Burnout Will Ruin Your Life – Here’s What You Should Do

Have you ever sat somewhere feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally fatigued? If you were not ill, you were probably suffering from Burnout.

Burnout is a job killing, life-sapping state that hits you when you least expect it. The Mayo Clinic adds that job burnout also includes doubts about your competence and your work value. You lack the motivation to do anything and everything seems overwhelming. It’s like a heavy weight on your shoulders that no one else can see.

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According to workplacefairness.org, some American companies give their employees some time off to prevent burnout and to improve employee morale. Other companies are making it mandatory for their employees to take their vacation days because they know that a burnt out employee will be an unproductive employee.

What are the Symptoms of Burnout?

While there are many ideas why burnout occurs, I believe the simple way to summarise these ideas is to label the cause as a sense of defeat in multiple situations, that is, at work, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Examples of such situations as outlined by HelpGuide.org include loss of control, doing boring or unchallenging work, procrastinating, work-life imbalance, and unclear or demanding job expectations.

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Once these situations get out of hand, you find yourself suffering from symptoms such as:

  • Chronic exhaustion and stress
  • Lack of motivation to do anything
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Frustration and Irritability
  • Unproductive and inefficient work
  • A weakened immune system due to overwhelming stress
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of apathy, hopelessness, and loneliness

Having these symptoms especially over an extended period will ruin your life. You have to do something to start feeling better, enjoying life again and feeling that you are making a difference in life and at work.

Tips to Help You Overcome Burnout

Realising that your life has lost its sparkle is the first step to getting better. The next question becomes, “What steps can I take to get out of this funk?”

There are several things you can do:

  • Take a Vacation

Dropping everything you are doing and taking a trip can do wonders for your health and your outlook on life. When you are exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally, it’s like you are stuck in a rut. Going somewhere new helps you get perspective on what is going on in your life and the steps you can take to fix it. Just relaxing on a beach somewhere can be cathartic.

Spending some time outdoors is also beneficial because the sun is good for your health. According to Harvard Health, the sun gives you Vitamin D, which counteracts seasonal affective disorder (SAD), otherwise known as winter depression.

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  • Talk to a Trusted Friend

A problem shared is a problem half-solved. Talking to someone helps you get out of your head, where you have been so focused on your problems that you couldn’t see the solutions. Talking makes your mind start thinking about new ideas for your life. It is also always comforting to know someone cares enough about you to be willing to listen to your problems.

  • Balance your Work and your Life

Working relentlessly without taking the time to talk to your friends and family can sap your joy for life. In a TED Talk by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, he concluded that their 75-year old study on what makes a good life is by building good relationships.

Once you start making time from work to go see your kids in a play or to meet and make new friends, you will start feeling happier and more connected to the world around you. Many of the people suffering from depression have no one to talk to and no support system to help them bounce back from whatever problems they are facing in life. Don’t let that happen to you.

  • Start Exercising and Eating well

An often-unstated means of combating many physical, mental, and emotional problems is through exercising. Working out releases chemicals called endorphins into your system. These chemicals reduce stress and make you feel good and positive about your life.

The second part of this is eating well. When your body is not getting the essential nutrients obtained from a balanced diet, you will not be operating at an optimal level. Your body will also be under undue stress, which can weaken the immune system and lead to illnesses such as heart disease. Malnutrition causes fatigue, which, in turn, affects how productive you will be.

  • Rethink Your Goals and Your Life

Sometimes our lack of motivation in whatever we are doing comes from the fact that it is not what we are supposed to be doing. It’s not the thing that excites you so much that you forget you haven’t eaten anything. Therefore, you have to find your purpose in life. Look for whatever it is that makes you happy; something that you are willing to learn to be great at doing, and that helps you meet all your basic needs.

If you are doing something you don’t love, it will take all your physical, mental, and emotional strength. Moreover, at some point, you will feel overwhelmed and exhausted; that you can’t take it anymore.

There is no need to live such a life. You can make a difference in how you have been living. Do it today!

