Do You Work To Live – Or Live To Work?

Lots of people have learned how to achieve in life. Only a few have learned how to enjoy life.

Have you ever looked back at a time in your life and thought, “I was really happy then. It’s too bad I didn’t realize it so I could have enjoyed it more?” Probably. Too many people miss the “good times” because they live in the future or let stress get the best of them.

Don’t do that! If you spend too much time worrying about the future, planning for the future, or dreaming about the future, you’ll ruin your present. In fact, you won’t even have a life; you’ll just have an existence.

Don’t be like one woman I knew. She wrote: “First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now, I am dying…and suddenly I realize that I forgot to live.”

So live in the present, but don’t let stress get the best of you. Just learn how to C-A-L-M your stress so you can enjoy life.

C stands for CONFESSION. If, for example, you owe someone an apology, do it. If you’ve been rationalizing some dysfunctional behavior of yours, stop it. Confess it and get past it. You’ve got to have a clear conscience if you want a stress-free life.

Then go on to A. A stands for ACCEPTANCE. You’ve got to accept what you cannot change. If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

Be like four-year old Rebecca. She was visiting her grandparents in Hilton Head, South Carolina. One day an oar washed up on the beach. During her next visit a year later, another oar washed up. Later that week, Rebecca was swimming in the neighborhood pool when another girl swam up and asked in a superior tone of voice, “Do you have a boat?” Rebecca replied, “No, but we have two oars and we’re waiting for a boat.” That’s acceptance.

L stands for LISTENING. Listen to your body. It’s the first place stress will show up, and your body will let you know that it’s stressed. Pay attention, and then do something to reduce the stress.

Lastly, M stands for MEANING. When the psychiatrist Victor Frankl observed our affluent society, he said we “have enough to live by, but not enough to live for.” He said we seemed to have “the means, but no meaning.” On the other hand, if you have faith, family, work, whatever gives you meaning, you’ll find yourself enjoying life no matter what the circumstances.

Action:  Ask yourself, are you doing a better job of making a living or making a life? If it’s the former, choose one part of the C-A-L-M formula and do it this week. You’ll enjoy life just a little bit more as a result.