When Are You Fully Alive?

Young fitness couple running together in urban area

Suzanna and I recently joined a small group study and last night there was a fascinating question for the group on the table: 

When are you (or what makes you) fully alive?

It was the first time for this group to convene. With few exceptions, we’d known one another about 15 minutes. So when the leader noted the (yikes – I have to go deep this early?!?) fear in the eyes of several in the group, he pulled it back, opting to go with a much easier question: What was your favorite vacation? Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, shared a (superficial) fun memory, and we moved on.

But that didn’t get rid of the question. It only temporarily pushed it to the side. At least for me, it didn’t take long to resurface, as I woke up this morning thinking about it. What am I doing when I feel fully alive? For the poets and painters in the group, we might ask what activities or occurrences make my heart sing? It’s a challenging question… a glorious question… a scary question… and a critical question if we (and for the coaches reading this, our clients) are to live life – engage with life – to the fullest.

What is it for you? 

I hit the garage gym this morning with that question top of mind. Within moments, I grabbed a pencil and notepad and started jotting down anything that came to mind. Simply thinking about them provided an extra spark to my energy level during the morning routine. By the time that last set of dead lifts were done, a list of 20 items stared back at me. Here is my (not your!) initial list, in no particular order:

  1. Hearing Suzanna laugh
  2. Trail run with our Aussie pup, Sky
  3. A trip to Fuzzy’s (our local taco joint) with the family before a CSU Rams basketball game
  4. Driving the Jeep Wrangler through the countryside with the top down and country music up
  5. Hearing good/happy news from one of our kids
  6. Watching the sun rise as I ponder the day ahead
  7. Walking through Old Town Ft. Collins and seeing the lights during the holidays season with Suzanna’s hand in mine
  8. Encouraging someone in their journey and seeing their eyes light up
  9. Whipping up a batch of pancakes while the whole family shares life together on a Saturday morning
  10. Garage gym session with the music cranked and sun shining
  11. Tailgating with family/friends/community before a football game
  12. Making an anonymous donation toward something meaningful
  13. Hitting splits in a pace run or track session
  14. Seeing our kids smiling with “their” person (husband/wife) by their side
  15. Driving up the driveway to our home
  16. Seeing hard work pay off (from digging boulders out of the ground to starting a new client relationship)
  17. When “that” song comes on
  18. Greeting Sky (our pup) in the AM as she does a biiiiiig stretch and expects it to be the best day ever!
  19. The 10 minutes leading up to a big race or speech
  20. Hearing Suzanna say “I love you, too” as we turn out the lights

Phew! I’m smiling just looking over the list. Now it’s your turn. It doesn’t have to be twenty and our lists might be (likely will be) completely different from one another. Start with one! What is one thing that makes your heart sing, lifts your spirit, fills you up? Maybe that one leads to a few other ideas. Once you’ve had a chance to jot a few down, then it’s reflection time:

  1. How often do I put myself in a position for those to take place?
  2. How can I change up my routine so it includes one or more of what I identified as life catalysts?
  3. If you do come up with 10 or more, are there patterns that emerge? For example, family, music and nature are at the core of 14 of the 20 initial items I jotted down this morning. 
  4. If there are patterns, what does that indicate about opportunities going forward?

Clear Eyes… Full Hearts… Can’t Lose

This phrase was a centerpiece of my all-time favorite TV series: Friday Night Lights. Clear eyes referenced a clarity of vision, purpose and what matters most. Full hearts is the opportunity to do what we were born to do, to hear our heart singing in the background as we move through this thing called life. And if we consistently bring those together? We can’t lose, regardless of what the scoreboard “out there” seems to indicate about the life we’re living.

So sure – go ahead an answer the easy questions like “what was your favorite vacation?” It’s a nice ice-breaker to get the ball rolling. However, please be sure to make your way back to the questions that actually matter, the questions that lead us down the path toward becoming a catalyst, making a difference with our friends, family, clients and community without burning ourselves out in the process.

When are you fully alive?

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