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Take Stock of your Life In order to Move Forward and Succeed

All successful men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose. – Brian Tracy

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On January 1, 2017, I made the resolution that I would read two books every month. March is already with us now and I’ve only read a book and a quarter out of four. While it’s good I’ve at least done something, I know I could have done better than that. Unsurprisingly, this ‘resolution thing’ is a problem that a many people are experiencing.

How many resolutions have you accomplished so far? Are you even on the path toward achieving the goals you set for this year?

According to a survey carried out by the Statistic Brain Research Institute on new year’s day this year, only 9.2% of 1,562 respondents reported feeling successful in achieving their resolutions. Forty-eight point four percent reported having infrequent success, while 42.4% said they failed each year in accomplishing their goals.

Feeling Stuck in Life

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Sometimes you can start feeling stuck and it seems unlikely that you will accomplish your goals. Everybody goes through this at times. However, successful people experience this feeling very rarely due to one reason: Purpose.

Thousands of books have been dedicated to this word yet many fail to find this key part of their lives. People with a purpose have a vision and a plan for their future that is so motivating that you can just see them walking with a spring in their step. It’s (supposed to be) that simple.

Unfortunately, many people live uninspired lives full of either failure or moderate success.

Failing to succeed affects people mentally. It breeds insecurities and fear of taking action in other areas of life. It creates a great sense of shame, which can rob an individual of their self-esteem and confidence. Once an individual begins retreating into the recesses of their mind, they discover where a broken mind resides, pulling in its victim further into pain, regret, shame, and depression.

The social structure of society pushes individuals to try to be better than others; either to show the outcomes of self-actualization or to create the perception that their lives are better than others are. Case in point, when people are on social media, all the pictures point to an amazing life the individual is experiencing that is supposed to be better than of their followers.

If a person feels that they are a failure and begin to drown themselves in their sorrows, it is only a matter of time before depression takes root. The classic early signs of depression according to the NHS Choices UK are:

  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Lacking motivation and interest
  • Continuous moodiness and sadness

Others can be:

  • Avoiding public interaction because of the belief they are looking down on you
  • Failing to apply personal hygiene because you no longer see the point
  • Living in a space that is untidy and unclean
  • Having suicidal thoughts because you think the world will be better off without you or that no one will miss you when you are gone.

Without a support system, it is easy to spiral into a life of drug and substance abuse because it has become too painful to face the reality of your life. Some people label themselves as being “depressed” thereby getting access to anti-depressant drugs, which can have a negative effect on their mental health if misdiagnosed.

How to Move Forward in Life

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  1. Spot the problem

Whether it is in your job, exercising, eating healthy, or being more kind, whatever it is that you are frustrated about not accomplishing requires that you first spot the problem. The solution you come up with will take you to the next level of growth and accomplishment. It will also prevent you from feeling sorry for yourself.

  1. Find your purpose or vision

Recently I was reading about a successful musician and discovered that he dropped out of school in order to sing full-time. While it’s not advisable to copy him, his actions let us know the criteria for our purpose or vision.

Here are the criteria: If you have something you love doing, you are good at doing it, would give everything up to do it and it provides a solution to a problem the public has (and it is not illegal/immoral/unethical) then that can become your purpose in life.

You then need to have a vision of how you want to be in the future. In the case of the musician, his vision could be to become a legend in the music industry with multiple classic songs. With that in mind, he can then work toward achieving that goal, which brings us to the next point.

  1. Chart a new course for your life

The only thing one can do is look at the mistakes and achievements of the past, and chart a new course in order to achieve their overall vision. This sense of purpose will have a positive effect on mental health because every day you wake up inspired to reach a goal you have envisioned for yourself.

  1. Don’t wallow in self-pity for too long

Sometimes life pushes us too hard and we want to curl up in the corner listening to depressing music that matches our mood. However, as Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “To live is to suffer; to survive, is to find some form of meaning in the suffering.”

