There are two modes in which we can live life, passive and active. The most common mode is passive… when you live passively, you let the currents of life take you where they will, whether that is good or bad. The most active role you take is to try to avoid negatives, and even then, you won’t go much out of your way… you likely even feel like there’s nothing you can do.
When you live actively, on the other hand, you have an idea of where you are, where you want to be, and the direction you need to go to get there. You take active steps to move in the direction necessary to get to the destination you have chosen.
Good and bad things will happen to everyone, regardless of whether they are choosing to live actively, or just going where life takes them. Diseases generally aren’t things you choose, for example, although your choices can certainly affect your likelihood of getting many of them. Meeting the love of your life isn’t something you can choose, either, although again your choices can most definitely affect the likelihood of meeting them (and even more so the likelihood of keeping them).
The mode in which you live your life is a choice, though as Rush says, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. You can alter which mode you live in at any time, though not without difficulty. Most people live most of their life in the passive mode, and even people that choose to live actively can sometimes slip into living passively, and those who live actively don’t necessarily do so in every aspect of their life… You may be actively choosing to get fit, or to move up the corporate ladder, but be living passively in your love life, for example. We only have so much attention, and it’s hard to be attentive to every part of your life.
So… why should you choose to live one way or the other, if good things and bad things happen either way?
A life lived passively will have, at most, brief moments of joy… You may feel joy when your child is born, for example, but if you don’t actively choose to focus on them and spend time with them, that feeling will fade, and may even turn into resentment when they impact your life in ways you did not choose. You may feel joy when you meet a new flame, but if you don’t actively choose to invest in that relationship, it will slip and fade, and so will the happiness that came from it.
A life lived passively will have very little passion… It will be sort of gray, and you will likely feel far more of the negative emotions than the positive ones. You may feel depressed, stuck, angry, jealous, etc., mostly because you feel like you have no control over your life, though most of the time when you are in that state, it’s hard to see the root cause.
A life lived passively will have little love… Love is an active emotion, something that must be created. Love fades when it is not given proper care and feeding, and while the current of life will most likely sweep you past, and through, love from time to time, it will do absolutely nothing to keep that love with you. That requires action on your part.
A life lived actively can be full of joy, passion, and love… Your choices can feed all of those positive emotions, all of the things that make life worth living. When you find something you are passionate about, and you pursue it actively, the passion you feel grows. When you actively choose to invest your time and energy into the ones that you love, the love between your grows deeper and stronger, regardless of the type of love. When you actively choose to live life, and you see the impact it has on everything, and everyone, around you, you can build joy that lasts.
Someone living passively sees a job they don’t like as something they have no choice about, something that they are stuck with, that drags them down. Someone living actively sees the job as something that enables them to pursue whatever it is that they are choosing… and you would be amazed at the difference in attitude that brings, and how much of the negative perception of the job goes away with that difference.
Someone who is living passively will see a family member whose health is failing as a negative to be avoided… They choose not to get too close, in hopes that it doesn’t hurt as much when they go. Someone who lives actively will instead see the time before the person goes as a chance to renew and strengthen the bonds of love between them, and will end up hurting far less, because the very strength of those bonds, the bonds that the passive person is letting fade, will support them and give them strength.
Again… the way you live life is a choice, and your whole life doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you are living passively, and most people are, you can choose to live actively in just one area of your life… you can actively invest in the love you have (or actively invest in new people, if you don’t currently have anyone… even the smallest of active investment of time and energy will make a massive difference), you can actively pursue your passion (whether that’s helping others, cooking, woodworking, art, or anything else), and you can actively choose to take joy from wherever you are. You can actively be active, to start getting fit, or actively choose what you eat… it’s amazing how much eating well can affect every other aspect of your life.
It doesn’t really matter where you bring active living into your life… the effects of bringing it into your life anywhere will spread to the rest of your life. It’s easier to love someone who is passionate, and easier to be passionate when you know you have love solidly in your life. You have more energy to follow your passion when you take care of yourself physically, and the mental improvements from being passionate make you less likely to eat poorly.
I’m actively choosing, right now, to live my life more actively… Won’t you please do the same?