There is a phrase so uplifting to me that I use it all the time – at the closing of a handwritten letter, at the beginning of a speech, or while sharing a toast with friends and family. “Live life to the fullest!” I often say, and everyone smiles and agrees. We share our blessings, and for that moment, there is a sense of comfort that life is really pretty great after all.
In spite of setbacks of dreams yet to be fulfilled or inevitable pitfalls in life – some so devastating we wonder if there really is light at the end – we savor the giddiness that follows laughter with friends recalling the best of times, and agree at how useless and destructive it is to give credence to negative thoughts when others try to bring us down by infiltrating our psyche.
I can’t help but wonder what people do with that phrase “Live life to the fullest,” and whether it resonates with anyone at all? For me, each time I say it I pause and give a nod of gratitude over things that went well that week, day, or moment – even if it ended in shambles. The mere act of saying “Live life to the fullest” gives me reason to self-adjust. Just as in everyday conversation, I believe so much in the words we say that I tend to edit myself often! Except for the occasional emotional blurting out of something regrettably inane, I do take pride in positively influencing those I encounter within hearing or reading distance.
As a writer and editor for more than four decades, I find it fascinating that years may pass and my written words find their way back to visit me now and then. Through letter writing, cards sent, and published works, I’m still taken off guard when I hear someone say, “I remember you said…” or “I recall reading that article when you suggested…” or even more surprising, “I kept that poem you published and kept it in my purse…” Not that my words are ever brilliant – it’s only because, as a writer, I get feedback.
We all need to understand that any words we say may affect others, sometimes for years; you don’t have to be published to realize this. Elevating words, affectionate phrases, and yes, even the not-so-great things you say, will resonate and affect people long after you’ve forgotten what you said. Before sharing thoughts, we should give consideration to the idea that our words will come back to us in one way or another.
We should treasure the privilege we have to be free to opine; to inspire and uplift people; and to avoid downgrading words that diminish others. It’s so disheartening to hear negative thoughts, especially when the tone is decidedly hurtful and the delivery crass. That’s no way to live life to the fullest.
The great thing is, no matter what you’ve thought, written, or said, anything you do from this moment on will also define you, refine you, and help you become the person you imagined you would be. So what if you fell short in the world of graciousness during a point of weakness or exhibited any number of human frailties that made you less than perfect? You may regret something you said or realize later the hurt you may have caused. That doesn’t mean you can’t change and start anew. When one engages in behaviors exuding sensitivity and respect, watch how marvelous the response is on the receiving end.
Try something new and develop your own story this year – you are the producer of your personal destiny. Audition those who enter your arena and cast those who get to share the Stage of Life with you. If there are still negative forces who try to bum-rush your stage, you can close that curtain and revisit them at your next adventure – if they change for the better. But for now, be true to yourself and don’t fret over naysayers. Live your life to the fullest, and don’t settle for anything less.
Abella Carroll is a freelance writer