It’s okay to allow yourself to feel all the range of emotions, both negative and positive. Nevertheless, you should not dwell in this doom and gloom mentality. Inspire positive moods through action and seek out that which makes you happy. You don’t live forever so you have to try at least to be happy while you are here.

  1. Forgive Yourself

I’ve often heard this statement made and it never seems to register because I don’t think people (including myself) truly realise that they have been judging themselves harshly for past mistakes. Realise that life has no script; therefore, it is inevitable that you will make the wrong decision. Sometimes that decision can be very costly as well.

As you will eventually come to realise, holding on to these mistakes, failures, and the guilt that comes with it, is of no use to you. You have to move on. The only way to do that is to acknowledge it, learn from it, and let it go. Once you forgive yourself, you will be able to move forward, make new mistakes, and grow.

Doing all these things will help you get in the right mindset to achieve your goals and to change your present life for the better. Understand why your resolutions are important to you and plan out exactly how you can accomplish every one of them. As for me, I’m heading off to read my first book for the new month. I’m confident I will also read the second book because I know why I’m reading and I have a plan of how to go about it.

What about you?

Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values. – Ayn Rand

Your Life on Earth

In recent times, I have been constantly talking about how your life is precious and why you should never consider giving up even when the pressures of life keep stressing you.

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The BBC website has a great interactive feature that shows how much the world has changed since the time you were born. It is an interesting interactive segment that you should go and check out using this link: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141016-your-life-on-earth.

We are all part of a great Earth Story and our lives are “connected by invisible threads”.

Enjoy that great feature!

Choosing to Die: Euthanasia versus Suicide

As 29-year old Brittany Maynard lay on her bed surrounded by the people she loved the most, she knew this was the right moment to die.

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Earlier, as mentioned by People.com, she had written a post on her Facebook page that “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more”.

For her, this was a fitting moment to say goodbye to the world and all the beauty she had witnessed all her life. To her family, this was a bittersweet moment. On one part, they were deeply saddened to know that this would be the last time they would ever see her again. On another part, they were glad that she was dying on her own terms; that she was in control of her destiny; and that she would not have to suffer the mental and physical toll her illness would put her through before she died.

Using Oregon’s right-to-die law, the Death by Dignity Act, Maynard was able to make arrangements to end her life at the time and place of her choosing. Most important of all, she was with the people she loved the most.

Different Story: Hollie McEwen

Hollie McEwen, a dedicated nurse, suffered a relapse of psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that forms red and itchy patches on the body. She had struggled with the disease for most of her life. But now, it seemed to take its toll.

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McEwen was overwhelmed by stress and went to seek medical help for depression. Nevertheless, despite taking anti-depressants, there wasn’t any indication of what she was going to do later on. She had just gone for a family trip to Turkey and everyone thought she was okay. Unfortunately, though, McEwen had decided to take a different approach to her illness.

No one knew what McEwen was planning to do. Not even Jessica Dunn, a Behavioural Psychotherapist who spoke with McEwen about how she was coping.

On a Friday morning after coming back from the trip, McEwen’s neighbour, Elaine Lunn, received a note from McEwen “asking her to call the emergency services so Hollie’s family would not find her body”.

Hollie McEwen had hanged herself.

Her friends and family were left devastated. Why would she commit suicide?

Is Euthanasia just another Suicide?

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Euthanasia as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy”.

Medical News Today defines it as “to take a deliberate action with the express intention of ending a life to relieve intractable (persistent, unstoppable) suffering”.

In both instances, there is an aspect of having mercy on someone such that you ‘allow’ them to die. Brittany Maynard described it as “dying with dignity”.

Suicide, on the other hand, is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind”.

The Concise Encyclopaedia is more direct in defining suicide as the “Act of intentionally taking one’s own life”.

There are also other definitions where euthanasia is described as “assisted suicide”.

But is euthanasia and suicide really the same?

Going by definition alone, there really isn’t any difference between euthanasia and suicide. In both cases, there is the act of intentionally seeking to end one’s life.

