Recently, I tried to explain to a friend the life I'm striving for. I want a life that's deeply fulfilling. I want days brimming with unbridled joy, peace and genuine accomplishment. I know the term for it now: a charged life. She seemed a bit skeptical of my daydreaming ways and tried to help ground me, "Right now, are you living the life you had pictured?" I contemplated a moment and recalled back to a youth group session I participated in right before college. My pastor asked all us young and eager kids where we envisioned ourselves in ten years. My vision was vivid, simple really: I planned to be writing, independently, in charge of my own schedule. I pictured a loving husband and kids in my life (although I had a very vague notion of what parenthood really entailed) and I was determined to live in San Diego, my favorite city in the world. Check, check, check. I am living exactly the life I imagined. There's just one problem: where to go from here. I realized that my plans from this point on are, frankly, a little muddled. There's no clear-as-day picture in my head of where we'll be in ten years. I'm sure this is how most people live their lives, but I've always been very future-oriented and I'm not used to getting caught up in routines. Herein lies my problem: my life now is unfamiliar, uncharted. Around the time that I was contemplating all of this, I was approached to do a review of a new motivational book by Brendon Burchard, titled The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make you Feel Alive. I've read quite a few motivational books and hadn't been deeply changed by any before, but I decided to read it. We can all use a little more "charge" in our life, right? What I found, instead of the usual inspirational jargon that always falls flat on me, was practical advice about how to infuse more joy into every single day and live a more purposeful life. There was plenty of hope-inspiring text for those who have truly lost their way, but also simple tips for those like me who are happy with where they're at, but simply not sure which direction to move in next. Tried-and-true, logical words like "watch less television" and "drink more water" meet less familiar adages like "create thirty day challenges for yourself" and "define your aspirations." He addresses human relationships bluntly, telling readers that they simply won't be fulfilled without meaningful relationships and that they should reassess dull friendships. He reminded me to actually listen to other people, something I've failed at miserably for the last year or so of my life. My everyday motivation - as well as my relationships with others - are noticeably moving forward as I've begun instituting these little changes, here and there. I think that the most impactful part of the book, for me, was the author's unique perspective on the past. The past, as you all know, is something I've struggled with immensely. I think I'm getting past it and then voices from my childhood drag me down, beat me up and halt all progress. I hate my past and far too often, I let it take over my present. I try to live in the now. I try to forgive and forget. I fail. Burchard's words are the first that I've heard that really address the past as it ought to be seen: not necessarily with joy or judgment, not forgetting it (which is impossible, trust me) but not living around it either. "What if all my negative emotions about the past are no longer relevant to this present moment and who I want to be now?" he asks. "What if, by viewing the past in a negative light, I'm failing to appreciate the gift of life I was given and still enjoy today?" Wise man, I tell ya. Everyone could benefit even if they took no other message away from his book other than that: appreciate your life.
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