Living With Your Full Potential
Life is uncertain, and the process of gradual decay can’t be stopped. At every point in life, you have some capabilities that nature gifted you. These capabilities, just like life itself, aren’t permanent. And the best way to honor the gifts that the Universe bestowed upon you is by putting them to use.
When you get older and your range of capabilities reduce, you’ll get upset thinking I can’t do this and I can’t do that. 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 has the mindset of using all his capabilities manages to live even the last, decaying phase of his life putting into use whatever amount of capabilities he has at that time.
I often say that there’s no universal should and should-nots. Humans are free begins. But I do advocate living an experimental life. Experiment living with laziness for a week and try living a week putting all your time, energy, and capabilities to use. See which one feels more in-sync with you.
You can choose to not use your capabilities, or use them restlessly and compulsively, or use them consciously. Sadly, most people are either using their capabilities compulsively or not using at all. The one who is playing the game of life at his full potential, with mindful and deep engagement in whatever he does, only he gets to taste the true richness of life. External success comes to him, but he gets something far more deep and lasting – 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 doing so at the cost of 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 is not a sustainable long-term choice.
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 your 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 firsthand 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. 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 you will get and the panics of the circumstances you are facing.
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 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 is under your control right now.
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 tap into your full potential if you want to. Other species on the planet neither have that much potential nor do they have a choice to increase it. You have.