[Side note: There are also instances of involuntary euthanasia whereby someone (mostly medical workers) takes it upon themselves to end someone else’s (mostly terminally ill patients) life in order to end their suffering.]

However, there seems to be a concerted effort by some people and by some advocacy groups to show that there is a difference between intentionally and voluntarily choosing to die to end your suffering (euthanasia); and intentionally and voluntarily choosing to die because you don’t see a reason for living (suicide).

Is not ALL life precious regardless of the circumstances?

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, says that, “Every suicide is a tragedy… The impact on families, friends and communities is devastating and far-reaching, even long after persons dear to them have taken their own lives”.

Just to highlight that again, the impact is “devastating and far-reaching”.

Looking at the Brittany Maynard and Hollie McEwen stories, there is a blurred lines scenario. Was either of them justified in taking their own life? After all, we are responsible for our own choices.

Is there a ‘right’ way to die? Is it possible to have a ‘dignified’ death?

In the ancient past, the Japanese practised a form of ritual suicide called Seppuku, whereby a Samurai warrior would disembowel themselves using their swords. What’s interesting is that, if the Samurai were forced to do it, it was a form of capital punishment. However, if they undertook Seppuku voluntarily – either due to disgrace, failure, or to avoid being captured by an enemy – it was considered an act of Honour.

Morality in Death

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All life is precious. However, it seems as though there can be a morality imposed on the manner of one’s voluntary choice of death. While there are those who strongly criticized Brittany Maynard for her decision to choose assisted suicide, there are others who sympathized with her predicament and even sought to encourage her.

In an excerpt from the article, she said, “The worst thing that could happen to me is that I wait too long because I’m trying to seize each day, but I somehow have my autonomy taken away from me by my disease because of the nature of my cancer”. That was her reality.

It is said you should never judge anyone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. She was faced with tough odds that most people never get to experience. She confessed to her reality by saying, “’I don’t want to die. If anyone wants to hand me, like, a magical cure and save my life so that I can have children with my husband, you know, I will take them up on it”.

Do people have the right over their own life or does the community have a stake in everyone’s life? If the community has no stake, then why do people try so hard to convince others not to commit suicide?

In truth, we are all connected in life and through death. It is the human predicament: we live and we die. We care what happens to other people because ultimately, we all share the same fate.

Whether Hollie McEwen took her own life because she was overwhelmed by depression caused by her illness or whether Brittany Maynard decided to have her life ended because of her terminal illness seems to drown out the key point: Life is precious.

It is sad that both these ladies had to have their lives tormented by illnesses and cut short through death.

There are states and countries which allow euthanasia but the majority have deemed it an illegal act. The message is clear that life must be protected at all costs. Even at the cost of an individual. Who can stand and say they would battle through their suffering all the way to the end of their lives?

Some people make the choice to commit suicide. Others are victims of mental health issues which distort their view of reality. Others are accused of being cowards because suicide involves shunning one’s responsibility for the circumstances one finds themselves in.

Life is tough; but precious nonetheless.

What do you think: Should people have the right to choose to die?

Keep Depression at Bay: 8 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up

Sad moments can creep up on you when you least expect it. You were feeling ecstatic a moment ago but now you are not in the mood to celebrate. We all experience this feeling.

Sometimes we just get overwhelmed when the pressures of life weigh us down. You wake up and you don’t feel like doing anything. Making breakfast is a chore and you are looking forward to the moment you will sit down and just be. You can’t seem to shake the feeling so you allow yourself to wallow in sadness. All attempts from people to raise your spirits are met with anger and irritation. “Why won’t everyone just mind their own business”, you say.

There are many articles online saying that you should not try to get out of your slump; rather, embrace the slump as a reality and it will go away. While this course of action might sound deep, there is also a risk that your mini mood slump can quickly evolve into depression. Now you have a big problem!

