In 2008 medical professionals discovered the three main arteries to my heart had virtually closed. A surgeon took me immediately to the operating room. “I need to inform you that, due to the severity of your situation, chances are high that you will die while we perform the operation,” he told me. “I hope you’ve made proper preparations for your life.”
Almost six hours later, I awoke in a room filled with monitors, my loving wife, and people running in and out. I was indeed lucky and had been given a new chance at life.
Since that time, I have altered my life. It has been tough, but I have discovered 10 keys to living life abundantly. Here they are.
Key #1: Know your priorities.
No one can tell you what your priorities should be. This decision is personal. It must be self-discovered – through prayer, meditation, or simply making a list of what you feel is most important to you. Even after all this effort, it is also important to understand that, throughout your life, priorities can change. However, the core essence in the entire process is in knowing precisely what your priorities are and how you can make them your focus.
Key #2: Stand up for your beliefs.
You don’t have to be belligerent – but don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. You will probably attract at least some critics. However, simply explain in a professional and respectful manner what you feel. The courage of your convictions is perhaps the only way that others with opposite viewpoints will begin to reconsider their positions or decisions. Not everyone needs to think alike, but we should all think together!
Key #3: Seek solutions instead of praising problems.
Problems provide an opportunity to learn and grow personally. Don’t dwell on why the problem had to happen to you; instead, seek a solution. Even short-term fixes help us minimize the problem in our mind. This allows the mind then to re-energize the body. When the body becomes re-energized, solutions flow and success will present itself in short order.
Key #4: Never stop learning.
The mind is a great machine. We must keep it active and avoid long periods of being shut down. There is much to learn as our world changes. Become engrossed in learning all you can about your role, your industry, your community, and all other areas that interest you. Never feel you are too old to benefit from an educational experience. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” The only way you never benefit is if you are no longer “green side up” on this Earth.
Key #5: Develop and maintain a good support system.
One cannot be an island in this world. Connections with others make us complete. Surround yourself with people upon whom you can depend to offer advice, when warranted – and support in times of need. Good listeners make a valuable difference in being able to meet the challenges of society’s daily demands. Find those individuals who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
Key #6: Align your actions with your intentions.
Frequently, we embark on actions that produce outcomes far adverse to our expectations. You must be sure your actions align with your intentions and desired outcomes. Base your actions on sound principles, not what simply looks good or seems easy. Be sure your work has merit and that you use the right tools.
Key #7: Love yourself.
Any negative energy we produce is known as “catabolic” energy. It’s destructive and limits our beliefs and potential. On the other hand, the mindset of discovering what does not work produces an “anabolic” energy, which is positive and allows us to discover the greatness that lies within us. When this happens, we grow stronger mentally and physically – and increase our ability to help others. We must love ourselves for who we are and what we can become.
Key #8: Stay fit.
Physical exercise, proper diet, and sleep are musts for the well-being of the body and the mind. You can’t remain at your best unless you commit to allow your body and mind to engage. As the Arabian proverb proclaims: “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.”
Key #9: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
After my heart surgery, I learned 85 percent of my medical crisis was directly related to the fact that I did not manage stress as well as I should. Living life abundantly provides the fundamental roadmap that will enable even the most rigid personality to better control stress.
Studies have shown that laughing every day will enhance our good health and prolong our lives. When we laugh, it releases endorphins that are up to 500 times more powerful than morphine. Seize the energy of laughter and having fun and not taking yourself too seriously.
Key #10: Keep the faith.
Looking back over life, it is difficult to imagine where I would be today without faith. When the outlook was bad – and it seemed that the more I tried, and the harder I worked, nothing seemed to work – it was the uplook to faith that always proved good. As Sir William Osler once said, “Nothing in life is more wonderful than faith – the one great moving force which we can neither weigh in the balance nor test in the crucible.”
Conclusion: Living an abundant life takes effort
Living a life abundantly requires one to work strategically according to these principles, and, most important, embrace the idea that change is possible.
Herman Dixon is president and CEO of Think BIG! Coaching & Training.