What if in the afterlife you met all the possible “you’s” that could have existed? The wealthier you who never gave up and finally knocked down that door, the happier you who stayed with your partner through the tough times, the more fit you who stuck with the daily workouts, the more accomplished you who took the time to finish writing the book. As pondered by author David Eagleman*, this notion of “other you’s” really got me thinking.
In what ways are you fulfilling your potential? And in what ways are you leaving talent, love, and passion on the table?
Following are three tips that don’t involve any massive life changes yet will propel you toward maximizing your potential:
1. Protect Your Appetite for Learning
When we lose our appetite for knowledge, insight, and education, we diminish the power of the brain. The latest research shows that the brain can form new neural connections at any time in life. Yet when we fail to exercise the brain and entertain new thoughts, it begins to sag, like a worn out body. A lazy brain can lead to Alzheimers and other disease.** Have heaps of time passed since you’ve been to the art museum or listened to new music or read a great book? As Glen Dorman of The Institute of Achievement of Human Potential said, “Some kids go through their whole life believing that learning is fun and the only game worth playing. We have a name for such people. We call them geniuses.”
2. Clarify Your Definition of Freedom
Like so many Americans, I bought a house in 2006 when money was easy to come by. And now I’m throttled by a huge mortgage. I used to think that owning a nice home in a pleasant neighborhood spelled f-r-e-e-d-o-m. But now I’ve clarified my definition of freedom to mean living within my means. When you let outside influences determine your freedom, there will always be a part of you straggling behind, shackled by the weight of the world, begging for another chance to live on purpose. That inner straggler can cause a lot of strife. As Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
3. Consider The Power of Love
I once read that all of our technology is an extension of the mind and its thoughts. There is not yet an example of technology that is an extension of the heart and its feelings. One day, we will create such a machine. As French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin said, “Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love.” And I believe that such a future technology will measure how the human being who sustains a high level of love will attract not just greater relationships but also fulfillment, abundance, and opportunity.
Becoming the “wealthier you” might take years, and becoming the “more fit you” might involve painful changes in your diet, and becoming the “more tenacious you” might require a huge and prolonged shift in your attitude. But the “more loving you” is one bear hug away. And the “freer you” is no farther than a 24 hour sabbath from the annoying cell phone. And the “more inspired you” is as easy as cracking open a great book. As I share in mine, before you take the massive and painful steps toward a more fulfilled life, consider the little ones…a amazing bite of exotic chocolate, a sidesplitting laugh, a walk in the warm summer night.
Talk to You Tracy Chapman
staple it together Jack Johnson
Creepin’ In (Live) Norah Jones
Memphis Soul Stew (Single Version) King Curtis & The Kingpins
At The Zoo Simon & Garfunkel
In the Colors Ben Harper
Streets of Philadelphia Bruce Springsteen
Lucky One Alison Krause
Jaya Sita Rama Wade Imre Morissette
* from David Eagleman’s Sum, Forty Tales from the Afterlife