Perhaps a few of these methods below can assist you to get back the joy in your life:

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  1. Listen to Music… and Sing

There is probably a song for everything. Think up any topic and a musician has probably sung about it. When you are sad, you’ll naturally gravitate toward sad songs. It seems that this guy or that girl gets you. That musician understands exactly how you are feeling. Perhaps it would be best to listen to uplifting music. Singing will make your mind active and responsive to mood changes. If you really let the music sink in, you might even start dancing. It’s a form of exercise and we’ve already seen how exercise can be great for your body.

  1. Get perspective

As Dan Gilbert says in his ‘Surprising Science of Happiness’ Ted Talks speech, human beings tend to overestimate the pain or pleasure they will experience. Thus, it is important to get some perspective as to why you are feeling sad. Try to get an objective view of the situation you are in rather than a subjective one. By doing this, you remove the emotions that cloud your judgement as to what really happened to you to make you feel sad.

For example, sometimes people can hurt us unintentionally. Letting that pain fester in your mind can keep you from focussing on the fact that the person who hurt you loves you deeply and they would never do anything intentionally to bring pain to your life.

You have to find out exactly what it is that is making you feel down. Normally, when people are sad, they tend to make blanket statements that their whole life sucks. In truth, before getting into a negative mindset, these people were thinking their lives were amazing. What changed? Focus on what’s wrong and fix it.

  1. Exercise

Working out brings more benefits to your life beyond the physical. As you know, exercising makes the body release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters from the brain that make you feel good. If you want to feel good, exercise.

  1. Share your problem with someone you trust

A problem shared is a problem half-solved. Confidants can help you make sense of issues and find solutions for them. You have to surround yourself with people who will give you sound counsel. This will get you on your way to resolving your problems and being happy again.

Trusted friends can also give you the support you need if you require a shoulder to cry on. Another interesting thing is that if you manage to get a couple of hugs, your mood instantly changes. Try it.

  1. Find a source of laughter

You’ve heard this before, but laughter is the best medicine. To get out of your bad mood, you need to find someone who can make you laugh or watch a comedy show. Laughing makes you feel alive and grateful for your life. It will make you feel happy

  1. Remember that you are what you eat

There are a couple of foods and snacks that should be included in your diet, which act as mood boosters. Top on the list is fish, which gives omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 raises the levels of a brain chemical called serotonin, which boosts our mood. Another booster is chocolate. Chocolate not only tastes good, but also acts as an anti-oxidant and as a serotonin stimulator. You need to eat the chocolate in moderation though, as eating a lot of it will leave you feeling queasy and ruin your mood even further.

  1. Volunteer to help other people

It is said that, “If you think you have problems, just visit the hospital and see for yourself what other people are going through”. This is just a way of bringing perspective to your problems. Volunteering has a two-fold effect of not only helping other people, but also giving you a sense of gratitude and joy. There are so many people going through a lot of issues that sometimes you just need to ask them whether they are okay. We all need each other. We can lift each other’s spirit by simply being kind, caring and generous.

  1. Get some fresh air by going for a walk

Going outside can do wonders for you. It has been theorized that staying indoors causes anxiety and depression because the body is not getting enough Vitamin D from the sun nor taking in fresh air into the lungs. Walking is a form of exercise as well and it allows you to clear your mind as you analyze everything that is making you feel sad. Being outside is soothing and it rejuvenates your spirit as you take in deep breaths.

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Take Action

All these methods have one thing in common; they all involve taking action. People focus too much on their feelings and talk about not “feeling like doing anything”. In truth, feelings follow actions and not the other way around. Notice how when you don’t feel like doing something but you do it anyway, you stop ‘feeling’ like it was a bad thing. It’s all about taking action.

Wherever you are right now, you can choose to be happy. Life will throw all kinds of problems your way. In times like these, you will need to summon your willpower and take action to be happy again. Realize that happiness is a state of being and embody happiness.

You can choose to be happy right now. Don’t wait for the sadness to overwhelm you.

