she regretted having paid so much attention to her obligations. She told me that she felt that she squandered so much time by working too late. She regretted those days where obligations won and she couldn’t even see her kids.
I’m writing this because there are things that don’t deserve your commitment. They don’t deserve it, because they aren’t that important. I’m also writing this because there are things that are so important that it is wrong to take them for granted. It doesn’t matter how often they happen or how much we feel that they’ll always be there. Don’t take them for granted.
“In life there are no winners or losers, there is no failure nor triumph. In life you learn, you grow, you discover. You write, you erase, and you re-write. Things spin, unravel, and wind up again.”
-Ana C. Blum-
Remember to breathe, listen to yourself, and hear what’s around you. Open your eyes to the little things, every day. Don’t underestimate the importance of a beautiful afternoon. Take advantage of your time, and invest in it, since you can never get it back.
Stop and think about it: time never stops moving. But there’s still time left, and it belongs to you. Time is passing and you have to realize it. Make sure that you have intense experiences so that you know how to value life, because life is inherently valuable.