“I live life to the fullest” is a saying often repeated.
It’s usually attached to a photo of the person hiking or at a nice beach, celebrating with friends in Vegas, or while posing in front of their shiny new Range Rover.
“I live my life to the fullest” is also a recurring mantra for Facebook posts, hashtags on Instagram, and profiles on dating sites like Tinder, JustCuddling.com and TheAmishNeedLoveToo.net
No one really knows from whence the “I life my life to the fullest” slogan sprung, but it’s so damn ubiquitous now that it’s even too cliché for a t-shirt. And they’ll put anything on those!
In fact, “I live my life to the fullest” has also morphed into:
“I keep it 100!” (I assume that’s percent, not miles per hour.)
“’Living the dream!”
And for one brief but dark period in human existence, “Living la vida loca.”
But what does it really mean? To me, it seems like it’s always in the context of the person:
Making more money.
Taking advantage of every second.
Never being bored or inactive.
Enjoying luxuries and the finer things in life.
Don’t get me wrong – all of that is great. No one can argue that these aren’t noble pursuits if that’s what motivates you and makes you happy. But I can’t help but notice that they usually have one thing in common:
They all talk about getting something that you don’t have now. It could be more money, having more good times or looking more like a super model. But when you get down to it, “I live my life to the fullest” really has become “Look at me! I’m having way more fun than the rest of you schlubs!”
In some way, we’re all guilty of this. We leave breadcrumbs of social proof that we’re more fulfilled with our time here on earth than the average person. But whom exactly are we trying to convince? Ourselves?
Of course, having goals and ambitions is amazing, but have you ever noticed that we don't ever talk about living life to the fullest along with photos of us:
Spending time with our children,
Saving to get out of debt,
Or volunteering at a homeless shelter.
Is it then a condemning statement about what we value most as a society? Why is it that the majority of the population claims to be living life to the fullest, yet we have record rates of anxiety, depression and are more stressed out than ever?
Perhaps it’s another popular saying that sheds the most light on “I live life to the fullest”:
“F.O.M.O.” or Fear of Missing Out. It seems to me that these two concepts are inexorably tied.
So I’d like to balance the conversation with this:
Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine not to live life to the fullest. Do something or do nothing – it doesn’t always matter. In fact, do whatever the hell you want just as long as it makes YOU happy (DISCLAIMER: assuming you’re not stealing from the elderly, exposing yourself in public or hurting puppies.)
If you thoroughly enjoy something, then just do it without all the guilt and self-condemnation. Give yourself permission not to keep competing against an impossible ideal.
Take a nap. Then take another one.
Drive a beat up old car that ruins any chance you have of attracting a suitable mate.
Stay home on a Saturday night when “everyone else” is out partying, then order a pizza then eat it all yourself, including parts of the box with melted cheese.
Exercise because it feels good and makes you healthier, not so you'll look a certain way.
I guess what I’m saying is that it would be healthy if we stopped feeling like we always need to rush around trying to get more, do more or be more.
We are and have everything we need already.
What we need is more genuine happiness and less trying to prove that we’re so damn happy to everyone else.
- Norm :-)