When the Pressures of Life Weigh You Down

Life is brutal. There is of course the “You get what you expect in life” aphorism or the one about how “You can see your life through different lenses; either a positive outlook or a negative one, and in each case you will be right”. None of that changes the fact that life is brutal. It is impersonal. It does not care about your status in society. Neither does it matter whether you are the kindest soul or the vilest person on the planet. It will dish out its brutality in unequal measure. At least that’s how it seems.Pressures of life

You have bills to pay. The kids haven’t had a decent meal in a while. Your landlord wants to evict you. You’ve just been laid off. Your department is no longer needed and therefore they won’t require your services anymore. You’ve just found out your spouse has been cheating on you with your best friend. The doctor has just announced that your only child has a terminal illness. A reckless driver just totalled your car and now you are paralysed from the waist down. That vacation of a lifetime took you to an area where you contracted a flesh-eating bug. That pimple on your face is actually a cancerous tumour. It’s brutality everywhere. That is life.

It all sounds bleak. Perhaps it is true when they say you should focus on the positive things that life has to offer. As one song says, “Count your blessings name them one by one”. Apparently, when you count your blessings, your outlook changes and you realize that things are not as bad as they appear. Is that supposed to be comforting? How will you solve your current problems? Who will help you when everyone around you is going through their own personal hell? Why do bad things happen to good people?

That is the nature of life. Sometimes the pressures of life can weigh you down and there doesn’t seem to be any respite in the near future. Your friends have turned their back on you and your family doesn’t seem to love you anymore. You are all alone. You are broke and all your creditors want a piece from you. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. People say you are useless; foolish even. The world would be better off without you.

Surely, what’s the point of living? Might as well escape the brutality, right?

New Eyes

If you’ve read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl (if not, I would definitely recommend it), you realize that life will do with you as it pleases. It will tear you down to your bare bones till all you can see is the real you. You will question your purpose on this earth when all the pressures of life weigh you down. You are here for a reason but what is it? Were you just put here to suffer?

Most of the kindest people on earth are those who have suffered deeply in their hearts and minds. The only thing that separates those who make it through this life is willpower. Yes, you are suffering. But you are not the only one. You are not alone. There are many other people going through the same struggle. There are millions more whose struggles you would not wish to bear. We are bound to one another through our lives; through our shared pain. We are all in this together.

That’s why you are always urged to smile at people and be kind whenever possible “because you do not know what struggles they may be going through”. It is just a small way of saying, “Despite the pain you are feeling, I appreciate that we are in this together”. It’s a shared kinship.

Life is not that bleak. It is true you need to teach yourself to look at life with new eyes. There is so much beauty around us that goes unnoticed. When is the last time you took a second to stare at the moon? When is the last time you closed your umbrella and just raised your head to the sky and embraced the rain? When’s the last time you tried to share a joke with the quiet person in the room? When is the last time you just smiled at a random stranger as you passed and they smiled back at you?

Like in other things in life, it is the little things that matter. How did you make a million? I just decided to change my product from green to blue. How did you win that football match? I just tweaked the tactics a little and we took control of the game. What do you love about her? There’s this little noise she makes when she laughs. What do you like about him? There’s this little look he gets when he sees me.

It’s the little things that matter!

Look around you and find whatever it is that makes you happy; even for a moment. The pain will always be there but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be interspersed with moments of sheer joy. Perhaps it’s even a good idea to start living your bucket list right now. There are so many people who are trying to complete their bucket lists quickly because they’ve been told they have a terminal disease.

Maybe taking the attitude that we don’t have long to live can spur us to great heights. We can love deeply; live without fear; speak kind words to one another; share our meals with those who don’t have the means; give a stranger our parking space; be patient with one another; appreciate our earthly possessions more; go to all our kids’ ballgames; sing passionately; and even sleep peacefully. Life would be an expression of love.

Life brings suffering but Love is effusive. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some form of meaning in the suffering”. We can choose to see the world with new eyes. We can accept the reality of the world and still do the things that will bring joy to our lives. We can love our lives in spite of the inherent flaws. Only then can we connect with others in the eternal bond that binds us together: Life.