Life isn’t always happy. Our purpose isn’t to be happy all the time. But I think we should be content in where we are headed in life, what we have chosen to do with our time. Are we working towards something purposeful? Have we found what makes us passionate and are we trying to pursue it? Are we thinking about others, what we can do to help them, to seek fulfillment in giving, in spreading kindness, in growing as an individual every day?

In order to gain from giving, we must first take care of ourselves. Our bodies, minds, and souls need constant maintenance. Self-care and daily rituals are essential in keeping ourselves well and allowing for future growth. Are we feeding ourselves well? Are we making sure our bodies are functioning optimally? This includes our heart and our lungs, our muscles and our minds. Are we taking enough time out every day to tune into our breath, to slow down enough to feel gratitude? Do we celebrate in a way that feeds our soul? Or do we trash it in an effort to find real peace? Are we in pursuit of true value and true beauty? Or are we worried about what everyone else values or finds beautiful?

I used to view life as a summation of all our accomplishments; our ultimate résumé, what we did throughout our existence to be remembered, to be someone. The more I live, the more I learn that my time on this planet is less about what I’ve done. When I close my eyes and imagine that my hourglass of existence is almost up, I see a rapid-fire slideshow of moments. Even more vivid than these images are the feelings that accompany them. I see and feel the embrace of the people that I love the most; I smell the rainy days on a porch swing; I feel the power of hardships that taught me huge lessons; I feel the swell of my chest as I made a real difference in another’s life. I hear laughter everywhere.

I see the constant growth of a human being trying to create her own peace, her own beauty. Life is lived when we discover how to share these memories, and it is lived when we receive them from another. The battle, then, is being truly present for these moments. They are, after all, all around us. ∗