At different stages of life you have different levels of abilities. Youth is filled with curiosity and energy but lacks experience, while old age comes with wisdom and knowledge but the body starts to give up.
When you get older and your range of capabilities reduce, you’ll get upset thinking about the newly appearing limits in your life. It’s easy to become a victim of meaninglessness at this point. But the truth is you lost the meaning way before when more strength and energy was available to you but you didn’t use them. The one who lives his youth utilizing his full capabilities is more likely to carry this mindset into his old age. Instead of mourning over what he can’t do, he does what he CAN do at any stage of life.
Every day, you have three choices: not use your capabilities, use your capabilities compulsively, or use your capabilities consciously. Most people are either using their capabilities compulsively or not using even half of it. But the one who plays the game of life utilizing his full potential, with mindful and deep engagement in whatever he does, he gets to taste the true richness of life. He gets something far more deep and lasting than success – the experience of being one with life, moment by moment, when he’s involved in his tasks. Material rewards are just an extra bonus for such a person.
Operating at your full potential doesn’t mean exploiting your health. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Taking an optimal amount of rest is the part of the process to give your best to the universe. And don’t fall for what the studies say about optimal rest; listen to your body. Exploiting your current reserve so much that it affects your future performance puts you in net-negative performance in the long-run.
When you live with the mindset of utilizing the 100% of your available potential in any given moment, you’ll realise that experiencing a full life is more about living than achieving. Achievements and adversities are just temporary ups and downs that come and go in life, your life isn’t defined by them. Your life is defined by how you are living it - moment by moment. The circumstances (good and bad) of your life are an outside-in perspective of your life, but the real quality of your life that you experience is the inside-out perspective, and that depends more on HOW you live not on WHAT kind of situations you live in.
Life is unfair and it can suddenly take away any of your capabilities tomorrow that you take for granted today. In case of such an unfortunate event, if you’ve lived your life till now with the attitude of utilising all your capabilities, you’ll keep living like that with your new range of capabilities. You might change direction in life, you might look to pursue a different path, but your focus will still remain on what’s available to you in the moment.
When you start focusing on accessing your total potential, your attention automatically shifts from results and circumstances to the process. It brings your mind in the present and detaches you from the worries of the results and the panics of the circumstances.
Stephen Hawking is worth mentioning here. He was a lively man. He liked physical activities, and played various sports in his young age. But when his illness started paralyzing his entire body, instead of mourning over what he lost, he kept using his remaining mental capabilities and made many contributions to the field of theoretical physics and helped spread awareness about scientific topics among the general public. Hawking shows the best example of implementing the stoic philosophy of focusing on what you can do instead of thinking about what you can’t do.
Through this essay, I am not trying to motivate you to do something in life. The goal of this essay is to simply remind you that as a human being you’ve got tremendous powers, and those powers are temporary just like your life, and you have a choice to use your full potential if you want to.