The gift of a lifetime
It’s interesting to observe that we’ve all been given the gift of a lifetime. We really have. So, you ask “what is that gift then?”. Well, it is our lifetime!
It’s a true gift
The lives we have are true gifts. We had no say in getting it and we did nothing to earn it. It seems to have been given to us with no conditions attached. Seems like we can do with it what we will.
In the video Want to be happy? Be grateful, David Steindl-Rast defines a true gift. He says something is a true gift if “you haven’t bought it, you haven’t earned it, you haven’t traded it in, you haven’t worked for it”. That’s certainly true about our lives. David then goes on to say that whenever we receive a true gift and it’s valuable to us, then we feel grateful.
Grateful for the lives we’ve been given
I think at some level, everyone is very grateful for the lives we’ve been given. Unfortunately, we often also take our lives for granted.
It’s easy to be grateful to whoever or whatever gave us this gift of a lifetime.
What can we do with our lives?
To further borrow on the words of David Steindl-Rast, the most precious thing about our gifts of a lifetime is opportunity. The gift gives us the opportunity to experience things like joy and happiness. Every day is a new opportunity. Every moment is a new opportunity. We have the opportunity to be grateful for this gift every moment of our lives.
When I think of my life in this way, I really do feel deep gratitude and hope that I’m living these opportunities in a good way.
There are many people out there now talking about life extension and the possibility of using technology to live forever. To me, this notion seems to be ungrateful. It’s like someone has been given the most wonderful gift, but they are not happy with it. They want more. We’ve been given a lifetime, just one, that has a beginning and an end. That’s what the gift is. We don’t know how long it will last, but that’s part of the gift as well. Obviously our purpose is to experience things during this life because we’ve been designed with many senses to experience the world and every moment of our lives is an experience.
To wish that life could go on forever is like saying to the giver “I’m not happy with what you’ve given me, I want more”. The key thing is that we’ve been given is the opportunity to experience things (hopefully joy and happiness) during our lifetimes. That’s what we’re meant to be focussing on, not trying to extend life.
Caring for our lives
On the other hand, if we don’t look after our lives (body and mind) we can easily shorten our lifetime. That would also reflect ungratefulness for the amazing gift we’ve been given. So that we can live out our life to the full and experience as many opportunities as possible, we must take care of ourselves. This is the real meaning behind the phrase “you must love yourself”, which is really just an expression of the gratitude we have for the lifetime that has been gifted to us. Anything we can do to keep our bodies and minds most active and vital during our lifetimes is a sign of the gratitude we have for this wonderful gift.
If you’re uncomfortable with the concept of “loving yourself” at least express great gratitude for the wonderful gift of a lifetime that you have right now. The easiest first steps to show this gratitude are to start eating healthier, stop abusing ourselves and remove all negative thoughts.